Katherine Shircore of Luton with bike Image supplied by GTR

Project completes its first batch of bikes in June, National Bike Month 

Around 30 NHS key workers at Bedfordshire hospitals are now travelling to work on free bicycles, thanks to a scheme to renovate abandoned bikes. The scheme is being run by Thameslink, Luton Council and Sustrans, the charity promoting cycling and walking.

The aim was to help hospital staff get to and from work while maintaining social distancing and getting some valuable extra exercise. Fittingly the project has completed its first batch of bikes in June, National Bike Month.

One hospital worker who received a bike said:

“I had been struggling to get to work since lock-down started because buses don’t run early or late enough, but this bike will make so much difference.”

Another wrote a letter to:

“… express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart. It isn’t the value of these gifts so much as the concern shown by you that motivates us to do our job well, especially in this crisis.”

Tom Moran, managing director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said:

“At a time of great national challenge, we are proud to help keep Britain moving by supporting everyone who still needs to travel by rail, and to play our part in National Bike Week. Now, more than ever, is a time when we all need good neighbours, to stay connected, and help each other out.”

Thameslink and Luton Council both picked out the machines in best condition from their stocks of abandoned bikes. The mechanics at the Council’s recycling scheme inspected and overhauled the bikes as necessary to ensure they were in safe, roadworthy order.

Luton Borough Council offered half of the bikes to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, and Sustrans, working with Bedford Borough Council, delivered the rest to Bedford Hospital staff.

Chloe Crowther, Sustrans Active Travel Officer in Bedford, said:

“Lots of people may be looking at alternative ways to travel at the moment and this scheme is helping those that have the most need to travel. It was wonderful to see how appreciative the staff at Bedford hospital were when receiving their bikes.

“I’m so grateful to our key workers for what they do, they are all heroes. I’m particularly grateful to GTR, Luton Council and Bedford Council for making this possible.”

Thameslink have also given a further ten bikes to the Luton recycling team. In need of rather more restoration work, these will be offered to staff at Biggleswade Hospital when ready for the road.

Demand has been so high that Thameslink have already run out of bikes in good enough condition for the scheme.