Cycle 4 Health is designed to aid recovery from long or short term physical or mental health conditions. It also offers people who haven’t had the chance to cycle for whatever reason, the opportunity to give it a try. Over 12 weeks, participants receive expert cycle tuition, develop their cycling skills and go on led bike rides within a small and inclusive group. The projects currently run from a variety of sites in West Yorkshire including community centres, leisure centres and social enterprise hubs where all equipment is provided. Many people attending do not have access to a bike and so this helps to clear this initial barrier. The weekly structure is flexible and is driven entirely by the abilities of those attending.
The main route onto the programme is via referral from a professional within a health setting. This may be a local GP, health worker, case worker, an exercise team (usually within a local authority) or a healthy eating adviser who considers that 12 weeks of cycling and activity will have a positive effect on a person's mental or physical well-being.
Cycle 4 Health is currently being delivered by Cycling UK on behalf of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority City Connect project. It has three targets:
to increase participant activity levels thereby improving their health and wellbeing
to change participant travel behaviour by offering cycling as a mode of transport
to offer opportunities to cycle where it otherwise would not be possible.
Cycle 4 Health is currently delivered at the following sites in West Yorkshire:
Bradford Capital of Cycling – Bradford
Fearnville Leisure Centre – Leeds
Thornes Park Stadium – Wakefield
Field Head Hospital (NHS) – Wakefield
University Academy Keighley – Keighley
Leeds Road Sports Complex – Huddersfield
OSCA Foundation – Halifax
Kings Cross Fire Station – Halifax
Some of the outcomes from Cycle 4 Health are encapsulated by the quotes below:
“I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed the cycle course. I had gone from no exercise per week to over four hours per week and lost half a stone in the process! I would be very interested in any future courses you run to continue progress in my learning to cycle including a little bit of bike maintenance as I'm not at a go it alone stage yet!” Mary, Cycle 4 Health attendee.
"Cycling is a non-load bearing activity, which means it’s easier on your knees than walking or running. We start at the very beginning. Before we even sit on the bikes, we start with getting used to how hard to squeeze the brakes. That gives beginners confidence to know that they can stop the bike once they start off. Some people may already be able to cycle but there’s something holding them back. It could be the skills to ride on the road safely, or fitness or confidence. Whatever it is, a 12-week Cycle 4 Health programme will get you up and away and you’ll soon be cycling further than you thought possible." John, Instructor, Cycle 4 Health