Belfast Bike Club gets hundreds of young people cycling

Tim Edgar mountain biking with Shankill Area Project Bike Club
In just four months, over 400 young people went mountain biking with Shankill Area Project Bike Club. The group of riders learnt new skills, from basic bike handling up to technical MTB skills.

The Shankill Area Project and Glencairn Youth Initiative teamed up with Bike Club to deliver cycling activities for teenagers in Northern Ireland.

The aim is to tackle issues that young people face on a regular basis, as well as encouraging them to achieve and play an active role in their communities. The mountain bike scheme works with young people to build their confidence and fitness, too.

Cycling UK's Cycling Development Officer in Belfast, Tim Edgar, set up a Bike Club with qualified volunteer mountain bike instructors and road cycling instructors to help young people gain skills and knowledge of cycling.

Targeting teenagers

This project is area based and has the benefit of working with large numbers of young people and those deemed 'hard to reach' from different areas around the greater Shankill.

It helps young people and volunteers gain accreditation through the programme. It also aims to create local bike trails in conjunction with Belfast Activity Centre.

In the first year, the target was to work closely with 300 young people through this initiative. Within the first four months of running four sessions a week, as well as summer schemes, they have engaged 400 young people. In addition, 100 children took part in a five-day trip to the north coast of Ireland in July.

Cycling UK working in partnership

The youth organisations are part of the Belfast Education and Library Board. The teams work throughout the whole of Greater Shankill with young people aged 12-25.

The main bulk of the project's work consists of centre-based work and detached street-based youth work (which means working with young people on the streets of Belfast).

The project delivers training programmes, personal and social development group work sessions and supports summer programmes across the whole of Greater Shankill and North Belfast.

Cycling UK's Tim Edgar works closely with different youth organisations in the area and other community organisations. Partnerships involved in this mountain bike Scheme include:

  • BELB Youth Service (Employer)
  • Belfast City Council & Cycling UK + ASDA Bike Club Initiative (Funder)
  • Belfast Activity Centre (Specialist Adviser)
  • Cycling UK (National Awarding Body)
  • Shankill Area Project & Glencairn Youth Initiative (Facilitator of Bike Club Locally)
  • Greater Shankill Partnership (Supporter in reference to Greenway Initiative)
  • Shankill Area Project Steering Group (33 member groups locally)