“Free bikes, free tuition and free fun!” – Sheffield’s Pedal Ready bikeability scheme
We spoke to Jeff, trainer and administrator, at Pedal Ready, about the fabulous bikeability scheme. He shared with us information about the programme and stories of some of Sheffield’s over 50s who have benefited from the scheme.
Pedal Ready is a bikeability scheme offering free training across Sheffield. They also provide bikes for those taking part who don’t own one. The programme offers a variety of courses including:
- ‘Learn to Ride’ for those riding a bike for the first time
- ‘Cycle Confidence’ designed to help new cyclists become confident on quiet local roads
- ‘Road Confidence’ – training people to start accessing complex cycling routes
- ‘Bike Buddy’ – a trainer accompanies participants on routes they often take to find safer routes
- ‘Electric Bike Training’ – training people how to ride an e-bike
We spoke to Jeff who is one of Pedal Ready’s 12 trainers about the programme:
I first got involved teaching cycling proficiency in the 90s when I lived in Rotherham, and the school where my eldest son was going asked if there were any parents who could give some cycling proficiency lessons.
Pedal Ready was set up about 14 years ago and I’ve been there about 12 years. It was set up to teach kids cycling proficiency at schools as, up until recently, funding for cycling proficiency was probably about 90% kids and 10% adults. Whereas now, it’s shifted and the fund mainly covers adult training. We work with a variety of adults, young people and families – I’ve had one or two people arrive with their grandchildren as they want to learn as well!”
Due to the pandemic, we stopped the service in April and May and then started tentatively in June and now we’re virtually back to normal numbers. We train in parks all over the place: Abbeyfield Park, Endcliff Park, Hilsborough Park, Stephenson Hall and a couple in Rotherham and Doncaster too.”
Jeff shared some brilliant Pedal Ready stories of people who have taken their courses at a later age…
Frank got back on a bike with Pedal Ready Cycle Co-op in February 2018. He had not cycled for 50 years. After starting with a Cycle Confidence course in Endcliffe Park, he moved onto all three levels of Road Confidence courses and bought and now rides his own bike!
“Cycling has helped me maintain my weight loss – it’s fantastic!”
I suffered bad health, diabetes and high blood pressure and I had recently lost lots of weight – 4.5 stone, through changing my diet. This meant that I came off insulin and my doctor (a cyclist) suggested that I did more exercise. When I was dieting, I was overmedicated and was feeling quite ill. Cycling has helped me maintain my weight loss – it’s fantastic!
I saw the Pedal Ready cycling sessions advertised in the Sheffield Telegraph and looked on the internet. I didn’t own a bike at the time and because bikes were available free to those taking part, I thought I’d give it a try. When I started in February 2018, I had not ridden since I was 12 years old.
Because of my cycling my doctor is very pleased with me and has reduced my blood pressure medication. I’m physically much fitter, I’ve met some nice people who I know cycle with. A group of previous participants in Cycle Confidence at Endcliffe Park now all have their own bikes and ride together most Tuesdays, meeting the current course members at the café afterwards – now a larger group called The Chain Gang.
Diane made the decision at the age of 60 that she wanted to learn how to ride a bike and advises everyone and anyone to do the same.
“Free bikes, free tuition, and free fun! What’s not to love?”
14th February 2020 and a tired windswept, scruffy but very happy lady of a certain age (oh go on then, 60) has just completed the High Peak Trail – 35 miles no less! Turn the clock back to Spring 2019, and I arrive in Clifton Park with nerves and excitement in equal measure for my first ever cycling lesson. Saddle lowered and pedals removed, hey presto – a balance bike, all courtesy of Pedal Ready. Totally free tuition, bikes provided, from kids to O.A.Ps in Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield. Several balance bike lessons later and Rodger, my Pedal Ready instructor, and pal tells me that I am ready for a proper bike, i.e. pedals replaced.
I could go on forever about the amount of fun learning to ride a bike has been, not to mention my fitness. So whether you’re wishing to take up cycling for the first time or starting over after a long absence, don’t wait 60 years like me! It’s never too soon or too late to contact Pedal Ready.
Purveen started cycling when she was in her 50s after seeing a poster advertising Pedal Ready and after seeing that there were people taking the course who were older than her, she rang up and booked her first session.
“I’ve become a different person”
From the start the trainers were very encouraging! I kept losing my balance, but before long I was weaving in and out of cones. I did learn as a child but my parents couldn’t afford to get me a bike.
I soon moved onto the cycle confidence sessions in Endcliffe Park and got used to the gears. I was overjoyed with myself and really looked forward to the next sessions. Others on the course were encouraging and I made friends and I started riding with the Porter Valley Tour de Force women’s cycling group.
Someone told me about the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) rides. I found the first ride very hard, but I’ve been riding with the CTC for a year now and in December 2018 I won a trophy for the best newcomer!
It’s wonderful – it’s a passion and it’s good for me mentally. I feel better after a bike ride. It’s easier and quicker than walking and in the countryside you see so much more if you don’t use a car. I feel intrepid and like I’m flying – it’s the next best thing to having wings.
I feel energized and I feel like a different person. My family think I’ve had a mid-life crisis! I was suffering from lack of confidence, low mood and depression; I’ve become a different person. Being out in the air is fantastic – I would like to do more. It’s a new lease of life for me. I’ve hugely improved. It’s a friendly community.
I do my local shopping on my bike and a lot of Asian people approach me and ask me questions – they need encouragement. I can get to places quicker as I can get through traffic. I have a son with special needs and when he’s in hospital I can get there quickly on my bike.”
Contact Pedal Ready:
Where: Abbeyfield Park, Endcliff Park, Hilsborough Park, Stephenson Hall
Contact: 07772 374 759, firstname.lastname@example.org