Do One Thing is a regular series where we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. The latest instalment: why now’s the perfect time to donate your unused bike to someone who needs it.

The last 12 months have seen major changes to everyday life, and the way we get around is no exception. With people understandably wary of crowded public transport and also on the hunt for new ways to get outside and enjoy some exercise, the humble bicycle has soared in popularity. This has led to significantly higher prices for bikes, and in many cases a huge struggle in getting one at all – Cycling Weekly has even dubbed the trend ‘The Great Bike Drought'.

And even though we’ve many reasons to be optimistic about the gradual return of normality, this bike drought is set to linger as suppliers struggle to meet back orders from months ago. Brexit hasn’t helped either, with the imposition of new tariffs on certain bike parts adding to the jumble. Some industry figureheads suggest these shortages could now last until 2022.

This is bad news if you’re in the market for a new bike. And bad news if you’re already a regular bike user, as this overall shortage has been accompanied by increased demand for repairs and parts for existing bikes, which have in turn become pricier and harder to come by.

At the same time, however, England alone is home to an estimated 16.5 million unused bikes, forgotten in sheds or lying dormant in garages – many of which are in perfectly good condition. If you own one of these bikes, you could make a major difference to this ongoing bike crisis by digging it out, dusting it off, and giving it to someone in need of two wheels. Doing so mitigates the need for that person to buy a new bike, which will save valuable materials and resources, and it helps them to boost their health and wellbeing and reduce their carbon footprint much sooner – after all, the transport sector is the biggest source of carbon pollution in the UK. Plus, it’s just a kind and decent thing to do! Here are your options:

  1. Sell your unused bike

Bikes can be expensive pieces of kit, so if you’ve spent a lot of money on yours it’s understandable that you’d be reluctant to part with it for free. Websites such as Gumtree and Preloved are popular places to sell second-hand goods, although if you’ve got a more premium bike or want a more specialist service, check out bikesoup.com – it’s a dedicated cycling marketplace that makes selling your bike online safe and easy.

  1. Give your bike to someone in need

Not bothered about getting any cash for your old bike? Give it away for free. You can of course list it online (on Gumtree or Preloved, for example) on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, but you might prefer to make sure it’s going to someone who truly needs it. Search for local mutual aid groups on Facebook or neighbourhood app Nextdoor, or simply ask interested parties to tell you a little about the home your bike will be going to, and use your judgment.

  1. Donate your old bike to charity

There are plenty of charitable groups that will happily accept your old bike. See what’s available nearby first – most towns and cities have bike organisations or reuse groups that will happily take it off your hands. Alternatively, many national schemes have drop-off points around the UK. The Bike Project, for example, refurbishes and sells second-hand bikes with proceeds benefiting refugees, while Life Cycle UK operates a ‘Bike Back’ project that helps rehabilitate prisoners through employable skills and recognisable qualifications.

And if your bike has seen better days…

…recycle it! There’s no point letting it rust away when its parts could be recycled into something new. See what recycling services are nearby using this recycling locator.

The bottom line

A major shift in everyday life means that people are looking for cleaner and more sustainable ways of doing things, such as cycling – hopefully it’s a trend that will stick long after the pandemic has passed. Help push the change by digging your old bike out and getting someone else on it!

We would love to hear your comments and stories about the issues raised in this article:

 

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