Cycling UK launches Shift project to help Scots choose cycling for short journeys

Cycling UK is launching a new project, Shift, to get more people in Scotland cycling.

The charity will provide funding and expert support to organisations so that they can deliver cycling activities that will help people jump on a bike instead of into their car.

Scotland has seen a surge in cycling during the COVID pandemic, with cycling journeys up 47% in the 12 months following the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. Cycling UK said it wants to see this trend continue beyond the pandemic and make cycling a ‘natural choice’ for shorter journeys.

The most recent data shows that 34% of journeys under 1km in Scotland are made by car, which rises to over 50% when the journey is between 1km and 2km. Shift will aim to equip more Scots with the choice of cycling for these short journeys and reach people on low incomes who have limited transport options. It will operate right across Scotland from Shetland to the Borders.

The programme builds on Cycling UK’s current community work, such as the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme, which saw more than 25,000 bikes repaired during the pandemic. Funded by Transport Scotland, the project will provide grants of between £400-800 and a host of expert support to at least 100 organisations that want to help people in their community discover the benefits of cycling.

From cycle training and confidence-boosting sessions to cargo bike trials for local businesses, Shift will deliver a wide range of activities to get communities pedalling for everyday journeys. A network of development officers based in communities across Scotland will be on hand with expert support and advice, networking opportunities and access to training.

The project aims to reach 20,000 people over the next 12 months. Grants are open to any organisation that can meet the aims of the project including charities, community groups, higher education establishments and businesses.

Scottish Government Transport Minister Graeme Dey said: “I’m pleased we’re providing £390,000 to support the Shift programme by Cycling UK. This high impact grant fund will provide at least 100 organisations across Scotland with grants, coupled with expert guidance to encourage cycling for everyday journeys.

“The benefits of walking, wheeling and cycling are clear – both for individuals and for the environment. Cycling rates have never been higher and we need to keep up this positive momentum for our wellbeing and for our climate.

“If you’re an organisation hoping to get communities cycling – get in touch and find out how the Shift programme can help support your plans for active and more sustainable travel.”

Gabriella Farquhar, Shift programme manager for Cycling UK, added: “When more people ride bikes to get around, the whole community benefits. It improves people’s health and wellbeing, reduces air pollution and traffic congestion, and brings economic benefits as well.

“The people who know communities best are those who live and work in them. That’s why we’re supporting organisations to run cycling activities in their own communities using their local knowledge and expertise. I’d encourage any organisation that wants to help more people to ride bikes for short everyday journeys to apply for a grant and get involved in this exciting project.”

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