Big Bike Revival for Key Workers keeps Sarah on the road

Woman standing with bike
Sarah with her newly serviced bike
When Sarah’s bike was in a bad way after being stored outside, a free service from the Big Bike Revival for Key Workers meant she could continue helping people with substance abuse issues safely during lockdown

Sarah McGregor, 55, is from Edinburgh and works for Change Grow Live, a charity which provides drugs and alcohol support services.

Having enjoyed cycling in the past, a back problem and lack of time meant she hadn’t been riding as often as she would have liked in recent times. This was compounded by the state of her bike. Previously living in rented accommodation with no cycle parking, Sarah was obliged to store the bike outside. It wasn’t long before the Edinburgh weather took its toll and rust set in.

Then Sarah saw an email at work offering free cycle services and repairs to key workers. When Cycling UK was unable to run planned Big Bike Revival activities and events at the start of 2020, the focus shifted to supporting key workers to cycle to work safely. Participating bike shops and recycling centres received grants of up to £2,000 to fix rusty chains, tired tyres or squeaky brakes.

It can be difficult to get back in the saddle, but once you do you realise how much fun it is

Sarah McGregor, Big Bike Revival for Key Workers beneficiary

When she noticed that Soul Cycles in Edinburgh was taking part, Sarah grabbed the chance and booked her bike in for a service.

Sarah said: “I didn’t have the money to get the bike overhauled as it cost £200 last time – the maintenance costs are high when you have to leave your bike outside all the time.”

The bike was given a thorough overhaul which included the fitting of new tyres and brakes to get it back into shape.

“It felt amazing to get back on the bike – I missed it when the bike wasn’t up to scratch. It can be difficult to get back in the saddle, but once you do you realise how much fun it is.”

Not only did the bike reintroduce Sarah to the fun of cycling, it quickly proved its worth as a convenient way to travel to work along one of the city’s many old railway lines, the Newhaven to Newcraighall cycle path.

“Now I know it’s safe, I use it for work when I can – it’s only three miles and it’s actually quicker to cycle than to drive to work. It’s also so much better for health and the environment to cycle. Edinburgh is great because of the cycle paths, so you can avoid traffic on the roads.”

As well as commuting, Sarah was able to use her bike during the first lockdown in 2020 to deliver medication and treatment to homeless people in temporary accommodation. Undertaking this outreach work alongside an NHS colleague, Sarah got on her bike while the NHS worker drove or cycled separately, meaning they could continue the crucial service while socially distancing.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys family rides to the picturesque fishing village of Cramond on the outskirts of Edinburgh. With a partner who is a cycle courier, he sometimes needs a little persuasion to do any additional riding, but Sarah is hoping they might be able to go on a cycling holiday in the north of Scotland before too long.

And the best conclusion of all? The home where she lives now has indoor cycle parking in the form of a shed, so her bike should remain rust free and useful for a while yet!