Highlights of Cycling UK in Scotland in 2016

My Christmas wish - safe cycling for everyone
It’s been an incredible year of growth for Cycling UK in Scotland. Head of Development Scotland, Suzanne Forup, takes us through some of the highlights of 2016 and then her own Christmas wishlist.

This year will certainly be one to remember; for many people 2016 will register for its political upheavals and whilst the future remains a concern in my EU citizen filled household, this year has seen Cycling UK in Scotland grow and flourish.

Play on Pedals

The Play on Pedals project in Glasgow has just achieved our dream of reaching 7000 preschool children with the joy of cycling by helping them learn to ride a bike before they go to school. Over the last three years, the programme has developed from the initial ‘night before the deadline’ application to a unique community-based programme of engagement, harnessing the enthusiasm of hero organisations and early-years providers across the city. Many people have been involved in the success of the programme, particularly our Play on Pedals partners Cycling Scotland, Glasgow Bike Station and Play Scotland, but the work by our co-ordinators - Polly and Charlotte - has been the driving force behind the scheme and I’m in awe of what they have achieved.

All-Ability Cycling Centre 

In Edinburgh our All-Ability Cycling Centre (ABC) worked with nearly 300 people experiencing challenges in getting cycling. From participants with multiple, complex disabilities that have never been on a bike to older people looking to get cycling again after many decades, David and his volunteer team have found a bike and the right support to get everyone cycling. Participant interviews were full of praise for the staff and volunteers, and reading through the transcripts brought me to tears as I read of the joy, independence and hope that the project has given to both adults and children with disabilities and their families.

“It's just been phenomenal, the difference that it's made, not just to him but to us and our relationship. To the whole family, it's just been absolutely amazing. It's a real amazing journey.”

Edinburgh ABC participant

Belles on Bikes 

Our Belles on Bikes network has strengthened thanks to funding from the Big Lottery to establish new groups and enable leaders from across Scotland to inspire each other, undertake training and provide essential peer support. With groups in Moray, Inverclyde, Tayside, Fife, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Scottish Borders, Aberdeenshire, Stirling, Falkirk and Cumbernauld we’re helping hundreds of women get cycling together every month. We’re enabling families to get pedalling too and, despite some horrendous weather conditions, we held a well-attended series of ‘Bike Curious Family’ events with partner organisations to show the many different ways of getting cycling with children. We are now supporting parents to get Kidical Mass family cycling groups running so that local communities can explore the backroads, quiet lanes and greenspaces where they live.

The Big Bike Revival 

The Big Bike Revival kicked off in Scotland in September with a ministerial launch and the support of our ambassador Michelle McManus, whilst a flood of activity behind the scenes ensured community events were run in every local authority. Just twelve weeks into their jobs, our Big Bike Revival team had worked with 81 organisations to run over 500 events, enabling more than 20,000 people to get cycling. Their infectious enthusiasm is now focused on supporting organisations to get skilled and ready to run activities for themselves and their communities.

None of this work is possible without our funders, and we’re enormously appreciative of the support we’ve been given by Transport Scotland, the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, RS MacDonald, City of Edinburgh Council and the Big Lottery's Awards for All. We’re also grateful for the support of our friends and partners, particularly Sustrans Scotland and Cycling Scotland, for their generous provision of hot desks, meeting space and unquantifiably large amounts of tea.  

It’s been privilege to work on all these programme and projects this year, enabling thousands of people to get cycling wherever they live in Scotland, and we’re working hard to ensure that we have the funding to continue this work next year and beyond. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a job I love, but it’s Christmas so I’m asking for one thing more, something that everyone that rides a bike in Scotland can help me with.

What I want to see in 2017 is a pledge from our politicians that will transform our country, a commitment to funding and delivering infrastructure that will enable everyone to choose cycling whatever their age or ability. You can help with this by supporting We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote. In 2017 we want you to contact your local political candidates and ask them if they support our three campaign asks for investment, infrastructure and local priorities. Just an email, Facebook message, tweet or chat on your high street will show them that their constituents want a healthier, wealthier and happier Scotland where people can walk and cycle safely for everyday journeys. Check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to see how you can get involved.

Merry Christmas!