Hundreds of financially struggling Scots set to feel the benefits of cycling

Hundreds of people in Scotland who are struggling financially will be able to experience the joys and benefits of cycling thanks to Access Bikes programme
  • People experiencing financial hardship will be provided with bikes by programme run by charity Cycling UK
  • Access Bikes programme will also reach disabled people with specialist cycles
  • Only 21% of Scottish households with an income of £10,000-£15,000 have access to a bike

With Scots facing a cost-of-living crisis, cycling is an affordable form of transport but many people do not have access to a bike and cannot afford to go out and buy one. While 72% of Scottish households with a net annual income of over £50,000 have access to one or more bicycles, this falls to 21% for households with an income of £10,000-£15,000.

Access Bikes will remove this barrier by providing bikes to people experiencing financial hardship. The programme, which is funded by Transport Scotland, will also provide training and support to enable people to cycle confidently.

The programme offers grants to organisations across three funding streams, enabling them to provide cycles and accessories to adults experiencing financial hardship in their community. Not only does cycling enable people to save money, it also gives them more transport choices, improves their health and wellbeing and helps the environment.

The programme’s main fund is for organisations in Scotland that are working in communities hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis. These groups know their local communities best, so they are encouraged apply for a grant to buy bikes for adults with whom they are working and who would like to get a bike and start cycling.

A second fund will help to tackle barriers to getting active for disabled people by providing funding for non-standard cycles. Community organisations that are supporting disabled people can apply for funding to buy these specialist cycles – such as tricycles, handcycles, wheelchair attachments and tandems – to benefit adults with whom they are working. Cycles are to be owned and maintained by the organisation applying for the grant.

Access Bikes will also work with established cycle recyclers to provide high-quality secondhand cycles to people who are financially struggling. This stream is initially operating as a pilot, working with a range of identified partner organisations right across Scotland – from Shetland to the Scottish Borders.

Cycling UK will provide support and advice to organisations that receive a grant, including introductions to cycle suppliers, guidance on selecting bikes and accessories, and help to organise cycle training for participants. All cycles will come with relevant accessories such as helmets, locks, lights and bike maintenance tools.

Access Bikes will provide bikes to people who are struggling financially, giving them an affordable way to get from A to B – which in turn opens up opportunities for people and gives them freedom

Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK’s head of development for Scotland

Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie commented:

“I’m pleased to welcome the launch of the new Access Bikes programme by Cycling UK. We know there are people who are looking to cycle but simply can’t afford the upfront costs of owning a bike. These new streams of funding remove that barrier and make it easier for people to cycle without an upfront cost.

“This complements our Cycle Share Fund programme with Cycling UK– supporting people who want to access bikes, but without ownership or the responsibility of bike maintenance or storage.

“We’re committed to building an Active Nation here in Scotland – where more people choose walking, wheeling and cycling for shorter everyday journeys. For our health, wellbeing and for the environment, we’re committed to spending 10% of the transport budget, or over £320m, on active travel in 2024-25.”

Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK’s head of development for Scotland, said:

“We know that many people across Scotland are keen to ride a bike to get around, but aren’t able to go out and buy one. Access Bikes will provide bikes to people who are struggling financially, giving them an affordable way to get from A to B – which in turn opens up opportunities for people and gives them freedom.

“We’re proud to be working with a range of community partners on this programme, harnessing their local knowledge and expertise to make sure we reach the people who can benefit most from the fantastic benefits that riding a bike brings.”


Notes to editors

  1. Access Bikes encourages people in Scotland who are financially struggling to cycle, by removing the barrier of high upfront costs of a bike and providing training and support to enable them to cycle confidently.

  2. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often.

  3. Figures on bicycle ownership in Scotland are from Transport and Travel in Scotland 2021 report.

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900-1700) please call Sam Waller on 07775 595998 or email Out of hours, call 07584 271 300.