Their aim is to get more people cycling from in and around the local community, with a particular emphasis on women.
When LCC heard about 168 bikes that needed a home, we immediately thought of Londra Bisiklet Kulübü (LBK). In Januuary 2022, we helped link them up with a very generous donation by Bikester through the #BikeIsBest campaign. Ozgur and the other volunteers at LBK have gone on to use these bikes to enable more people who wouldn’t or couldn’t have otherwise have cycled to do so.
Prior to this donation, LBK had been giving away bikes to low income women in the community. They had over 350 women register their interest despite having just thirty bikes available. With this new stock of bikes, they donated many in turn to other Turkish and Kurdish community centres in order to replicate the LBK concept across north and east London.
LBK also made links to and shared the bikes with other community groups including local schools, NHS workers and The Outside Project; an LGBTQI+ community centre and shelter based in Southwark. At one local school, the teacher who arranged the donations had learned to cycle herself as an adult with the LBK volunteer trainers.
We went up to Enfield to visit LBK and hear from the people they work with. Many women in the community recalled not being allowed to cycle growing up due to cultural barriers and feeling discouraged from engaging as they grew up. These barriers are often exacerbated by other factors such as advertising which often encourages the image of the ‘cyclist’ as being a white male riding for sport rather than as a utility for everyone. LBK has been giving women the opportunity to learn to cycle with the help of their volunteer instructors and the stories they have to tell are immensely inspiring.
Iman is a local Enfield resident and has learned to cycle as an adult. She has experienced the stigmas around women cycling first hand and has managed to overcome these barriers with the support of LBK. Iman says:
“The teachers here were so encouraging. To be able to cycle felt incredibly liberating. I hope I will be a cyclist for life.”
LBK also run numerous training programs for children to help them learn to cycle at an early age. We heard from Sultan, the mother of a young girl called Eftalia who has hemiplegia and visual impairments. She was left without hope her daughter would ever be able to cycle until she found LBK. She decided to bring Eftalia along to a training session and has been blown away by the support of the team. Sultan says:
“It was a miracle for her to cycle. Her dad and I were in tears when she first set off on two wheels. Thank you so much to all the trainers and volunteers.”
Eftalia’s story is a fantastic example of what is possible when support and facilities are made available. Her parents are hopeful that cycling will continue to be a great help for her, both in terms of her health as well as her long-term independence.
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