A free cycle-taxi service has launched in Waltham Forest, offering rides to isolated residents to help them get out and about.
The service, run by Bikeworks, is available during three slots a week within a three-mile radius of the Low Hall Depot in Walthamstow.
Each electric-assisted bike can fit up to three passengers, who can pedal along with the ride if they like, steered by a trained “pilot”.
It is hoped that the service will help lonely or disabled residents get out and about, allowing them to run errands or go on pleasant trips around the borough.
Jim Blake-More, Bikeworks co-founder, said people who have already tried the service “come away with a big smile on their face”.
He said: “Loneliness affects us all in different ways and, for us, this is the perfect way of getting out because it’s very different. By the end, people feel safe, confident and happy.”
Bikeworks has six bikes in the borough – funded by the Department of Transport – which have adjustable seats with comfortable backrests.
The Dutch-built bikes allow passengers to pedal along with the rider, which is “optional but encouraged”.
To encourage socialising, an option is available at the booking stage that leaves any spare seats available to strangers who may wish to join.
In a short demonstration ride offered to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Wednesday, several members of public greeted the unusual sight of the side-by-side bike as it passed.
Pilot and service co-ordinator Will Thompson said the ride was much less stressful than regular cycling as drivers are “entirely patient” with the unusual vehicle.
He added: “We’ve done a couple of rides with a group of over 65s who have a monthly get together at a pub.
“Yesterday I took a lady there who wouldn’t have been able to get there otherwise, as dial-a-ride is her only other option and she has mobility issues.”
To make a booking visit www.bwcrm.co.uk/book-cycletaxi/ or call 0208 980 7998 and choose option five.