Now you can borrow a bike from Poplar's new cycle library
- Credit: Rehan Jamil
A new public library has opened in Poplar — but this one is to take out bikes on loan, rather than books.
The new holistic community cycle hub has been launched on a trial run by Chrisp Street Community Cycles and Sustrans to help people overcome barriers to riding bikes.
Confidence and bike storage are seen as two things that stop people cycling, the environment charity Hubbub has found.
Poplar Harca housing organisation is letting the charity use an empty shop as a bike library for children's and adult's bikes and accessories for free. It also provides cycling advice, guided rides and free repairs.
“Every part of the community should have a chance at what cycling offers," Hubbub’s founder Trewin Restorick said. “The cycle hub is to help change the social norm and show cycling is for everyone.”
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The pilot scheme is being run through September, inspired by a group of women in Bow calling themselves the Cycle Sisters who overcame perceived barriers with weekly social rides together.
A Bike Life report in 2019 found safety concerns and storage were two of the biggest barriers preventing women in the East End from cycling.
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Project officer at Sustrans, Ruth Chiat, said she hopes the project encourages people to cycle: “We are giving free cycle hire and bike checks as well as skills and maintenance training to make this happen and put this into practice.”
The new hub will be testing whether some of the barriers can be overcome, such as whether learning sessions and social rides can boost confidence.
One new user of the library, Sangeeta Naik, said: “Being able to book free cycling lessons and learn about bike safety and maintenance have been game-changing.
"You can learn to ride if you’re rusty like me.
"My son’s bike was sitting at home gathering dust because he didn’t know how to ride it. The hub cycle experts made sure his bike was adjusted and fitted him.”
The Bike Life report also found that only six out of every 100 women and one in six men cycle at least once a week.
The Poplar cycle hub is open at Chrisp Street Market from 10am to 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays throughout September.