Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cycling Club Helping Homeless Women Regain Independence

I am always on the lookout for great model programs that tap the freedom of bicycling to help people who are struggling. This recent article from the Guardian caught my eye because the cycling club it spotlights focuses on the dignity that cycling can bring to those caught in homelessness. This cycling club in London shows its women members that they no longer need to be identified as homeless. They are strong, independent people who can transport themselves wherever they choose. The article starts off with this:

A cycling session at Queen Mary homeless women’s hostel in London starts with some reflection in the tea room. Eleven women discuss how they’re doing this week, how the cycling went for them last week and what they’re hoping to build on in today’s session. Then they push their bikes to a local basketball court to practise in the safety of an off-road environment. Supported by instructors from Westminster council’s training team, they practise riding by themselves; pushing off, cycling in a straight line, looking over one shoulder, turning, keeping going.

Small achievements are important and depend on the starting point of each woman; for some, keeping going is a key goal to address physical fitness, for others it is balance or specific cycling skills. They are all working towards Bikeability Level 1 which enables them to control a bike safely enough to progress on to quiet roads, making turns and negotiating traffic. In some sessions the women learn about map-reading and planning journeys, pumping up tyres and other basic maintenance. Read more here.

Enjoy the article and consider how your bicycle programs could be adapted to welcome homeless people.