Procurement and distribution


This chapter explores early approaches to procuring bikes for children and young people, distributing them to families, storing and maintaining them. While many projects were at the stage of procuring bikes, and had learning from this, few had reached the stage of distributing and maintaining bikes to children and young people at the time of the fieldwork for the interim report.

Approaches to procurement

An important early step for many projects was procuring bikes for children and young people. The projects range in size and approach, and the number of bikes required ranged from 30 to just over 800.

Table 2: Planned volume of bikes
Project Planned volume of bikes
Angus Re-Cycles 500
Barnardo's Gearing Up 30
Bike for Good 239
Clackmannanshire Bike Buddies 160
Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools 400 increased to 566
Equality Cycles 300
I Bike 292
Pedal Up Shetland 50
Rock Up and Ride 800
Free Wheel North Exited early 2022 Not set out at proposal stage

The projects used different types of bikes including:

  • new bikes – from local suppliers, national suppliers, bike manufacturers and international suppliers;
  • recycled bikes – refurbished at existing local charities and cycle shops; or
  • unused or abandoned bikes – to be refurbished within the project itself.

Proposed type of bike

  • Angus Re-Cycles: Refurbished by project – hand back when grow out - to be refurbished again
  • Barnardo’s Gearing Up: Refurbished or new
  • Bike for Good: New – then refurbished and loaned again
  • Clackmannanshire Bike Buddies: Refurbished through local charity
  • Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools: Grants to schools - range of new bikes and recycled bikes
  • Equality Cycles: New – from local or national bike shops
  • I Bike: New from local and trade suppliers
  • Pedal Up Shetland: Mix of new and refurbished
  • Rock Up and Ride: New – from bike suppliers
  • Free Wheel North (Exited early 2022): Refurbished by project - abandoned adaptive bikes

Most projects offered young people a bike, along with a helmet, lock and lights, and showed them how to use the accessories. Some projects also offered additional accessories such as pads, gloves, a waterproof jacket, mud guards and a rain cover. One project worked with a partner that provided a welcome pack, including a bike maintenance booklet, personal cycling chart and local map with active travel routes.

One project, the Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools grant programme, did not procure bikes directly as schools were provided with grants to purchase the bikes they needed. This project provided pre-application support to schools to help identify bike suppliers, distributors and refurbishing organisations, and provided guide prices and specifications.

Across the projects, whether bikes were new or recycled, all of the projects were conscious of quality and safety, opting for higher quality bikes that would last and withstand regular use. Partners commented that the quality of the bikes was important, and they valued that projects had selected good quality bikes. They felt this would encourage sustained use and combat any stigma associated with receiving a free bike.

“Because these bikes are high quality, I feel that the children won’t stand out in the wrong way.” Project partner

A few projects noted that there were differing needs for localities in rural and urban areas. In rural areas, bikes were less likely to be used for commuting to and from school (due to the distance), but would be valuable in helping young people travel independently to socialise. Projects also noted that in rural areas it was important for young people to have bikes that allowed them to make full use of the terrain. One project is prioritising procurement of mountain bikes to facilitate this.

Procuring new bikes

Projects offering new bikes liaised with both manufacturers and retailers. Some project leads found that liaising with manufacturers directly worked well, allowing them to negotiate price, model and delivery. Some projects found that purchasing bikes that required assembly could be substantially cheaper than purchasing ready built. However, this resulted in increased staff time to assemble the bikes once the parts were delivered. One project was able to use some volunteer time to help assemble bikes, along with staff time.

Most projects sourcing new bikes and accessories found that there was likely to be some time (ranging from weeks to months) from order to delivery. This was due to the significant increase in demand for bikes since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, along with challenges in the global supply chain. Some also found it challenging as they needed to order bikes in advance of delivery and often did not know what sizes would be required. Projects also had to consider how to balance giving young people choice in the brand, type and colour of bikes with the need to procure effectively and efficiently. 

“The timescales are tricky, and it’s hard for me to predict what size and how many of each thing we need.” Project lead

Most projects offering new bikes sourced them from a range of suppliers, and directly from manufacturers, according to availability and delivery schedules. This provided projects with a good range of options to offer young people. Working with a mix of national and local suppliers worked well. National suppliers were able to fulfil large orders at competitive prices but could be less flexible. Local suppliers (of new and recycled bikes) were better placed to respond quickly and with smaller orders, or for accessories.

One project found just one supplier that could provide the bikes in a reasonable time frame, and another chose to source all the bikes from one manufacturer after speaking with several. For this project, there was only one manufacturer that could supply the quality and quantity of required bikes within the required time frame. The manufacturer felt able to work with this project easily, as the project lead was able to provide clear information on the type, style, number and size of bikes required. The manufacturer was happy to negotiate a competitive price for the bikes, as they felt the free bikes pilot aligned with the company’s ethos.

Example: Equality Cycles

At Equality Cycles, all of the bikes are new, sourced from Raleigh, Halfords and Cougar. In negotiation the project managed to achieve a significant reduction from one supplier. An initial batch of stock was ordered based on an estimate of what was needed, and the project will keep procuring as they get a better idea of what size of bikes are needed.

Procuring recycled bikes

Recycled bikes were sourced in different ways. Two projects aimed to refurbish bikes themselves and sourced discarded bikes through local authorities, clubs, their own bank of unused bikes or through donations of bikes from the general public.

Example: Angus Re-Cycles

Angus Re-Cycles aims to offer free recycled bikes to children and young people across Dundee and Angus. The project has an agreement with the local authority to collect all disused bikes. By December 2021 it had 515 recycled bikes ready to be distributed, had received 171 referrals and distributed 102 bikes. They are working with partners who have relationships with families to distribute the bikes, and it has taken a little while to get the partners fully involved and making referrals.

Some projects sourced recycled bikes from a trusted local supplier of upcycled bikes. Often this supplier was a key partner in the project. Projects found that working with suppliers of recycled bikes could have wider benefits as they were often already well embedded into the community or could offer additional resources, such as bike maintenance. However, at times using recycled bikes limited young people’s choices as the stock of recycled bikes depended on what had been collected or donated.


In one project, the project leads and bike supplier carefully selected high quality recycled bikes for young people. However the young people did not like the bikes as they had strong ideas about the brand and style they preferred. Going forward, young people will be taught about the different types of bikes on the market, before being invited to the shop to select their own bikes using a voucher. A digital catalogue will also be created so young people can see the bikes that are available.

“It makes sense for them to come into the shop and choose. It gives them choice and power.” Project partner

Approaches to distribution

Projects were at an early stage in terms of distributing bikes to children and young people. Planned approaches included:

  • delivery of the bike through partners with strong connections to families and young people
  • distribution through schools – often connected to the Bikeability stage
  • distribution through cycle clubs
  • young people coming to a hub or centre to collect their new bike
  • home delivery of bikes at a time that suits the family
  • attending a local bike shop to choose their bike
  • access to bikes at certain times at cycling centres.

Example: Rock Up and Ride

The Rock Up and Ride project offered its bikes through a cycle training programme. Young people were required to attend at least four cycle training sessions (using fleet bikes) to demonstrate their commitment, before they could request a bike of their own. It is also piloting an adaptive bike library where bikes can be ridden free of charge in one location.

Projects found that having the flexibility to deliver the bikes to young people at suitable locations helped to reduce the barriers to access and build relationships with families.

One project originally planned that young people would come and pick up the bikes from two locations. However, this didn’t work well and the project has had to develop a new approach. For the moment it is delivering bikes to young people, but this is not efficient in terms of time or environmentally friendly. The project is working with partners to develop a new approach to delivery.

One project which asked young people to come into their base to collect bikes found that they had to procure shipping containers in which to store the bikes to assist with distribution and assembly of new bikes. This meant that they had to spend time shuttling a short distance between the project base and storage to get bikes for people when they came in to collect them.

Each project had clear consent processes in place to ensure that parents and carers were happy with the young person receiving a bike. To ensure the ownership approach is clear, a few projects working with schools have developed a protocol for the transfer of assets (i.e. the bike) to young people. This varies from a formal arrangement, such as that used by schools when transferring iPads or laptops, to a more informal agreement requiring the young person and parent/carer to sign a form stating that they understand their responsibilities.


Individual storage

Each project providing a bike to take home also provided a lock for the bike. Projects had considered the possibility of bike theft, and hoped to minimise the risk of theft by providing high quality locks and education. One project also maintained a secure database of the padlock codes and spare locks, in the event that young people forgot their code and could not access their bike. A few projects were considering getting bikes marked or registered with the national cycle database.

Project leads providing bikes for young people to take home acknowledged the challenge that some people will have around safe storage, particularly in flats. One project asks that bikes are stored indoors overnight, and found that a few young people are saying that they have to keep their bike in the bedroom, so is exploring other options. One project provided rain covers for bikes, along with locks, so that they could be stored outdoors.

A few projects are working through the detail of secure storage of the bikes and how this will work. Two projects noted that they were speaking with housing associations to develop safe bike storage solutions. And one project suggested that, if necessary, young people could store bikes in the community bike library which is open at set times during the week.

Most projects said that if a bike was stolen, they would aim to replace it. A few projects noted that this was a particularly difficult issue to plan for. One project felt that the risk of theft was low, and that the community they worked in was small, so there was a high chance of recovery.

Communal storage

Several projects used shipping containers to store the bikes safely on site in schools or in the community. Shipping containers were mainly used to store bikes on site (in schools, at clubs or at hubs), and in some cases to help organisations store a stock of bikes on or near their own premises, for distribution.

“We knew the containers would be very secure, don’t need planning permission and can double up as works of public art.” Project lead

Shipping containers were felt to be a safe and cost effective storage solution. Most commented that the cost of shipping containers was higher than expected, due to high demand. A few projects commented that they planned to engage the community in personalising the shipping containers, but others did not want to draw attention to them due to the high value of goods stored.

One project is working with the local authority to map the existing storage capacity in schools, with the view that the project can help augment this if necessary. One project is considering use of cameras on site, to deter potential thieves and gather evidence in the event of theft.

One project has a warehouse which it has found works well as a storage space, and a separate office space. The warehouse does not have heating, and the project would ideally like a single space that can hold bikes and where staff can work.

Example: Rock Up and Ride

At Rock Up and Ride, each of the eight sites has been offered a shipping container for bike storage during the introductory four week sessions offered to children and young people. The shipping container could also potentially be used by young people to store their bikes, if needed.


Each of the pilot projects has built in approaches to maintaining the bikes to ensure ongoing and safe use. There are a range of approaches including project maintenance undertaken by project staff, arranging services through local bike suppliers and community projects, or offering vouchers for maintenance to young people. The projects undertaking maintenance themselves employed qualified mechanics to undertake this activity. As the projects were at early stages, learning about maintenance over time at this interim stage was limited.

Project approaches to maintenance

  • Angus Re-Cycles: Free one month safety check
  • Barnardo’s Gearing Up: Service every eight weeks
  • Bike for Good: Proactive - One bike service per year & Reactive - fixed within 48 hours/ replaced if needed
  • Clackmannanshire Bike Buddies: Service every eight weeks
  • Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools: No maintenance costs included (Grant programme with maintenance responsibility sitting with schools and local networks)
  • Equality Cycles: 3 monthly maintenance
  • I Bike: Light servicing by project staff
  • Regular full service with local bike supplier
  • Pedal Up Shetland: 3 monthly maintenance through community project
  • Rock Up and Ride: £50 maintenance voucher for each bike to be used at local bike shops
  • Free Wheel North (Exited early 2022):Project maintenance facility and service depot created in shipping containers in unused land

Wider support activities

In addition to providing bikes, bike equipment and maintenance services, the projects also aimed to undertake a wide range of additional activities. All of the projects aimed to ensure that young people accessing bikes had cycle training and safety advice, so that they were able to use their bike safely.

Table 3: Wider support activities
Project Cycle training/ safety Maintenance skills Fun cycle sessions Provision of safe cycle space
Angus Re-Cycles Yes - direct Yes n/a n/a
Barnardo's Gearing Up Yes - direct, group Yes n/a -n/a
Bike for Good Yes - clubs and events Bikeability link n/a n/a n/a
Clackmannanshire Bike Buddies Yes - direct Yes Yes n/a
Cycling Friendly Secondary Schools Bikeability link n/a n/a n/a
Equality Cycles Yes - Travel Hub n/a n/a n/a
I Bike Bikeability link Yes Yes n/a
Pedal Up Shetland Bikeability link n/a n/a n/a
Rock Up and Ride Yes n/a Yes Yes
Free Wheel North Exited early 2022 Yes - direct, group or 1/1 n/a Yes Yes

Some projects offered maintenance skills development classes for children and young people, and some offered fun cycle sessions like led cycles and group cycle opportunities. Two of the projects involved creating a safe cycle space for young people to develop their skills.

Most projects offering wider activity as part of the pilot had not yet delivered, with plans to do so from early 2022. Overall, projects indicated that it was important to build skills, rapport and commitment before handing over the bike.

A few projects also incorporated cycle leader training (for adults and teenagers) into the project. Partners were hopeful that this would help sustain the activity beyond the pilot. One project hoped in the future to incorporate a café into the hub and to run it as a social enterprise, which would fund ongoing activity.

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