This chapter explores provision within the pilot projects for children and young people who require an adaptive bike or a bike that specifically meets their individual needs. We use the term ‘adaptive bikes’ throughout this chapter to refer to bikes which are designed or modified to fit the needs of an individual.
Provision of adaptive bikes
Most projects expect to deliver some adaptive bikes within their pilot. The Free Wheel North project focused entirely on refurbishing abandoned adaptive bikes and developing a hub where young people can come to use the bikes in a safe environment. When the Free Wheel North project exited the programme in early 2022, after the completion of this interim evaluation, the funding was distributed between the other nine projects to ensure inclusion of adaptive bikes within each project.
Table 4: Proposed number of adaptive bikes and budgets *This is integral to the project, refurbishing abandoned adaptive bikes.
Proposed volume of adaptive bikes
Budget in proposals
Barnardo's Gearing Up
Bike for Good
12 adaptive bikes
Clackmannanshire Bike Buddies
Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools
4 adaptive bikes
Pedal Up Shetland
3 adaptive bikes and 3 hand bikes
Rock Up and Ride
At least 4 bikes
Free Wheel North Exited early 2022
All projects were keen to support young people with a range of needs. However, a few felt that their model meant that they were unable to offer adaptive bikes. Projects which didn’t include adaptive bike provision were keen to either adapt their project in the future to include adaptive bike provision or signpost families to other services. Two projects indicated that they were able to make minor adaptations to standard bikes to accommodate some needs – such as removing the pedals to turn a standard bike into a balance bike.
At the time of the interim evaluation, Pedal Up Shetland had not yet started up. The other five projects which included a provision for adaptive bikes were at reasonably early stages. One project – Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools - experienced very high demand for adaptive bikes from schools through their grant applications. The project explored potential to bring existing adaptive bikes back into use, and has also funded new adaptive bikes, through the grant programme.
Two projects – I Bike and Bike for Good – are working with schools to explore needs. One school has identified existing adaptive bikes near the school that aren’t being used, and I Bike is exploring if these can be brought back into use. Bike for Good is liaising with a special school to explore needs and storage options, and will build in specific training on repairs and maintenance for pupils at this school. The Rock Up and Ride project is also in the process of sourcing refurbished adaptive bikes which are built to order, bespoke to needs.
One project did not specifically budget for adaptive bikes but is working with a special school to explore how many adaptive bikes are needed. The project has access to adaptive bikes for short term rental, but not for ownership. The project is working through how to make a fair offering to pupils who need an adaptive bike.
Another project which did not specifically budget for adaptive bikes had access to an adapted bike fleet which offered opportunities for long term loan, and was also exploring community group sessions. This work will develop over future months.
Project leads and partners found it challenging to predict how many young people would need an adaptive bike, and the type of bike required. The cost of new adaptive bikes is high and without knowing how many young people would need an adaptive bike, projects found it hard to forecast budgets. One project noted that whilst it set aside a budget for adaptive bikes, the demand has been five times more than expected.
A few project leads and partners commented that there are banks of unused adaptive bikes across Scotland, which are likely to be falling into disrepair. They felt there was scope to work with the people storing these bikes to repair them and bring them back into use, but it could be hard to access them.
There are fleets of them sitting in shipping containers, but they’re hard to access and people don’t want to give them up because they’re so expensive. - Project partner
Several projects plan to work with one particular partner organisation which makes and repairs adaptive bikes. This organisation was aware that several projects might be in need of support, and was keen that they understood requirements as early as possible in order to be able to meet the needs of all the pilots.
Projects also found that it was important to think about storage. Adaptive bikes are usually larger than standard bikes, and require more space for storage. Project leads were conscious that a family may not have sufficient and secure storage to keep it. One partner suggested that the solution may be for projects to store the bikes on site for people to use, rather than expecting families to store, and insure, the bikes at home.
Lastly, a few project leads highlighted that it was important to think about how young people would use adaptive bikes, which cannot always be used on the road, and the best way to provide bikes and safe cycling opportunities.