The Big Issue Group, in partnership with ShareBike, has launched a national eBikes scheme today (February 1), with Bristol being the first city to have these bikes available. The eco-friendly eBikes are part of a scheme aimed to boost active travel and tackle unemployment in smaller cities and towns across the UK.
The Big Issue eBikes scheme is the first of its kind and will recruit and retrain unemployed and vulnerable people in local communities and provide them with access to support and services to improve their lives, with all employees being paid a Living Wage. The social enterprise already has a strong presence in Bristol helping an average of 30 Bristol-based vendors sell nearly 1,500 copies each week, as well as assist the most vulnerable to get back on their feet and supporting them into income generation.
The scheme, which will start in Bristol with a wider-UK rollout to follow, is also designed to meet environmental needs and encourage healthy living in each location. The eBikes aim to reduce congestion and encourage people to cycle, rather than drive – as even the small changes people make towards living eco-friendly lives can make a difference.
Big Issue eBikes will also directly benefit Bristol’s Clean Air plan by providing a genuine alternative to car use. This is important, as currently over 80% of Bristol’s pollution has been shown to be from local traffic sources. The estimated benefit for Bristol with a scheme of around 500 bikes is a direct reduction of 1,900 car trips a day.
The bikes can be hired via the Big Issue eBike App where cyclists will be able to find the location of their nearest bike. The area of the Big Issue scheme stretches from Dundry in the south, to Warmley and Emersons Green in the east, to Severn Beach in the north, with the Bristol Channel being the westernmost boundary.
For a monthly subscription to the Big Issue eBike scheme it costs £19.95 per month which can be cancelled any time without penalty. There is also a pay-as-you-go option which only requires a £10 deposit and 50p to get started and then charged at 20p per minute up to a maximum of £12 for the day.
The Big Issue and ShareBike are also calling on local businesses to take up the scheme in order to provide ethical and sustainable ways for people to travel and support unemployed or vulnerable people back into skilled work. Businesses interested in the scheme can visit the website to find out how they can set up an eBike scheme in their local community.