Earlier this month, The Big Issue announced their joint venture with Sharebike. The Big Issue eBike initiative promises to transform transport in the UK. It may seem that this is a grand ambition, but we have got to start somewhere. Soon you will see the eye-catching red and white design on our streets.
If you rent an eBike you will be doing a power of good for your health, and conscience knowing your money has been used to employ those who, not long ago, were homeless or out of work. eBikes will be a transport version of the Big Issue. It is about turning around the lives of those down on their luck.
Why cycling? It’s cheaper, often faster, healthier, quieter and is more environmentally friendly than driving or even using public transport. It is fabulous for endorphins, boosts immune systems and even caters to mental health by providing a healthy mechanism to de-stress (which can’t be taken for granted during the chaos which continues to unfold). No more struggling to find a parking space. No more paying through the nose for parking. No more being fined £60 because your tyre is just touching the yellow line.
Another of beauty of The Big Issue eBike is that it allows the homeless and unemployed to get around, as it stands, many of them cannot afford public transport. These people will be looking for the sort of jobs that require physical presence. Let’s help get the jobless back to work.
The Big Issue eBike scheme is to operate throughout the UK, aiming to offer the more vulnerable sections of society opportunities. With the right training, we can get a tremendous morale booster for those who previously felt they had been thrown onto the scrapheap. We insist on paying a living wage. We will do all we can to give these people the support to lead a good quality of life as social good has an echo.
The eBikes scheme is going to make its first fleet of bikes operational in spring 2021. The hope is to have at least 15 fleets functioning within two years. But to do this, we’re striving for collaboration, among councils, businesses and everyday citizens. So, if any councils or businesses are interested to set up an eBike initiative in their community, they can visit www.bigissue.bike. Or, if they're just an avid cyclist like me, they can register to hear more about when The Big Issue eBikes scheme may be coming to a community near them by visiting www.bigissue.bike (app coming soon).
The eBikes scheme dovetails with the Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA). RORA offers a holistic approach to solving the social ills consequent upon coronavirus. We need a panacea for the multiple problems that we face as society. Coronavirus has killed people but also deepened deprivation. We demand that we rebuild a healthier, smarter, fairer, happier and more prosperous society. As Nelson Mandela said: it seems impossible until it happens. There are always naysayers and pessimists. A key aspect of RORA’s vision is a more friendly United Kingdom. eBikes are vital to that vision. The future’s bright: the future’s green.
When the going gets tough; the tough get cycling. In the words of Norman Tebbit: on yer bike!
Lord John Bird is co-founder of The Big Issue
Photo: by Louise Haywood-Schiefer