In summer 2021, the county of Yorkshire, UK, launched the bicycle library in Withernsea as part of the Interreg North Sea Region project Bicycles and ITS (BITS). Together with local partner SHoRes, the cycle library has been established as a place where people can borrow bikes, while being supported by a ‘cycle buddy’. The goal is to get people cycling with enthusiasm and confidence, thus contributing to greater participation in cycling by the target group in their community (for social and work-related trips), and to a healthier lifestyle. At the same time, a bicycle café and bicycle workshop were opened. Six months after the launch, the project was expanded, both in the number of bikes and in the locations where they are active.
What makes the project innovative? The bicycles are equipped with sensors that collect data - for example in the routes taken, speed, road quality, and braking. For the region, this is valuable information to improve their cycling policy (safety, quality, etc.). At the same time, data on cycle use, milage and charging is used by the ‘cycle buddies’ to stimulate and provide support to the user where necessary. This approach has allowed for adapting the project as necessary.
A key benefit of the project is that, thanks to the sensors the impact can be measured, and with the help of the Social Value Engine, the social gain is calculated. An initial estimate is that each pound invested will yield £3.39 in social value! This information is important because impact is usually poorly measured or not measured at all for these types of projects, despite its importance for underpinning more structural solutions in this area.