Bikeability team rallies to Southern Rail’s call to help NHS workers

More than 40 abandoned bicycles have been renovated by Bikeability instructors for NHS workers in a scheme initiated by Southern Rail.

Every month, bikes are stored at Southern’s maintenance depot in Horsham in case their owners decide to recover them. Southern’s Community Engagement team saw the opportunity to reduce the ‘mountain’ of unclaimed bicycles, give a “thank you” to NHS workers and promote safe, sustainable travel, all at the same time.

Southern approached the county council’s Bikeability team and other partners to set up the renovation and donation scheme. Ed Clark, Cyclist Training Development Officer, said: “We’ve had a team of six working on this project for about six weeks now: these are Bikeability instructors who, if it wasn’t for the Coronavirus outbreak, would be working in schools and colleges, so instead are working from home, renovating bikes.”

The condition of the bicycles varied from those needing spares, which might take a couple of days to arrive, some needing a full renovation taking four to five hours, to others that only needed the final safety check and some more air in the tyres.

Southern Rail’s Community Engagement team then matched the bike to the rider, via NHS Trusts, and they were delivered to the recipients, county-wide, by the Bikeability team.

Ed said: “The reaction and feedback when I’ve delivered bikes has been really positive. They were all frontline NHS staff who, after their work indoors, wanted to be out in the open for their journeys home and this has allowed them to do that.”

Fiona Sayers, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, received one of the bicycles. Fiona said: “I use it nearly every day and I love it! I have already felt the health benefits. Instead of driving my car to work in Worthing, or the shops, etc, I will now use my bicycle to get around.”

Tom Moran, executive sponsor for the scheme at Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “It’s really fantastic that our initiative with the Bikeability team is transforming the lives of nurses and other key NHS workers.

“We have worked directly with local NHS trusts in Sussex to match the renovated bikes with specific nurses and other health workers who will really benefit from them.

“At a time of great national challenge, we are proud to help keep Britain moving by supporting everyone who still needs to travel by rail.

“Now, more than ever, is a time when we all need good neighbours, to stay connected, and help each other out.”

The scheme has now used all Southern Rail’s current stock of abandoned bicycles that can be made roadworthy.

Photo credit: West Sussex County Council