The Big Bike Revival for Key Workers scheme will be run through a series of independent bike shops, recycling centres and mechanics workshops across England and Scotland.
The scheme is funded by the Department for Transport in England and Transport Scotland in Scotland.
“The effects of this pandemic have changed much of our way of life in just a few weeks,” said James Scott, Cycling UK’s director of behaviour change and development. “Many people have discovered their old bicycle at the back of the shed or borrowed one from neighbours or family.
“The Big Bike Revival enables key workers who need to use a bicycle to travel to work or to stay fit and healthy to access free services to help them feel more confident getting around on two wheels.
“We have had an incredible response from independent bike shops, recycling centres and bike mechanics all wanting to use their unrivalled expertise to help those who do such vital work protecting lives.”
Cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris added: “We’re grateful to those people who are working round the clock to help beat Covid-19, and we want to do everything we can to ensure they’re still able to get to work safely.
“This Cycling UK initiative, funded by the Government, is helping to provide bike repairs, maintenance and safety checks to keep the wheels turning for our amazing frontline staff.”
The latest World Health Organisation advice for those on the move during the crisis encourages people to “whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking.” The guidance reminds people that use of a bicycle promotes distancing to help prevent spread of the virus while helping meet the daily requirement for physical activity.
Cycling UK has so far provided grants of up to £3,000 to over 120 cycle shops, recycling centres and bike mechanics enabling them to provide a helping hand to ensure that key workers can cycle for work and daily exercise.
Participating centres are spread right across England and Scotland, from Shetland to Taunton, with more locations to be announced in the coming weeks.
The funds will support free bike maintenance and checks, free bike loan schemes, pop-up Dr Bike sessions at hospitals and supermarkets, free equipment including locks and helmets and advice on keeping bikes safe and secure.
The project builds on Cycling UK’s existing Big Bike Revival project, which inspires people every year to start, or return to, cycling through community-based activities.
These activities are currently on hold because of the COVID-19 crisis, but the charity has adapted the project to support key workers on the frontline of the fight against the virus.
Cycling UK is also offering a free three-month membership for NHS and social care staff. Since launching the offer on in April, more than 1,800 people have signed up, enabling them to access third-party insurance cover and free legal advice.