A popular scheme to help people access work and training has seen a boost after it secured an extra 60 e-cycles, almost doubling its vehicle fleet.
Wheels 2 Work was established in 2018 and, to date, has helped around 200 people across the Tees Valley who do not have easy access to public transport or a private vehicle secure affordable transport, so they can get to their job or education.
The programme, which offers 75 Super Soco CPx electric motorbikes for hire, has now branched out into electric bicycles after it was awarded £161,000 of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.
The move is expected to support an extra 90 people per year from right across the Tees Valley in getting to and from employment or education as, unlike the electric motorbikes, no licence is needed to ride the e-cycles. Around £50million of improvements to cycle routes right across the region are now under way, helping make it easier and better than ever for people to get on their bikes.
This is the latest boost for the scheme, delivered by Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, after Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen last year announced that the scheme would be extended until March 2024.
Mayor Houchen said: “This scheme really does provide a lifeline for those across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool who need to get to work or training but don’t have ready access to a vehicle or public transport or work awkward hours.
“We’re working hard to help create thegood quality, well-paid jobs people need right now, as well as the careers of tomorrow in the cleaner, safer and healthier industries of the future. But there’s no point in doing that if local people can’t get to them, that’s why schemes like this are so important.
“Wheels 2 Work’s electric motorbikes require training and at least a provisional driving licence, but there’s no such requirement for e-cycles and anyone from 16 up can access the scheme. This means we can give people more options for easier and quicker access to transport. Along with schemes like our Tees Flex on-demand bus service, this is yet another way we’re supporting people who find it hard to get about by traditional means of transport.”
Wade Tovey MBE, Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency Chair, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority to be able to extend the existing Wheels 2 Work fleet to include 60 new e-cycles from the iconic British bicycle manufacturer Raleigh. They offer a healthy, environmentally friendly and flexible means of transportation for those struggling to use public transport to reliably access work, training or education across the Tees Valley, including extending access to sixteen-year-olds for the first time”