One of the areas of the Green Zone funding bid was to introduce different workshops and activities based around cycling and bike maintenance. This was an entirely new project to the estate.
The importance of sustainable transport to reduce the use of carbon emissions and fossil fuel use was only part of the reason for these activities. There were the additional goals of increasing confidence, reducing isolation, increasing empowerment and working together with other members of the community.
We wanted to try to build on some of the community bike activities that were already happening on the estate on an informal level. One of the residents had a scheme to “recycle the cycles‟ which he ran from one of the rooms in his flat. People would donate abandoned or broken bicycles and be able to get fixed bikes in return at low cost. We
wanted the scheme to build on his work and to give him access to more tools and support if he or others on the estate wanted to take this further.
We approached a few different groups to see if what activities they could offer. In the end we chose a new initiative, Pedal MCR,
who had links with existing activities that residents of the Estate were involved in, including a monthly bike ride around Manchester.
They agreed to:
- Run regular drop-in bike maintenance workshops called DIT bike workshops – “Do it Together‟.
- Create a tool resource: Source and buy a resource of tools that could be kept in a communal store cupboard on the estate and used by the community.
- Cycle Training: how to ride a bike, building confidence to ride on the road and also commuter training, tackling busier junctions and roundabouts in one-to-one sessions or in small group sessions.
- Women only bike maintenance class.
- Community Bike Ride; A monthly bike ride on the last Friday of each month, meeting at 5pm (or 4.30pm for a bike check). The ride helps to increase confidence and also enable people to meet other cyclists in their community. The ride joins with a larger Critical Mass ride in the city centre after 6pm.
Pedal MCR designed a flyer to publicise all of these elements and it was put through the door of everyone on the estate. Although the flyer mentioned that the project was part of the Green Zone, there was a way of contacting the trainers from Pedal MCR directly.
The work was carried out with positive feedback and a strong desire to continue. There are also plans carry out a community audit to discover what bicycle education the residents feel is needed. Pedal MCR have also offered the following schemes:
- Earn A Bike: People volunteering their time in the workshop will be able to use their volunteering hours to “pay” for a bicycle or parts.
- Women-only bicycle maintenance and cycle training sessions to give women the skills and confidence they need to incorporate cycling into their lives.
- Heath and social bike rides which can help mental and physical health.
- 3 hour “Bike Basics‟ courses; Participants learn how to check that their bike is safe to ride, identify most common problems, repair punctures and replace a thrown chain.