MORE than 250 people with disabilities and their families have got back in the saddle thanks to free post-lockdown pop-up cycling sessions in parks across the West Midlands, including Coventry.
The £30,000 Parkride Summer Extravaganza run by Midland Mencap and supported by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) was run to encourage people with a variety of disabilities to get active on specially adapted bikes and trikes.
A total of 269 individuals and families took part in weekly sessions held over the summer in Walsall, Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell and Coventry.
Dave Pickard, head of community operations for Midland Mencap said: “We saw whole families book onto the sessions as the project allowed them all to cycle together. One booking included three generations of one family cycling together – from a six-year-old child to a 73 year old grandparent. The project allowed them to use multiple adapted cycles, which they have never used before.
“We are delighted with the results of the Parkride which achieved our main aim to encourage as many people as possible to get active through cycling during the pandemic, with our large range of adapted bicycles – which really does mean there is something for everyone.
“Cycling can be challenging form of travel and exercise, for disabled people, so to be able to start removing that barrier for people has been great. Judging by the feedback we’ve had from people who have taken part in our sessions it’s also ‘wheely’ good fun too!”
Mayor of West Midlands Andy Street said: “The health and environmental benefits of cycling and active travel are clear, and we must do all we can to encourage more people to take to two wheels or two feet. I am therefore delighted that the Parkride Summer Extravaganza has proved so popular and helped to get hundreds of people cycling again.
“Earlier this summer Transport for West Midlands launched both its Roll & Stroll campaign and unveiled the 500-mile Starley Network cycling plan for the region, which shows just how seriously we take active travel and what an important role it has to play in our wider transport plans.”
Jointly run by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Wellbeing team Roll & Stroll aims to encourage more people to get out and about by walking or cycling in an effort to combat lockdown isolation and restrictions.
The ‘behavioural-change’ campaign offers practical support for new cyclists and those returning, as well as safety advice. It included a variety of outdoor events across the region including taster sessions trying out different bikes in local parks, one-to-one introductions to basic cycling skills, bike maintenance, and urban cycling sessions along local cycling routes, including pop-up cycle lanes and canal routes.