An innovative cycling project which is transforming lives across North Kirklees is celebrating its second year on the road.
The Streetbikes project was set up by Gill Greaves in January 2012 with the aim of getting disabled and able bodied people into cycling, while providing a bike maintenance and recycling scheme run by young people in need of qualifications.
The community interest company has given away an incredible 2,100 recycled bikes to people in Kirklees since starting up and may people in need have benefitted this Christmas.
Gill said: “This Christmas we have been targeting those who are struggling through our work with schools and churches. We gave 12 bikes to a women’s refuge and we have gone into four different schools to do bike fixes.”
Attendance at Streetbikes’ weekly cycle sessions is growing all the time.
“When I set it up I really didn’t think it would be this big at all,” Gill said. “At one of our mixed ability sessions we had 120 people turn up – I think that’s because it’s not just a disabled thing, it’s an everybody thing and everyone feels included.”
Twice weekly mixed ability sessions are held at Spenborough cycling track in Liversedge and a weekly ‘Rock up and Ride’ session starts on the Spen Valley Greenway in Dewsbury Moor, where bikes are provided for those without.
Gill said the benefits of the sessions were not just physical. “Quite a few people who come have learning disabilities or autism and it’s quite a social thing for them. Many of them have made friends and see each other outside of the sessions.”
The organisations now has 20 volunteers – many are people who benefitted from the project and have decided to stay on and help. “It’s changed their lives,” said Gill. “We have given them confidence and people have come off benefits.
“We have one ex-squaddie who was 19 stone. He’s now 11-and-a-half stone and recently did a 105 mile ride to Scarborough – he says Streetbikes saved his life.”
Streetbikes also give young people a recognised qualification in bike mechanics, as well as getting young offenders to recycle bikes from scratch, which are then given back to the community they offended in.
Another strand of the project sees bikes given to people who have recently become employed to help them get to work.
Visit www.streetbikes.org.uk for more information.