The slow roll-out which has been a feature of the Government’s Fix Your Bike scheme looks set to continue with only another 28,000 people set to benefit from the second tranche of vouchers – and still no date for when they will be released.
Intended as a mechanism to encourage more people to cycle, the Fix Your Bike scheme allows people to claim £50 to get a neglected old bike back on the road.
500,000 vouchers are due to be released in total, but the government decided this should happen in stages to avoid overwhelming bike repairers and also to assess public enthusiasm for the scheme.
A first wave of 50,000 vouchers was released at the end of July, the website crashing under the weight of interest with all vouchers snapped up in hours.
Since then, there have been no further releases.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request by cyclist Alexander Parsonage, the Department for Transport (DfT) said that the first and second releases of vouchers formed a pilot stage, “and we will seek to learn from this ahead of further releases of vouchers in the new year.”
Regarding the size and timing of the second release, the DfT said that approximately 28,000 vouchers would be released, plus any from the first release that had expired after not being used.
“We currently expect to release the second stage of the pilot in the coming months, although no date for this has yet been confirmed and Ministers have taken no decision on it.”
One mechanic told road.cc that the way vouchers were being released had slowed his workload as bike owners without a voucher were waiting around for the following wave.
Parsonage feels this will apply to many people.
“The system was delayed, then crashed, then all the vouchers they released were gone within hours.
“Bike shops now report that people have been putting off getting their bike serviced for months (and therefore people are either not riding their bikes or are riding potentially dangerous bikes) because they don’t want to spend money on a service when they know the next tranche of vouchers might be released at any time and they’d be out of pocket – myself included.”
The Fix Your Bike scheme has also been criticised by bike shops, who say they have been struggling to redeem the vouchers after carrying out repairs.
One mechanic told us: “It’s six weeks since I first redeemed a voucher after repairing a bike. I still haven’t received any payment from the government and have had to pay for parts for the bikes repaired.
“This makes participating in the scheme unnecessarily detrimental to cash flow. Working on bikes which aren’t in the scheme will be prioritised by many mechanics and shops if this isn’t urgently addressed.
“Why work on a bike which requires additional admin time and negatively impacts cash flow when there’s another one to work on which is simple to manage and will be paid for on completion?”