A NEW bike hire scheme for the Sale West area has been given its training wheels.

Residents got on their bikes with the cycle team from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) as part of the new ‘Bike Pod’ cycle hire scheme.

The low-cost community bike hire project launched in January to give residents access to bikes and helmets for a small fee.

The scheme is now gearing up to offer organised bike rides and TfGM is helping train volunteers to become cycle leaders.

The Bike Pod is based at Manor School in Sale West and has been spearheaded by the Sale West and Ashton-on-Mersey Partnership (SWAP).

As well as bike hire, regular cycle repair workshops are planned to help people learn how to fix their own bikes or get repairs done.

Dave Newton, TfGM’s transport strategy director, said: “This is just the kind of forward thinking, community based cycling initiative that we’d love to see happening across Greater Manchester.

“Not everyone has a car, and bikes can make it much easier for people to reach local services and link up with the wider public transport network.

“TfGM offers free cycle refresher courses for adults who might lack confidence cycling on road, or who haven’t ridden a bike for a while.

“We have plans to build a new cycle hub in Sale town centre to provide secure, covered cycle storage – so if residents want to go a bit farther afield they’ll be able hire a bike, leave it behind in safety and hop on a tram.”

Marie Price is Health Improvement Officer for NHS Trafford, which helped secure funding for the Bike Pod.

She said: “All the SWAP partners are working together to improve the quality of life for residents in the Sale West area.

“It’s great that people can now borrow bikes for a small fee for leisure rides, exercise, and to access local services or work. As well as making it easier to get about, cycling can be great for your health.

“I’d encourage people to come down to the Bike Pod, rent a bike and give it a go. Sale town centre is easily reachable from the Sale West area by bike along quiet and traffic-free routes.”

TfGM offers free cycle refresher courses to any adults who are new to or returning to cycling after a break to give them the confidence to ride safely.

Courses can be booked via the TfGM website www.tfgm.com/cycling or by phoning 0300 123 1675 and are open to any adult who lives or works in Greater Manchester.