Tracy's tribe are loving learning to ride

Cycling UK continues to support the UK to cycle
This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19
Tracy Pater and her two children prepare for a ride
A woman and a boy and a girl pose with bicycles outside on a sunny day
A woman and a boy and a girl pose with bicycles outside on a sunny day
Rich Wevill's picture

Tracy's tribe are loving learning to ride

The Big Bike Revival for Key Workers has allowed this Birmingham family to cycle together

Tracy Pater has supported many people in Birmingham to take part in led bike rides through her work at the Ashiana Community Project, in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, over the last few years.

Now during lockdown, she’s been turning her attention closer to home and getting her two children pedalling – thanks to the Big Bike Revival for Key Workers scheme.

The Ashiana Community Cycle Club was until this March, providing a safe and welcoming place for members of the local community, particularly women, to come and learn to ride a bicycle. Many of them had never had the opportunity before, or faced obstacles to doing so. 

It is all quite different from the Netherlands, where Tracy lived previously and where many more trips are taken by cycle each day. She explains: "I lived in the Netherlands from 2005 for seven years until I came to the UK, when I found the roads were not as good for cycling and pretty soon my bike became worn out.”

That’s where the Big Bike Revival for Key Workers project was able to step in and provide Tracy, 33, her son Elijah, 7, and daughter Aliyah, 5, with new bikes.

The lessons began immediately in the family’s garden at home and then the cul-de-sac where they live. “I was surprised by my son: he started cycling straight away. I asked him if he had borrowed a bike from his friends before because he seemed to already know what to do and how to balance, but I think he had just watched the other guys and taken it on board. My daughter was not so natural, she was a little scared and looked down at her pedals a lot. She just needs a bit more space and time to keep progressing.”

“Cycling has been a big part of my life. I learnt to ride when I was three or four years old, so I wanted my children to learn to cycle too, but this is the first real opportunity we have had.”

She says she believes Elijah will be ready to ride to school when classes are expected to resume for all in September. Cycling UK has produced a guide for those thinking about making a switch to bikes for the school run, with help and advice for parents and schools.

In the Netherlands, where Tracy previously lived, many more children and young people cycle to their place of education. There are protected cycle paths beside roads, and no dedicated school bus system.

When we started lockdown I began seeing all my neighbours going out on bikes I didn’t even know they had, and I really wanted to join them. I was missing cycling so much

Tracy Pater, ACP Birmingham

In February last year, Tracy moved to a leafier area, where Selly Oak borders Bournville, and she could see the potential to enjoy more cycling in quieter surroundings. “When we started lockdown I began seeing all my neighbours going out on bikes I didn’t even know they had, and I really wanted to join them. I was missing cycling so much, then I heard about the Big Bike Revival Project and how we could be eligible.

“On the day the children got their new bikes they were very excited – the whole day was all about cycling. It is great that they can do something active because we were spending a lot of time indoors. Exercise has become more fun: if I mention we are going somewhere now, the first question is usually 'Can we go on our bikes?’.

Tracy works full time at the Ashiana Community Project as a senior support worker and engagement officer and is also secretary of the ACP Cycling Club, which is a Cycling UK affiliated group.  

 

If you would like to make your children’s cycle to school safer, then take part in Cycling UK’s campaign calling for councils to introduce simple and quick measures, such as pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements or turn areas outside schools into pedestrian or cycling zones which will make cycling to school an option for local families. 

Take action: Write to your council to ask for space to cycle to school

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