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The bicycle: a lifeline for keyworkers

Thembi giving the thumbs up with her new bike.

The lockdown saw a massive spike in demand for bikes as people reclaimed the roads for their daily exercise. But the bicycle served a more serious purpose too. It became a lifeline for key workers who had previously relied on public transport: Suddenly they risked catching or transmitting the deadly virus as they travelled to work - or having to walk miles every day.

Thembi’s story

Once such key worker was Thembi, a residential care home worker from Derby. She had her bike stolen at the height of the first lockdown. Luckily Life Cycle Derby was there to help… 

“After my bike was stolen, I’d been walking to work for a while. I wanted to get another bike, but I was feeling a bit numb after what happened. I have a medical condition called a slipped hip so normally I try and avoid walking where I can. That’s why I’ve always loved cycling: For me, it’s so relieving and especially because I work on my feet all day as a carer. 

Cycling is so much better for me – it means I have that extra energy at work. When I had to walk to work I thought of getting a taxi or public transport, but there was this fear of doing it as we were advised not to. So I walked to keep people safe. Then a lovely woman told me about Life Cycle’s scheme and I was so, so happy. I was not expecting to get a new bicycle free of charge - and it was just like the ones I had stolen! 

It’s been great! And I’ve been told by other carers that I’ve encouraged them to get on their bikes. So other people have been cycling in, which is the best way to keep people safe. I appreciate it so much.”

Thembi also spoke to BBC Radio Derby about her experiences of the scheme. You can listen to the interview via Facebook.

Life Cycle Derby received funding from Foundation Derbyshire and Derby City Council to provide free bikes to key workers at a time when most bike shops were experiencing stock shortages and long waiting lists. Our stock of second-hand bikes, refurbished by prisoners as part of their training, enabled us to weather the storm and continue to give bikes to the people who most needed them. To ensure we did not run out of stock as demand increased, we managed to get a small order of new bikes, thanks to local business Moore Large.

The Derby team of staff, freelancers and volunteers have been working flat out this year to support local key workers and the wider community to start or continue to cycle. They have given 146 free bikes to key workers and a free Silver bike service to 121 key workers. Their hard work and dedication have made a huge contribution to the health and well-being of people in Derby. Well done team!

Click here to find out more about Life Cycle Derby.