Pilot project supports Fife communities by giving new life to old bikes

23 June 2023    

244 bikes distributed to new owners through Cycling Scotland and Circular Communities Scotland’s three-month ‘Fife Affordable Access to Bikes’ pilot project, supporting skills development, tackling transport poverty and supporting the local circular economy.

A three-month pilot project aimed at improving access to bikes has concluded in Fife, uncovering opportunities for similar bike reuse projects to improve lives across Scotland.

The Fife Affordable Access to Bikes pilot, funded by Cycling Scotland through grant funding from Transport Scotland, involved close collaboration between Fife Council, Circular Communities Scotland and local cycling organisations to repair unwanted bikes and deliver them to new users.

Four community cycling organisations across Fife were involved in collecting bikes donated to Household Waste Recycling Centres, before repairing and distributing them to new homes as part of the pilot: Greener Kirkcaldy, Bikeworks, CLEAR Buckhaven & Methil and Gallatown Bike Hub.

In total, 404 bikes were identified as repairable. 244 bikes have, to date, been distributed to new owners, with parts from a further 226 bikes used to repair and refurbish others – supporting the circular aspect of the project.

Six young volunteers aged 12-14 were involved in the project through Gallatown Bike Hub, gaining valuable new skills and experience.

One bike recipient (36-year-old male from Kirkcaldy), who wished to remain anonymous, shared how the new bike had transformed his opportunities:

“I split up with my wife a few weeks before Christmas and had pretty much hit rock bottom. I was stuck in homeless accommodation with no money and unable to have contact with my two kids. Through working with Kirkcaldy YMCA and community social work, I've managed to get into a scatter flat and get a job in a factory. The job is great, but I was struggling to afford the bus and the five mile walk there and back to do my nightshift was a killer.

“I got a bike from Gallatown Bike Hub for free and it's made a huge difference. Not only do I have a way to get to work and back every day, but I also have a bike that I can ride to do my shopping and have contact with the bairns. We're looking forward to going out for a cycle together in the better weather.”

Maura Adamson from Lochgelly, whose 6-year-old daughter Sophie received a newly refurbished bike as part of the project said: “I picked up the bike and Sophie started using it right away, cycling it nearly every day since. She really needed a bigger bike and having this refurbished bike has made such a difference.

“It’s been a very positive experience for the whole family. Since Sophie got her new bike, it’s given us all the motivation to get out as a family and cycle much more often.”

Celebrating the success of the pilot, Katharine Brough, Head of Behaviour Change at Cycling Scotland said: “Increasing fairer access to bikes is crucial if we’re to help more people travel by bike in Scotland, and it’s been so encouraging to see the positive impact that this short pilot has had in communities across Fife.

“By working together to revive hundreds of bikes that would otherwise have been thrown away, the project partners have empowered Fife residents and community groups to embrace cycling – not only helping many more people benefit from a low-cost, sustainable way of getting around, but helping protect the environment by reducing waste in the process.”

Cllr Jan Wincott, Spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change, Fife Council, said:

“The Affordable Access to Bikes pilot was a fantastic opportunity for us to take unwanted materials and repurpose them to benefit vulnerable communities across Fife. Through four local organisations, we were able to repair and distribute over 240 bikes that otherwise would have been scrapped.

“Bikes have the power to transform lives through improving physical and mental health and wellbeing, providing a low-cost mode of transport as well as supporting reuse and waste reduction. The success of the pilot can be felt through the number of schools, charities and individuals across Fife who have benefitted from a repaired bike and reported back how life-changing it has been. The data collected through the pilot has also given us a picture of what a sustainable bike reuse model could look like in future.”