New 'bike libraries' boosting access to cycles in Manchester communities

A new scheme that provides bicycles to local communities has launched across Greater Manchester.

Bike libraries allow people to borrow a cycle, with the aim of encouraging them to take advantage of the new cycling routes.

A total of 14 bike libraries are currently up and running, with 13 more set to launch over the coming months.

It follows a £145,000 investment from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) as part of the Bee Network, an integrated London-style transport system across the city region.

More than 25 community organisations, including some primary schools and healthcare providers, have received a grant of up to £5,000 to help set up a bike library from their premises.

Funding has also been made available for each organisation to access training to help with the maintenance of their bikes.

Former Team GB Paralympic cyclist, Dame Sarah Storey is now Greater Manchester's Active Travel Commissioner.

She said: “Bike libraries enable more people to access cycling in a way and at a time that is right for them.

“Many people using the libraries may have cycled before but need the flexibility of borrowing a bike to help them rebuild their confidence and try new routes. They are also a good way of working out what sort of bike they may need.

"Along with the cycle hire scheme, which aims to support shorter journeys by bike in specific parts of Manchester, Salford and Trafford, bike library loans are reaching further afield and enabling people to explore their local area at their leisure."

Sarah Storey from Manchester won Great Britain's first gold for her victory in the Track Cycling Women's Pursuit C5. Credit: PA

Many of the bike libraries have standard bikes in a variety of sizes available for people to borrow for free, others request a small charge to support with maintenance and upkeep of the bikes.

Communities for All, based in Cheetham Hill, launched their bike library in May 2022 and have seen members of the community embrace the new bikes to get out and get active.

Mohammed Ali, Manager at Communities for All, said: “A lot of people in the area don’t have a bike, and don’t have space to store a bike at home, so our bike library is perfect for people to get access to a bike and take ownership of it during their hire.

“We’ve been hiring out bikes to people that want to go out on their own, or go for rides with their children, for as long as they need them.

"We also use the bikes for different sessions that we run at the centre, to help members of the community build confidence when riding. It’s made a big difference, so far.”

Bike libraries offer a range of different bikes to members of the community, including bikes for adults and children, trikes and Bromptons.

Each library has their own approach to loaning a bike as some are exclusive to the organisation’s staff, pupils or members.