Bike libraries have been launched across Greater Manchester to help residents leave their cars at home and head out on two wheels - with more facilities being rolled out.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says there are currently 15 locations in the city-region where bikes can be borrowed, with a further 13 in the pipeline. A total of 26 organisations, ranging from primary schools to healthcare providers, have also received £5,000 grants to help set up bike libraries.
Active travel commissioner Dame Sarah Storey said bike libraries were a vital part of Greater Manchester’s transport strategy as they enable people to try out cycling in their local areas for little money. It is also hoped they will help ensure shorter journeys in the city-region are done in a greener and more sustainable way.
Here’s what you need to know about where the bike libraries currently are and what has been said about them being unveiled in the city-region.
Where are the bike libraries in Greater Manchester and how many others are planned?
There are now 15 bike libraries operating in six of the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport. These have opened following a £145,000 cash investment from TfGM.
The full list of bike libraries where you can currently rent bikes is:
- Blackrod Sports and Community Centre, Bolton
- Radcliffe Bike Library, Bury
- Chorlton Bike Deliveries, Manchester
- Communities For All, Manchester
- Age UK, Manchester (Central)
- Age UK, Manchester (South)
- Harpurhey and Moston Bike Library, Manchester
- Manchester Cycling Academy, Manchester
- Nacro Bike Library, Manchester,
- Yaran Project, Manchester
- Haughton Green Community Centre, Manchester
- Positive Cycles, Oldham
- Hope Citadel Healthcare CIC, Rochdale
- Dirt Factory, Stockport.
More information on all of these schemes is available in the Bike Libraries section of the TfGM website. The majority of the bike libraries have standard bicycles in a variety of sizes available for people to borrow for free, although some do request a small charge to support with maintenance and upkeep of the bikes. Some are open to anybody while others only loan bikes to an organisation’s staff, pupils or members.
Across Greater Manchester there are a variety of two-wheeled vehicles available, including bicycles for adults and children, trikes and Bromptons, which were delivered in partnership with the Wheels for Heroes scheme.
TfGM says a further 13 bike libraries will be rolled out over the coming months. Transport bosses say they are also looking to get more non-standard cycles, such as the ones used by disabled people, made available through the libraries. TfGM says it is working with Wheels for All, which currently operates across Greater Manchester, on this.
TfGM also says anyone who has a bike they can no longer use can give it to a bike library, and donations would be gratefully received. The transport body urges anybody in that position to get in touch with their nearest facility and talk to them.
What has been said about the bike libraries?
TfGM says having bicycles for hire and accessible to residents is one of the five key points in its recently-refreshed active travel mission which was unveiled at an event in Wigan. The transport body also says walking, cycling and wheeling all play a major role in its vision of a fully-integrated public transport system known as the Bee Network.
Active travel commissioner for Greater Manchester Dame Sarah Storey said: “Bike libraries are an essential part of the GM strategy and enable more people to access cycling in a way and at a time that is right for them.
“Many people using the libraries may have cycled before but need the flexibility of borrowing a bike to help them rebuild their confidence and try new routes. They are also a good way of working out what sort of bike they may need.
“Along with the cycle hire scheme, which aims to support shorter journeys by bike in specific parts of Manchester, Salford and Trafford, bike library loans are reaching further afield and enabling people to explore their local area at their leisure.”
It is thought that around 200 million trips of under a kilometre are made by car in Greater Manchester each year. Transport bosses are keen to see many of these journeys done using active travel instead to reduce congestion and air pollution. They say residents should be able to cover a kilometre in around 15 minutes or foot or in four minutes if riding.
‘It’s made a big difference’
One community keen to talk about the positive effects of having a bike library is the one based around Communities For All in Cheetham Hill. It launched its bike library back in May 2022 and says the concept has been embraced by local people who have been able to take up the opportunity of riding a bike which was not previously available.
Mohammed Ali, manager at Communities for All, said: “A lot of people in the area don’t have a bike, and don’t have space to store a bike at home, so our bike library is perfect for people to get access to a bike and take ownership of it during their hire.
“We’ve been hiring out bikes to people that want to go out on their own, or go for rides with their children, for as long as they need them. We also use the bikes for different sessions that we run at the centre, to help members of the community build confidence when riding. It’s made a big difference, so far.”