The website for a government scheme offering bike repair vouchers to help get Britons on their bikes has crashed minutes after being launched.
As part of a £2billion anti-obesity drive, Boris Johnson on Monday announced plans to encourage cycling through a range of incentives.
Government plans include subsidising electronic bicycles for pensioners and commuters, and offering £50 repair vouchers so you can ‘Fix Your Bike’ and ride to work rather than use a car.
But despite launching the initiative at 11.45pm on a Tuesday night, demand for the vouchers has appeared to be unexpectedly popular and crashed the website.
Dozens of people took to social media to air their frustration, with some saying they had stayed up late just to be first in line to get a voucher.
Neil Visalvanich said: ‘It is probably easier to get tickets to Glastonbury than to get this stupid fix your bike voucher from the government, which was utterly predictable. Well done guys, really enjoyed staying up until midnight for this.’
Simon Jobson commented: ‘Well there’s a surprise, the ‘Fix your bike’ voucher scheme website already buckled under the pressure of people keen to get £50 off.’
Matthew Hemes joked: ‘Well this was worth staying up for…’ before adding, ‘£50 bike repair voucher? Computer says no.’
An initial 50,000 vouchers are being made available on the website a first-come, first-served basis for people in England, costing the government £2.5m.
The Prime Minister launched his anti-obesity campaign in Nottinghamshire on Monday, unveiling plans to subsidise electronic bicycles for pensioners and commuters.
The e-bikes are like regular bikes but have a small motor usually hidden in the frame to aid travel uphill or on longer journeys.
Ministers hope the programme will help those who are less fit or older, who might be daunted by regular bikes, to get back in the saddle.
They could be given up to a third off the £600 – £3,000 cost of a new machine to entice them to take more exercise or leave the car at home.
Mr Johnson said that drivers must understand they will be ‘sharing the roads’ as measures costing £2 billion are taken to promote cycling and walking.
Bicycles will be prescribed by doctors for patients and all Britons will be offered free training on how to ride.
Free repair vouchers worth £50 will be handed out and there will be a massive expansion of cycle lanes as part of a revolution unveiled today.
Mr Johnson said: ‘What we will do is create thousands of miles of protected cycle lanes – I really believe that protected cycle lanes are essential to give people the confidence people need, many people aren’t very brave or confident cyclists.’
He added: ‘What I also want to see is more work done to get motorists to understand that we are all going to be sharing the roads, going to be sharing it with cyclists, so be respectful, be courteous.
‘Things have been improving but there’s still a long way to go.’
Other measures include strengthening the Highway Code, improving legal protections, increasing lorry safety standards and working with the police and retailers to tackle bike thefts.
On a visit to Nottingham, Mr Johnson said: ‘You always could spend more and this is the most ambitious package ever – it’s £2 billion.
‘What we will do is create thousands of miles of protected cycle lanes – I really believe that protected cycle lanes are essential to give people the confidence people need, many people aren’t very brave or confident cyclists.’
The £2 billion investment was announced in February.
Labour’s shadow cycling minister Kerry McCarthy said: ‘Tory ministers have dragged their feet and failed to seize the opportunity this crisis has posed.
‘Although funding is welcome, cyclists will be rightly concerned about how long it is going to take to actually put these plans into practice.’
DfT figures show there has been a surge in cycling following the coronavirus outbreak.
Compared with the equivalent day in the first week of March, cycling usage nearly doubled over the weekend of July 18/19.
Monday July 20 – the most recent weekday for which data is available – showed cycling at 146% of pre-lockdown levels.