Giving the gift of cycling

Margaret loves her new bike!
Members of the 'Fat Club' cycle group from Fife made quite an impact on the cycling community back in May when they spoke about their experience of cycling at a conference in Edinburgh. Suzanne Forup got to hear more when she took them shopping for bikes...

It was an enormous pleasure last week to give bikes, on a long term loan, to three of the 'Fat Club' ladies from Kirkcaldy in Fife. The self-titled ‘Fat Club’ members have been without bikes for several months after completing a cycling programme.

Bikeless, they met my CTC colleagues at the Walking, Cycling, Connecting Communities conference who were aghast at the thought of anyone living without a bike (actually, most of them seem to think that having only one bike is pretty awful). Some careful budget re-forecasting ensued, and the ladies were soon trying out every bike in the Bike Station in Edinburgh..

The ladies will, hopefully, now be able to spread some bike love in their local community, encouraging others onto bikes, whatever their shape, size or fitness level. They have no aspirations for sporting glory or long-distance rides; their bikes were transport, getting them from A to B in an active and accessible way.

As we pushed the bikes back to the Station (no-one felt safe enough on Edinburgh roads, unfortunately) we talked about the barriers they had experienced in getting back on a bike: the sheer cost of any bike; safe, secure, accessible storage at home and safe cycle routes.

These ladies have been determined to get cycling again and the same grit has seen them campaigning locally and nationally to get their voices heard about the real experience of living where they do, in a disadvantaged area of Fife.

These ladies might not be winning any medals anytime soon, but they are my new cycle heroes.