Ten Greenstead residents received the first free Essex Pedal Power bikes on Saturday 17 June, as part of Colchester’s community cycling initiative to giveaway over seven-hundred free bikes in Greenstead by the end of 2025.

This exciting project aims to provide more people with the many benefits of cycling, such as improved physical and mental health, and access to training, employment and education opportunities.

Cycling is a skill for life, but not everyone can afford a bike. Colchester City Council is excited to support this community-led project. The £1.32m programme is a significant step towards addressing inequalities and creating new and exciting opportunities for local residents.

Essex Pedal Power launched in Clacton and Jaywick Sands in 2021 and following the pilot’s success, the project has expanded into other areas in Essex including Basildon, Colchester and Harwich. The Colchester programme is a partnership of Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot; Essex County Council; The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS); Colchester City Council; Sport England; Cycling UK and local community groups and volunteers.

Cllr Natalie Sommers, Colchester City Council Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: “Essex Pedal Power is truly a remarkable initiative for the council to be a partner in. It’s a collaboration with our residents that will help overcome obstacles to cycling for one of our most deprived communities. By giving bikes away for free, we will help address inequalities and create new and exciting opportunities for local residents.”

Councillor Lee Scott, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport said: “Active Travel is better for the environment, better for people’s health, reduces congestion and avoids creating pollution. Providing access to sustainable forms of transport is a key part of Essex County Council’s ambitions for climate action and our wish to provide people with alternative ways to travel. I am delighted that the scheme has now expanded into Greenstead after the pilot in Clacton and Jaywick was so successful.”

Gwen, one of the Essex Pedal Power recipients, said: “It all started from a meeting in the community centre and a friend recommended this to me to help bring me out of shell and give me more confidence going forwards.

“I have had quite a tough time, recently, so I am looking forward to getting on my bike to take my mind of things and help focus on myself and the future. I plan to start using the bike locally, while I build up my confidence, but it will be nice to see the nearby scenery, as well as it being good for me getting some more exercise.”

Essex Pedal Power is excited to be part of the larger effort to revamp and improve the Greenstead area. The Heart of Greenstead scheme is a key part of Colchester’s £18.2 million Town Deal Funding. The initiative is working with the community to create a new multi-use community hub, improving access to vital services like a new doctor’s surgery and pharmacy, a library, a pre-school, and more.

Colchester has also been involved in other exciting cycling projects, including supporting Wheels for All (a nationally recognised charity that encourages fun cycling activities for anyone regardless of their needs, using a range of adapted bikes), refurbishing and donating over one-hundred unwanted wheeled items, hosting the finish of Stage 1 of the Ford RideLondon Classique, and opening a state-of-the-art £28.7million sports park with one of the largest cycling tracks in the country. With this latest initiative, Essex Pedal Power is building on Colchester’s rich cycling heritage in the city, and promoting healthy, sustainable lifestyles for everyone.

Applications for a free bike are open to eligible residents in Greenstead. You can learn more about project and apply here: Essex Pedal Power – Greenstead, Colchester – Active Essex