Suffolk Bike Aid is very pleased to learn that long before us the city of Bristol set up a scheme a bit like our own which we weren't aware of before. However, if anyone wishes to compare the schemes, we would like to point out - as we have done elsewhere - how subtle differences can be crucial to this idea's effectiveness.
Their model appears to be that councils will provide something at public expense and administrate the allocation of it, with all the attendant costs, whereas Suffolk Bike Aid enables self-funded, inexpensive, independent and positively uncontrolled local provision.
In June 2008 Bristol was named the UK's first Cycling City with public investment of over £22 million to enable unprecedented levels of innovation, involvement and creativity in cycling.
Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils are leading on the Cycling City project, working with Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset councils to promote cycling across the region.
The Cycling City project can provide portable workstations for use in communities across Bristol and they are inviting interested individuals and organisations to apply for them.
Applications from people living in communities where incomes are low and support for bike maintenance is poor are a priority.
The bike workstations contain a comprehensive set of bicycle tools, a bike stand and a track pump.
Naturally the council wants to ensure all this kit is well looked after and properly used.
They would also really like to see neighbourhood-based 'Bicycle Action Groups' who can champion cycling in their area and bring the bike workstations to community events or street parties.
On the other hand Suffolk Bike Aid anticipates that the inexpensive or practically free buy-in of our model means that businesses, small groups and kind individuals can provide Bike Aid stations immediately and so will declare themselves de-facto cycling champions of their building, street or village.
We don't mean to detract from Bristol's effort. It's a great idea to enable youth clubs or other groups to provide cycle maintenance or repair as an activity but for those who might compare Bike Aid to their scheme, we'd like to be fair to both sides to point out the differences as we don't see how that strategy can encourage cycling by reducing any reluctance to cycle because of the inconvenience of breakdowns although it has an important place in realising other outcomes.
Presently you can find the workstations in Bristol at:
Railway Path: Easton
Southmead Adventure Playground
The Bristol Bike Project