Providing cycling mobility for children and youth from low-income households
Every Child gets a Bike
In spite of a hilly topography and altitude differences of more than 150 metres, about 25% of Tübingen's internal traffic is covered by cyclists. One reason for that can be seen in the decades of continuous cycling promotion. Nevertheless, the university city aims to convince even more people for cycling. As a next milestone, Tübingen wants to realize a cycling modal share of 30% in 2020. Against that background, target group-specific packages of measures were implemented.
However, there are households in Tübingen, in which adequate and safe bicycles are missing. In some of those cases, the lack is due to scarce financial resources. Hence, children and youth are affected by that situation as well as adults. A truth, which becomes visible during the municipality's Christmas project "Wish-Tree": In many of the participating low-income households, people ask for bicycles.
In Tübingen, about 1000 children grow up in such low-income households, obtaining social benefits and holding the so called "ChildrenCard", which allows price reductions in different fields of everyday life. In many of those families there is no money for buying or for maintaining bicycles, and so, the municipality`s project "Every Child gets a Bike" had been invented. Its implementation process is supported by a set of local partners (e.g. a repair shop, run by the Diakonie, a social and welfare service). The project is funded by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and its cycling scheme "BicycleCULTURE".
To use its resources efficiently, the project consists of three constitutive modules: (I) safety checks and maintenance of available bicycles, (II) repair of available bicycles (III) collection of unused bicycles, and transfer to the target group.
Safety Check and Maintenance of Available Bicycles
For announcing the first "BikeCheck-Day" in December 2012 children and youth from the target group were addressed on different ways: via newspapers, flyers, personal contact networks as well as during counselling interviews. On that day, families holding the "ChildrenCard" had the opportunity to check their bikes for free, regarding roadworthiness and defects. Little repairs, like tuning brakes, pumping up tires or oiling bicycle chains were done by the on-site mechanics. All in all, about 80 bicycles were checked. Even people from neighbouring municipalities were attracted by the offer.
Repair of Available Bikes
If bigger defects like damaged lights or run down brakes - were detected during the safety check, repair vouchers with a value up to 50 Euro were handed out to the children and youth. They could be redeemed at the repair shop runby the local Diakonie. In sum, 42 vouchers with a value of 2100 Euro were used.
Collection of unused bicycles and transfer to the target group
In addition to those measures, the local community was invited to give unused bicycles to the municipality as well as to donate money for the project. Thereby, all sizes of bicycles were requested. However it was important that the bikes were roadworthy - or could be made roadworthy by doing a little maintenance work. Bicycles with more fundamental defects were not suitable for the project, because the obligatory repair work had requested too many resources. All in all, Tübingers donated 230 bicycles. 178 of them were re-used, the others served as a spare parts fundus. Holders of the "ChildrenCard" could address their demand (size of tires and frame) in advance on a phone hotline. In spring, at the beginning of the cycling season, the cost free bikes were handed over to the families, complemented by a cycling helmet.
The project turned out as a really successful combination of child poverty prevention, social engagement, cycling promotion, direct recycling and environmental protection. The municipality, and the repair shop as well as the local newspaper received numerous positive feedbacks from the families. The success of the project shows the importance of usable bikes for young peoples everyday mobility and social inclusion.
Benefiting from the project, children and youth from low-income households get access to cycling mobility. Within the module concept, resources could be used effectively.
All the people, who received a voucher or a bicycle, were captured.
City of Tübingen