Key National Health Service (NHS) workers in London are being offered a three-month e-bike loan to help them commute to work while social distancing. There are currently 20 Gocycle GS loaner e-bikes available, with more brands like Raleigh soon to join. The e-bikes and Abus locks and helmets are being distributed as part of a plan being organized by London-based e-bike retailer Fully Charged. Interested NHS workers can register their interest on this Fully Charged page, which also calls on other bike manufacturers and sponsors to pledge their support.
Not only will free e-bikes reduce commuting costs for essential workers, but it will also help them avoid having to travel in close proximity to others on public transit. Transport for London is currently running a basic service meant only for key workers such as NHS staff, but the reduction in trains has meant bigger crowds on services that are still running, making it a challenge to practice safe social distancing guidelines. An e-bike is a great alternative.
“We’ve all seen the images of packed tubes in the capital in the last few days,” Gocycle’s founder and designer, Richard Thorpe, said in a statement. “With far less traffic above ground, and the reduced number of trains being made available, eBikes are probably the best solution for essential NHS workers to move around the city.”
Bike shops have been granted “essential” status during the pandemic and have been allowed to stay open. Business is reportedly booming. “Given we’re able to remain operational, our focus is on supporting the country’s key workers,” Fully Charged’s director of operations, Dan Parsons, said in a statement, adding that the cancellation of cycling exhibitions means that many demo bikes are currently going unused.
“We hope NHS staff will seize the offer and, moreover, we are calling on the rest of the industry to help provide more support for doctors and nurses in this way,” Parsons added. “Gocycle are our first partner in this project, but we look to increase the offering with more support from suppliers in due course as the cycle industry comes together to show our support for the NHS.”
Along with Gocycle’s bikes, Fully Charged says that Raleigh has promised to offer a similar number of e-bikes. Meanwhile, Abus is offering locks and helmets, and Fat Llama is offering tech assistance. In an email to The Verge, Parsons said that dozens of NHS staff have already signed up to participate after a couple of hours. “We hope to encourage the industry to join together to join the fight,” Parsons said.
The Gocycle GS is the premium e-bike company’s entry-level model. We liked the step-up Gocycle GX when we reviewed it last year. The GX offers a very comfortable ride and folds quickly, and we think it’s one of the best e-bikes you can buy today.
Fully Charged and Gocycle are just the latest to offer cycling support to NHS workers during the pandemic. Last week, Brompton bikes offered 200 bikes to health workers to use for 30 days with just a £1 fee, while a charity is offering NHS workers free use of e-bikes in Scotland’s Forth Valley. Uber has also offered up to 50 free rides of its electric Jump bikes for NHS workers with a cap of £10 per journey. The offer is valid in the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Kensington, Chelsea and Hackney, and Chelsea.
Outside of the world of cycling, there are other initiatives to help NHS workers. Uber, for example, has pledged to provide free trips and free meals for NHS workers, Mashable reports. Drivers will keep the full fare on trips provided, and Uber says it will provide them with hand sanitizer and surface spray to clean their vehicles.