By Andy Brown, posted 6 March 2018
Contact on twitter @justridethebike
What is Free2Cycle? How do you get a free bike, just for riding one? Tell us more Andy.
We want more people to ride bikes. That’s what Just Ride the Bike is all about. Most of all we want people to have fun riding their bicycles and we want people to be healthy. That’s why we were so pleased to learn all about free2cycle and to meet its founder and chief executive Eric Craig.
Because free2cycle isn’t just about bicycles – it is all about what we can do with a bike: get healthy. Let’s break this down a bit before we get into what free2cycle is exactly. First, check some statistics.
According to the Department of Transport bicycle traffic in the UK has risen from 2.5 billion in 1993 to 3.5 billion in 2016. a BCO YouGov survey for the British Council of Offices report into cycling: The Market Cycles, indicates approximately 11% of the UK are ‘cycling office workers.’ In London alone, the number of people cycling to work has moved from 77,000 in 2001 to 155,000 based on the 2011 Census. Will Norman, the walking and cycling commissioner for London claims to have record numbers of people cycling in London.
This is broadly, good. But not good enough. The UK has one of the worst obesity records in the world. What’s more, most of us – if you’re a visitor to JRTB then it might make you an exception – lead very sedentary lives. Our children do not take enough exercise. There’s every indication they might never ever be the type of children, teenagers and young faults to pursue any kind of sport indoors, or out of doors.
Which is why bicycles have such an intrinsic role to play in our society. Now check out our review of Peter Walker’s book, Bike Nation. Its subtitle is how cycling can save the world.
Sounds bold, but it is a simple argument. Make exercise part of a routine and it becomes easier, hence people will become healthier. Step one: change how we travel to work – go by bike. Step two, contact Eric Craig’s team at free2cycle because they want to encourage everyone – the people already commuting by bicycle and those thinking about it plus the people we need to convert – to ride a bicycle to work. Check out their videos to get the message direct.
How? free2cycle is a social enterprise committed to transforming wellbeing through cycling. It does this by working in partnership with organisations, retailers, suppliers and particularly those who don’t currently cycle, to incentivise regular bike use. free2cycle basically want to give you a bike which you don’t have to pay for.
So, for example, someone wanting to ride a bike to work pledges to ride 30 miles a week would get to own the bike of their choice to the value of £540 while 90 miles a week would fund £1,620 of bike. The more you ride, the better the rewards. You are free upgrade your bike by making a personal contribution, either as an upfront payment or a monthly contribution. free2cycle works on a four-year upgrade and finance cycle which keeps contributions affordable if a rider is not able to meet their mileage pledge. As an example, if cyclists consistently only achieved half of a 30 mile per week pledge they would need to take some responsibility and chip in around £7 per month.
The incentive makes it different from the Cycle to Work scheme where many bikes sit and rust in sheds. But another difference is it works because you are sponsored. The sponsor could be an employer, a local council or another group, but the important fact is that the cost of the bike is covered by the sponsoring organisation.
This means the scheme is very inclusive. It reduces almost all the barriers to cycling, unlike other schemes which favour people with a more accessible and often medium to high disposable income. Better still, free2cycle measures the benefits for everyone concerned by clever use of data. Sponsoring organisations benefit from quantified CO2 savings and other measurable benefits, if they happen to be employers they reap the rewards of a more energetic, creative, healthier and happier team.
We think the initiative is well worth investigating. free2cycle’s goal is to work towards making people healthier. It is not to be confused with other cycle schemes. Yes they want you to get you out on your bike, but it is not about cycling: it is about making people better, mentally and physically by enabling people use a bike as their preferred mode of transport.
The company has been going less than a year but has bold ambitions.
free2cycle is aligned with the key arguments in the book, Bike Nation, Eric Craig believes that keeping up with an active lifestyle helps to keep you well, stating that “for me, it changed my life, and we’d like to share those advantages with a lot more people.”
That echoes one of the main arguments made by Pete Walker. He refers to some research from Glasgow University stating: “People who commuted by bike had a 40 per cent lower chance of dying during the fifteen-year course of the project than those who didn’t. That’s not far short of a miracle. If these benefits could be administered in an injection, it would be considered one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of all time.”
Professor Jason Gill at Glasgow University said: “Lack of physical activity is a major public health concern. Many people struggle to find time to schedule exercise into their day, so cycling to work provides an excellent opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, buy building activity into normal daily routines. There is clear evidence that cycling to work is associated with substantially lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mortality.”
free2cycle is busy administering that medicine right now. Go online and find out how you get your prescription.
Image courtesy of Free 2Cycle 2018
Contact Free2Cycle at https://www.free2cycle.com/