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Bike Station … a pedal power revolution

By on February 14, 2014

Cycling offers significant benefits in terms of health, wellbeing, the environment – and the wallet – and the Glasgow Bike Station team are determined to break down the barriers that prevent more of us getting onto the saddle, writes Ginny Clark.

Concerns about heavy traffic, confidence problems over skill levels, lack of dedicated routes and pathways – and even the lack of a bike – are all among the challenges. But the hardworking Kelvinhaugh-based charity have plenty of solutions … The Bike Station not only sell, repair and recycle bicycles, they work with a variety of organisations to promote sustainable transport, provide training and support and set-up special events and guided rides. They also run two important initiatives – A Better Way to Work and Play On Wheels.

Victoria Leiper, the Bike Station’s campaign manager, will be at the University of Glasgow on Thursday (Feb 20) for the Sustainable Transport Film Night, where they will join Future City in showing videos and discussing developments. Leiper will also be chatting about A Better Way to Work, now in the second year of a three-year project that supports employees to choose more active and sustainable forms of travel, from walking and cycling, to taking the bus or even car-sharing.

Financed by the Climate Challenge Fund, the Bike Station are working in partnership with a number of organisation across the city to offer businesses the tools and incentives to make sustainable travel more attractive to their staff. The message is simple – it’s a chance to boost everyone’s health and fitness, reduce stress and save money – and they might even have a bit of fun along the way.

“We’re working with businesses and community groups to provide a range of services through A Better Way to Work,” says Leiper. “We’re supporting people to be more active in short journeys, whether it’s commuting, going to university or just visiting family, friends and local shops. But it’s also about encouraging them to think about other ways of approaching what may be longer commutes to work, using public transport or making car journeys more efficient.

“Some people do lack confidence, or have a feeling of being unsafe as they are worried there is not a huge amount of cycle paths. But we can offer free cycle training lessons, do route planning sessions, taking them from where they live to work, and we also offer a buddy service. We do a bike loan, so you can borrow a bike for two weeks, and we also have kids trailers, seats and tag-alongs people can try out. There is also bike maintenance training, teaching people to fix punctures and brake problems themselves.

“So yes we’re promoting cycling, organising rides and group events within the workplace, but we’re also breaking down some perceptions about public transport. And under the scheme we provide 10-journey and flexible tickets together with train and bus network information. If we still can’t get some people out of their cars, then there are a number of other ways we can help, such as providing fuel-efficiency driver training in partnership with the DVL. All of this support and training is free to both employees and employers.”

So far, the Bike Station report they have engaged with 6000 people in 120 organisations throughout the city, saving 400 tons of carbon emissions in the process.
But pedal-power remains the wider focus for the Bike Station – and Leiper wants anyone who feels they need some help or encouragement to get in touch. It’s interesting that one of the biggest hurdles to encouraging people to cycle might be that fewer of us are able to do it … Learning to ride a bike was once a landmark moment in many children’s lives life but as the Bike Station team have discovered when it’s time for cycling proficiency at primary schools, increasing numbers of children haven’t even mastered the basics. It may partly be due to the fact children today spend much more time in indoors – it may also be related to issues surrounding childhood and freedom to roam.

But the Bike Station are part of a wider initiative that will certainly help tackle this problem, with a £232,000 grant from the People’s Postcode Trust for the Dream Fund project Play On Wheels – to give every four-year-old in Glasgow the chance to learn to ride a bike before they start school. Play On Wheels will be run in partnership by Glasgow Bike Station along with other charities the Cyclist’s Touring Club, Cycling Scotland and Play Scotland. The scheme will help to ensure all 7500 four-year-olds in Glasgow learn to cycle before starting school, regardless of their background or ability.

* Bio-Diverse Sustainable Transport Film Night on Thursday, February 20, 7-9pm @ Seminar Room 1, Wolfson Medical School, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, G12 8QQ

*Find out more about the Bike Station here and Better to Work here

The Play On Wheels project will – Create and maintain a pool of 500 bikes for children and their families, based in community settings to ensure everyone can use them. • Work with 50 community groups to establish family cycling groups, leaving a legacy beyond the funding period. • Set up an annual city wide ‘bike swap’ to give children who have outgrown their bikes free upgrades while ensuring bikes are reused where they are needed. • Host the UK’s biggest children’s cycling festival, bringing families together from across Glasgow.

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