A day with Bromley Cyclists
The Bigfoot Hayes and Penge Go Ride project in the London Borough of Bromley successfully applied for funding from the Community Cycling Fund for London early in 2009.
Although the project only started up in spring this year, it continues to exceed expectations and to generate spin off opportunities by the week.
From modest ambitions to build just one cycle club focused on young riders and supported by the British Cycling Go Ride model, and with the intention of generating another club in the Borough for next season, the project is now already running three successful weekly Go Ride clubs in Bromley, and it is now been approached to provide training for adults who also want to ride.
“One of the mothers of the children who comes to the Bigfoot Club here in Bromley on a Saturday morning asked if we would consider training her and other mothers from the school who wanted to ride (and whose interest had been generated because of their children coming to the Bigfoot Club), to help them get over their fear of riding in traffic” said project leader, Rev Charles Potter.
These new adult training sessions will be run as led rides and Charles is hoping that the mothers will gain sufficient confidence to ride with their children.
'It’s not enough to paint cycle lanes and expect people just to get on their bikes and ride instead of drive – there is a fear of traffic and not quite knowing what to do around cars and buses – and not many people will just go out regardless.'
'But if we can help people build their confidence and give them a bit of road safety advice, then they will ride. Their kids are already riding well, and if we can get their Mums to ride with them, then we can generate a really good family activity which they can do over the forthcoming school holidays. These women have told us they want to ride so it’s a question of helping them over those initial hurdles.'
Charles has already got plans for how to develop this spin off.
'After the first ride, we will advertise it round the schools where we run the children’s sessions because there is already an interested network there. Most of the kids know each other, and the parents know each other, so it’s likely that they’ll talk and pass the word on, and develop it for us!'
The addition of adult training sessions was not entirely unexpected though.
Project co-ordinator Jon Burns notes:
'It’s quite interesting because we knew before we started this whole project, that the demand and interest from children in the Borough was there. We also knew that as the kids got interested, the parents and carers would also get interested and maybe get back on their own bikes.'
'And that’s exactly what has happened – parents are starting to realise that cycling is something that they can do with other parents, or with their own children, and that it’s fun and healthy and cheap. And if you ride your bike, you can go places and do things in the process without having to worry about finding new activities for children to do over the holidays. It’s just there.'
Bromley Cylists arranged a Go Ride demonstration and trial activities at the Pickhurst Junior School Fete on Sunday, June 28th.
A steady stream of young riders was signing up for the time trials on the course that had been set up. Charles, the project leader who is also a vicar, was going round on his recumbent. Some of the parents also had a go, and Bromley Cyclists received much positive feedback:
'That was really good fun – used to ride my bike constantly when I was a kid, but I’d forgotten how much fun it was. Now that I have seen the club here today, I’ll definitely be bringing my son along to it.'
Another dad said, 'I haven’t ridden for years, but now that I know I can still do it, I’m going to give it a go over the summer.'
A mother who had brought her son back four times for another go within an hour, commented, 'I’ve never seen him like this. He loves riding his bike but he doesn’t usually like clubs and groups.'
'But he’s been begging me all afternoon to have another go, and he now wants to come along to the club on Saturday’s. It’s marvellous that they’re running these (clubs) and I’m definitely going to make sure that all my friends with kids know about this. The kids love it!