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  • Discover how Bikeworks’ Ride Side-by-Side cycles have been addressing isolation across London
  • Discover how Bikeworks’ Ride Side-by-Side cycles have been addressing isolation across London

    Last summer Bikeworks scaled an innovative Ride Side-by-Side cycle taxi service across London, thanks to funding from the Department of Transport. 

    Having delivered a successful pilot addressing social isolation experienced by older and disabled people, further exacerbated by the pandemic, the social enterprise scaled their cycle fleet to deliver across London, reaching even more people to show the difference cycling can make.

    Each Ride Side-by-Side cycle is a mechanical masterpiece enabling up to three passengers to get out and about, to make journeys in and around their community. Led by a trained Cycle Pilot, passengers can participate using the e-assist, or just sit back and let the Cycle Pilot do all the leg work. 

    As explained by a member of the team “We call these the smile making machines” “The best thing about being a Cycle Pilot is definitely meeting amazing people. It’s an all-ability service and passengers come from a very wide range of ages, backgrounds and conditions”.

    The Ride Side-by-Side provides people who are less likely to have access to cycling with an alternative and social form of transport. Passengers enjoy gentle exercise, while taking a practical trip to the shops, hospital or an appointment, or they can book a leisure ride providing a chance to make connections with other people.

    Since launching and scaling the operation Bikeworks has achieve impressive results, demonstrating how cycling can be used as a tool for good for everyone:

    • 3000+ passenger trips delivered 
    • 800+ passengers engaged
    • 160+ passengers have used the service more than once
    • 40 passengers have used the service more than 15 times
    • 30+ community groups engaged
    • 16 Cycle Pilots Trained
    • 8 London Boroughs received the service


    “It’s been an incredible journey for Bikeworks, we exist to use cycling to address the toughest social challenges. The Ride Side-by-Side is about being more than a community cycle taxi service. We’ve been overwhelmed by stories shared. People’s lives have been changed because they’ve made friends, not to mention the positive impact on their health. All because the service is fun, it gets people out of their homes providing regular social exercise.” Zoe Portlock, Co-Founder/ Co-CEO


    Michael has been using the service weekly for the last couple of months. Healthwise he is in and out of hospital a lot for cancer and stroke treatment.

    “He told us the extra fitness gained from using the service had vastly improved his recovery time post treatment, saying, ‘the doctor was shocked’. Michael no longer needs to stay overnight in hospital after treatment and is overflowing with positivity about the difference made using the service.” Colin, Cycle Pilot


    Cycle Pilot, Andreas (right), taking passengers to a seniors lunch at the Community Hub in Waltham Forest.

    Rosemary (pictured below) told us what she struggles with more than ever is loneliness. After living on the streets and battling illness, Rosemary is now in temporary accommodation. Over the past months the Ride Side-by-Side service has become very important to her. Rosemary goes shopping, to medical appointments and visits the local Day-Centre. Most of all, it’s a chance for a good chat and a laugh together with Cycle Pilot, Colin (pictured below).

    Cycle Pilots Colin (left) and Project Manager Will (right) taking passengers around London parks


    Cycle Pilot Saga with Brian ‘The Calligrapher’ taking a ride around Exmouth Market. Brian is 90, and wants to continue to enjoy all the benefits of cycling.


    Having scaled the service during the Winter, at the height of a cost-of-living and fuel poverty crisis, the Ride Side-by-Side developed regular sessions with local warm and food banks to best connect with isolated Londoners. Local partners have been central to connecting the service with those who would most benefit from it.

    Bow FoodBank Operations Manager “We were so excited that Bikeworks wanted to partner with us, people who would not have considered using a cycle service have enjoyed their rides and the company and support of the amazing Cycle Pilot Saga.”


    For people with limited mobility, including older Londoners, the service has become another alternative way to travel.

    “Andreas the Cycle Pilot was lovely and the service went down brilliantly! We have had lots of interest from the Seniors and loads of enquiries asking when it will be back.” Waltham Forest Community Hub

    Bikeworks ride side by side cycle service in London

    Cycle pilot Erma

    Alan tried out the Ride Side-by-Side at an event, now he uses it to go to the community centre. “I have no family so it gets me out and socialising. It’s helped with my confidence and increased the amount of exercise I do. I’ve noticed my mental and physical health has improved.” “I enjoy the fresh air and socialising with the other passengers. It not only makes me smile but onlookers smile too. I’ve discovered streets that I never knew existed and I’ve lived in this area for 28 years.”

    The partnership with the Department for Transport has come to an end. Bikeworks is keen to continue to ride on the back of the success of the past year, having proved the difference made.

    What’s next?

    An evaluation including key findings of the service will be launched on Bikeworks 17th Birthday. So please do come and join us on Saturday 16th September and trial the smile machine for yourself!

    Bikeworks is looking to identify new opportunities to keep the service running. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more. 

    Contact info:
    Monday-Friday 9-5.30pm, on 020 8980 7998 (option 8) or send us an email enquiries@bikeworks.org.uk