Community cycling groups Onna high after sharing award!

Whalley Range on Wheels and Onna Bike receive their awards from Caroline Russell. From left: Ian Donnelly, Eve Holt, Caroline Russell, Jon Faulkner, Mumtaz Khan and Andrew Gray
The quality of entries for our Best Community Project award was so high that it ended up being shared between two extremely worthy and hard-working groups – Whalley Range on Wheels and Onna Bike. Both are Cycling UK Community Clubs, both have been heavily involved in our Big Bike Revival – and both have been helping people to cycle, with fantastic benefits to their respective communities.

Whalley Range on Wheels

Whalley Range on Wheels comprises a band of committed volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to make Alexandra Park in South Manchester a real hive of cycling activity.

Project co-ordinator Eve Holt has made it possible for hundreds of people to get on their bikes, with regular activities and events for the whole family, including adults learning to ride for the first time, improver sessions for rusty returners, road training, bike maintenance workshops and social rides.

Cycling UK Trustee Welna Bowden, Chair of the Awards Committee, said: “People attend the sessions come rain or shine and the atmosphere is always positive and welcoming.

“A small group of volunteer mechanics has helped bring donated bikes back to life so that some participants now have their own bike.

“The project has grown through word of mouth and with there being a physical presence in the park. It’s an excellent example of fluid working across organisations with volunteers working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester Parks services.

“Whalley Range on Wheels is exactly the sort of project that can make a real difference.”

Project co-ordinator Eve said: “The appetite from local people has been wonderful.  People of all ages and backgrounds come to the sessions and both participants and volunteers alike talk about the impact it has on their wellbeing and lives.

“Thanks to the Big Bike Revival, we have been able to revive 40 second-hand bikes over the summer, some from out of skips, and give them to Manchester asylum seekers who have been attending our regular Monday sessions so they can #ridefree.

“We are all looking forward to a celebratory ride along the Fallowfield loop on 17 October followed by a Spooky kidicalmass ride for families on 30 October. Happy bikes make for happy people and a happy planet.”

Onna Bike

Onna Bike offers free weekly sessions for the local community in Bradford, with the aim of teaching people to ride and improve skills. The club has developed strong links with Belle Vue Girls School and facilitated a project which has resulted in 180 girls undertaking cycle training and reaching Bikeability Levels 1 and 2.

The project enabled 90 girls – at two events – to participate in cycling activities which included Bikeability training, bike maintenance, making smoothies (using a bike to power the motor) and also having a go on cycling rollers provided by the Cycling UK-affiliated Otley Cycle Club.

The project was made possible through funding from Cycling UK, the support of WYCA City Connect and collaboration with a number of organisations, including Zara Sports Centre and Bradford Council’s Bikeability Scheme co-ordinated by Aubrey Cooper.

Welna said: “The pilot was hugely successful, creating a buzz of excitement and resulting in the project being rolled out across all the remaining 800-plus students at the school.

“Onna Bike also established links with OnTrak, receiving 20 refurbished bikes, and was able to donate the bikes at no cost to the girls attending the cycling project.

“That was particularly important given that a vast number of students are unable to buy or access a bike, as they live in a socially deprived area where finances are strained.

“Although the club is in its infancy, it has made a promising start to what should be an amazing journey of discovery and adventure.”

Cycling is becoming very popular in Bradford and for people just starting out, or for those who enjoy cycling at a more leisurely pace, mainstream cycling clubs can seem quite daunting. Onna Bike offers an alternative which appeals to novice and intermediate riders.”

Onna Bike founder Mumtaz Khan

Onna Bike, founded by Mumtaz Khan, runs weekly cycling sessions with fellow cycling coach Andrew Gray, at Zara Sports Centre, next to Belle Vue Girls School, on Saturdays from 6.00-7.15pm, followed by a ride for more confident cyclists.

Mumtaz said: “Cycling is becoming very popular in Bradford and for people just starting out, or for those who enjoy cycling at a more leisurely pace, mainstream cycling clubs can seem quite daunting. Onna Bike offers an alternative which appeals to novice and intermediate riders.”

The Belle Vue girls also attended an informative and humorous presentation by round-the-world cyclist Reece Gledhill. They were then given the task of developing their own expedition, focusing on the countries that they would like to visit – with Dubai, Jamaica, Japan and Australia coming out as hot favourites.

Samantha Crabtree, a member of the Belle Vue Girls School staff, commented: “All of our Year 10 girls have now completed the Level 1 Bikeability Award and the majority the Level 2 Award. The girls have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and with the help of the professional instructors have developed better and safer cycling habits.

“Some of the girls had never ridden a bike before and many do not have the opportunity to cycle, but the course has made them more comfortable and confident in the saddle.

“The opportunity for some of them to then take away a bike at the end of the course has been a great incentive and will hopefully encourage more girls to cycle to school or in their free time.

“Cycling is a great way for the girls to get around, get some exercise and reduce the amount of time spent stuck in a car or on the bus and socialise with their friends.”

Belle Vue Headteacher Mary Copeland said: “It has been a great opportunity for one year to take part in this project – not only learning a skill for now and the future, but also exploring sustainability and environmental issues important to today’s society.”

Whalley Range on Wheels and Onna Bike received their awards at the Cycling UK Members’ Get Together in Manchester on Saturday (8 October). Making the presentation was transport campaigner Caroline Russell, London Assembly Member and national transport spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales.