BICYCLES recovered by the police are to be given to charity in a bid to encourage cycling among people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
The trial scheme in the Capital will see unclaimed bicycles and bike parts which are handed into police or found by officers being donated to Edinburgh-based cycling charity the Bike Station instead of being sold at auction.
The Bike Station, based in Causewayside, offers cheap second-hand bikes for sale, and carries out cycle repairs at a reduced rate, using second-hand parts. Unclaimed bikes – which have often been stolen by joyriders and then dumped – are currently stockpiled in a police compound and eventually put up for grabs at a public auction, with the cash going back to the force.
But Sergeant James Sinclair, from Police Scotland, said: “We decided that instead of selling on unclaimed bicycles at police auction, we would instead donate the recovered bikes and bike parts to the Bike Station.
“The charity provides a valuable service to the community, repairing bicycles and selling them on at an affordable rate, thereby encouraging people who may not have been able to afford a bike into cycling.
“At present this is a trial scheme that will run for a period of three months, and if successful we hope that the arrangement can be made permanent and if possible, rolled out to other areas.”
A study conducted across Scotland by Aberdeen University researchers two years ago found cycling rates were lowest among people living in areas of deprivation.
Rodney Service, warehouse manager at the Bike Station, said: “I would just like to say thank you to Police Scotland for donating the bikes, they will be a great benefit to the local community.”
Just last week, new figures showed people are switching in record numbers from driving to cycling and walking, partly because of high motoring costs.
According to statistics released under the city council’s Active Travel Action Plan, the number of people cycling into the city centre grew by a quarter between 2009 and last year.
Tram works, the escalating cost of living, record petrol prices and a growing eco-awareness, along with people’s awareness of the need to keep fit, have all been cited as prime catalysts for the change.
Cycle thefts in the Capital fell last year, with a total of 1268 reported to police between April and December, a two per cent fall on the same period a year before when 1293 cycles were stolen.
But certain hotspots saw a rise. Newington, which has a high student population, witnessed a 38 per cent increase, from 157 to 216 over eight months.