The Big Bike Revival visits the Outer Hebrides
Since the very beginning of the project, the Big Bike Revival has been keen to make sure that lots of different communities in Scotland are given the opportunity to embrace cycling, especially in rural and more isolated areas like the Western Isles. Cycling UK Scotland hosted events across all 32 local authority areas in Scotland with the help of our community group partners of all shapes and sizes. One such partner is the Lewis and Harris Youth Clubs Association (LHYCA), so we asked them about their experiences with cycling activities in a rural community and what they’ve been doing with the Big Bike Revival.
Lewis and Harris Youth Clubs Association is a volunteer-led charity based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was founded in 1964 to benefit the young people of the island, as well as to support the network of youth clubs local to Harris and Lewis. Their services are open to all and are fully inclusive, and their interest in providing cycling activities for the local community made them a great fit for the Big Bike Revival.
The Outer Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris are a mecca for cycle tourists due to the stunning scenery and quiet roads. But what about cycling for locals? LHYCA was keen to get involved with the Big Bike Revival as they wanted to grow the cycle skills and confidence of families and individuals around Lewis and Harris, especially in Stornoway. They were also interested in the benefits of coming together as a community and inspiring people to get back on their bikes for everyday journeys and other types of cycling.
We’d be keen to do more to encourage cycling locally, so the idea of community clubs to keep people riding their bikes over the darker months really appeals.
Neal Ingram, Chair of LHYCA
The charity decided to offer an open day at the end of October with a wide range of activities, which included road cycle safety skills sessions, bike servicing and repair, police bike marking, a cycle-powered smoothie maker, bike jumble sale, face painting, Bikeability sessions and adapted cycles. Led rides were also on offer, so residents could see the low-traffic routes on offer when cycling around Stornoway.
The open day was a real community affair. Volunteers from LHYCA worked in partnership with local youth group, the Bridge Youth and Community Group to make the day a success. Adapted bikes were provided by the Highland Cycle Ability Centre, community police officers attended to manage bike marking, council volunteers did Bikeability training and local bike shops Bespoke and Bike Hebrides were on hand with bike mechanics and repairs.
Neal Ingram, Chair of LHYCA said: “We could see the opportunity to give something back to the community, and it was especially worthwhile to local families and individuals to get their bikes serviced for free and gain basic knowledge of maintenance and cycle skills to help them ride more regularly. It was also a good opportunity to collaborate with local bike services, organisations and businesses."
The next step for the group is to develop cycling opportunities to the wider community with training to deliver cycling activities and skills, including ride leaders. They are interested in the community cycling club programme from the Big Bike Revival to help get them going, as support includes a variety of training, membership to a large network of cycling groups across Scotland and insurance for running led rides. Neal said, “We’d be keen to do more to encourage cycling locally, so the idea of community clubs to keep people riding their bikes over the darker months really appeals.”