My client, London Borough of Harrow found themselves in a rare predicament at the end of the financial year 2014/15. Despite training pupils in 84% of their state-funded primary schools that year, a small surplus of cycle training funding remained, with an imminent expiry date. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to pilot activities in the area that would encourage community change and (hopefully!) have a positive social impact.
During the May half term holidays I planned, organised and managed the Tour de Harrow, a week-long cycling festival in Harrow that:
- promoted cycle training opportunities
- provided accessible opportunities to try cycling
- supported our aim to get more families cycling together
- encouraged more people to make more journeys by bike
Each day ran an almost identical schedule, allowing word to spread, momentum to build, trainees to improve and progress through our courses, cyclists to return and participate in the variety of activities, and for an atmosphere of support, friendliness, community, adventure, and excitement to build.
Our daily timetable consisted of:
- Learn to ride lessons for complete beginners aged 3-11
- Cycle skills training (Bikeability Level 1) for ages 5-11
- A Bike Club for Teens (Bikeability Level 2) for ages 10-16.
- A Safari Bike Ride, a bike-based treasure hunt that encouraged participants to explore the park in which we were based.
- A 10-mile bike ride around the borough to raise awareness of quietways and cycle paths, and to build residents’ confidence cycling on the roads.
- Basic cycle maintenance training, to equip residents with the skills to make cycling a sustainable transport choice for them and their families.
- ‘Dr Bike’, pop-up bike servicing.
- A cycling roadshow for residents to drop in, borrow bikes and cycle in our secure area. The roadshow included different types of bikes and karts, as well as equipment, such a child carriers and trailers.
Since getting back to the office I have been tallying up the numbers. Are you ready to find out just how many residents we got cycling in one week? *drumroll please…*
744 roadshow participants
105 children learning to cycle
78 children improving their cycle skills
48 cyclists on the Safari ride
35 cyclists on the 10 mile ride
9 wannabe mechanics on our maintenance course
I was taking photos during the week and I’m now pleased to present a short photo diary of the week…
The meticulously stacked equipment that we unloaded every morning and packed away each afternoon…
All hands on board to get set up for our 10am opening each day…
The kids that cycled one-handed for the first time, including this trainee, who gave me such an enthusiastic wave ‘hello’, he promptly fell of his bike.…
The parents that found new ways to cycle with their families…
And the families that brought picnics, so that they could spend the whole day with us.
The teenagers that turned up day after day to go cycling with Mat…
And the woman that cried with happiness after she rode a bike for the first time in her life
The superhuman, super thorough, super personable Dr Bikes…
The adults that jumped at the chance day after day to cycle 10 miles on the Harrow roads…
And the parents that embraced the opportunity to let their teenage children become more independent (even if they wouldn’t share the map…).
The gorgeous weather…
And Friday’s not-so-gorgeous weather…
But even the rain didn’t keep the Harrow residents away!
And finally, getting to practice my joined up handwriting every day.