Essex Pedal Power is one of the flagship programmes of the Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot (LDP). The scheme provides FREE bikes to residents in the county’s most disadvantaged communities, to significantly increase cycling, active travel and physical activity levels. Working together with Essex County Council, The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) and other key partners, the inclusive programme aims to make cycling accessible for everyone providing access to employment, training and educational opportunities or key local services. The plan is to giveaway over 5,000 bikes by 2025 focusing on the six Levelling Up areas recognised by Essex County Council. Essex Pedal Power is a multi-agency programme, delivering on multiple agenda’s and outcomes.
The inspiration to develop Essex Pedal Power comes from Birmingham, where initially the City Council, and subsequently, The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS), pioneered ‘Big Birmingham Bikes’ in 2016. To date, over 9,000 bikes have been given away in some of the most deprived communities in Birmingham. Birmingham identified that the biggest barrier to cycling in disadvantaged areas is the cost of a quality bike, which is currently around £500. This cost makes it impossible for millions of people to cycle.
Essex Pedal Power launched in Clacton and Jaywick in June 2021, and hundreds of bikes have already been distributed, out of a total of 1,300. Friendships have formed, communities have strengthened and the project has become so much more than just a free bike scheme.
There is a quality wrap around support for all residents who receive a bike, including free learn to ride sessions, bike maintenance and led bike rides. All Essex Pedal Power projects are committed to using and developing the local cycling infrastructure, including dedicated cycle paths, cycle lanes on roads, and community bike parking.
Due to its success, Essex Pedal Power will be launching in Colchester, Basildon and Harwich and Dovercourt in Spring 2023, with the aspiration of additional areas across Essex in the future.