A MAN who has a learning disability and had never ridden a bike has started cycling thanks to a scheme run by Midland Mencap and funded by the West Midlands Emergency Active Travel Fund.
In July, Tom Kirby aged 29, signed up for the Parkride Extravaganza scheme which was designed to encourage people of all abilities to be more active during the pandemic.
As a result of taking part he learnt to cycle, and his confidence was boosted so much that he bought an e-trike.
Speaking on International Day of Disabled People, December 3, Tom said: “I started the scheme at Cannon Hill park in July where I was shown how a bike works and how to set the right height. I tried a few bikes before I found one that was right for me.
“I didn’t think I would be able to cycle; I’m learning something completely new and it’s helping me feel a new way of being independent. It might be scary at first, but it’s an enjoyable challenge and I’m outside in the fresh air!”
The scheme Tom benefitted from was part of this summer’s Roll and Stroll campaign which was delivered jointly by the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Wellbeing team, whose Include Me initiative provided support and guidance, and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA.
In addition, TfWM has worked closely with local authorities to link their local cycling routes and plans into the region wide Starley Network.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “If we’re going to cut car emissions as part of our plan to become a carbon zero region, it means improving other travel options such as the Metro expansion, our plans for new stations, more electric buses – and cycling.
“Tom’s example shows the benefits that can be achieved if we continue to provide everyone across the West Midlands with more safe cycling opportunities.”
A total of 269 families and individuals took part in this year’s Parkride Summer Extravaganza.
Weekly pop up cycling sessions were held across the region, including Solihull and Coventry.