A Wolverhampton community group is helping local people discover the fun of cycling after setting up its own cycling hub using a Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) funding grant.
The Park Village Education Centre in Low Hill used its Better Streets Community Fund grant to create secure cycle storage and workshop facility, cycle parking and a safe training area. And it is working with the Whirling Wheels Cycle Training to offer lessons and bike maintenance services to help local people get out and about on two wheels.
Park Village Education Centres' Dr Yusuf Shafi said: “We used the funding to purchase two 20ft containers for cycle storage and repair and set up a secure cycle shelter for Centre users and locals.
“In partnership with Whirling Wheels we were then able to engage 86 young people and 37 adults in a variety of cycling training, cycle repair and safety training sessions. It has been an absolute pleasure and delight to see so many people getting on their bikes and realising the fun of cycling.”
The hub covers an area with a rich and diverse community and high levels of social deprivation and has not only promoted healthy activity but also provided emotional and social support during lockdown.
The £2 million Better Streets Community Fund was set up for groups and organisations to apply for funding for small scale active travel infrastructure such as bike racks, cycle clubs or safe road crossings.
The group was among 34 projects throughout the region to benefit from grants of between £10,000 and £250,000 for projects to improve cycling and walking in their areas.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who launched the Better Streets Community Fund in 2019, said: “These community led projects can make a real difference to people, particularly children, by giving them a lifelong love of cycling.
“Encouraging more people to cycle and walk, especially for those shorter journeys, is a key part of our plans to reduce traffic congestion and improve our environment and health.
“That is why we have put unprecedented investment into active travel, including our region wide Starley Network of safe cycle routes and our new West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme rolling out across the region from next month.”
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is currently investing £40 million, including £23 million from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund and £14 million from the Active Travel Fund, into cycling and walking infrastructure.
Encouraging more people to cycle and walk for shorter journeys can play a part achieving the #WM2041 target of becoming net zero carbon region over the next 20 years.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “These community led projects, such as pedestrian crossings, better cycle paths and bike training can make a real difference to a neighbourhood by giving people the confidence to walk and cycle and make streets safer for children.
“As well as backing these smaller projects we are also investing in larger cycle routes and a region wide cycle hire scheme because getting more people to cycle, either for their commute or leisure is healthy and good for our environment.”