Birmingham City Council scheme Big Birmingham Bikes has jointly won the 2017 Ashden Award for Clean Air in Towns and Cities.
BBB offers free bicycles to Birmingham residents living in deprived areas. Recipients also receive basic training in cycle maintenance and BBB provide lessons for those who lack confidence in cycling or have never ridden a bike before. The scheme is part of Birmingham City Council’s Birmingham Cycle Revolution, which aims to make cycling an everyday way to travel around the city.
The Ashden Awards are given to pioneers in sustainable energy and are a globally recognised measure of excellence. Along with 12 other organisations, BBB will receive its Award at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Former Vice-President of the US Al Gore is the keynote speaker and Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy will host the Awards.
The Ashden judges commented: “This inspirational project is not only getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes but is also improving the health, wellbeing and mobility of an often hard-to-reach demographic. There is huge potential to replicate the scheme and other cities should take note as its simple pragmatism could really help to reframe the national environmental debate.”
Thanks to BBB’s work, 11 new recreational cycling groups have been created. It is also leading practice rides along popular commuter routes to encourage people to use the bikes as a means of transport as well as for enjoyment. 3,400 bikes have been given out to individuals as well as an additional 600 distributed to community groups and bike hubs, which are then loaned out free of charge. BBB plans to distribute around 1,500 bikes a year for the next four years, meaning that approximately 10,000 will be in use by the end of 2020.
UK Ashden Award winners receive a prize of up to £10,000 along with tailored support to help scale up their work.