The government’s bike voucher scheme for England is launching at 11:45pm today (Tuesday 28 July), offering 50,000 vouchers for £50 to repair unused bikes on a first come, first served basis. Hopefully, this little sweetener will give you that final nudge you need to dig your old bike out and make it roadworthy again. Then you can join the swelling ranks of cyclists, many of whom turned to bikes as the only practical “COVID secure” means of transportation. Others, of course, just rediscovered the joys of riding during lockdown, taking the chance to range far and wide when otherwise confined to their homes.
To claim the money, register to receive a code on the Energy Savings Trust website, where you’ll also be able to search for a participating bike shop near you. Bear in mind each shop will offer its own service packages, with some costing more than £50, and you may need to brace yourself for the price of repairing your knackered ride hitting three figures. The £50 is designed to cover a brief maintenance service and safety check, and minor repairs like replacing brake pads.
The biggest problem you may run into is finding a shop with an available slot any time soon. The Coach editor’s local bike shop was working on a month-long wait for an appointment before these vouchers were released.
That is why the launch of the scheme was delayed since its announcement in May, and why the numbers of vouchers are limited, including a two-voucher per household limit.
Two national chains, Evans Cycles and Halfords, have been preparing for the spike in business. Halfords, which has stores nationwide and thousands of servicing slots every day, offers free 32-point bike checks that identify areas that need work. The £50 voucher can then be used towards the cost of the repairs. Visit the Halford’s Fix My Bike Government Voucher Scheme to book the next available slot near you.
Evans will charge £35 for its Road Ready Service, launched to coincide with the voucher bonanza. The service will cover checking the frame alignment, brakes, gears, chain, tyres and wheels, plus a wipe down. The remaining £15 can help cover any additional repair costs. Visit the Evans Cycles Fix Your Bike for more details and to book.
Try not to be put off if you have to wait a long time, though. Pressure on bike shops means more bikes on the road, and having more bikes on the road is generally regarded as making cycling safer for all. And with the government announcing ambitious plans to improve cycling infrastructure, there has never been a better time to start cycling.