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Supporting people to get on their bike in Sussex

Lucy Chadburn from Sustrans, s,iling on the left wearing a yellow Sustrans branded coat and Luke Anderson, from British Cycling, smiling on the right wearing a British Cycling branded blue coat
Lucy Chadburn from Sustrans, and Luke Anderson, from British Cycling

Get fit, reduce our carbon footprint, and boost our economy - why we should promote active travel in Sussex

Following on from the Active Sussex Network event in September and David Gent’s inspiring keynote speech, the team at Active Sussex were keen to learn more about how we can help support active travel and improve our environment.

With this in mind, we welcomed Luke Anderson, Regional manager (South East) at British Cycling, and Lucy Chadburn, Project Manager: Behaviour Change and Engagement (South) at Sustrans, to the office this week.

The idea behind the session was to learn more about these two organisations, the projects they run nationally and in the local area, and how we – as an Active Partnership – can help support them.

British Cycling is the NGB for the sport of cycling in England. Their new strategy, Lead our sport; Inspire our communities, published in 2021 has seven priorities:

  • Cycling for everyone
  • Work together
  • Flagship events
  • Engage the next generation
  • Grow communities
  • Inspiring performances
  • Equipped for success

The British Cycling Our Ride strategy is an equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and aims to remove the perception that cycling is a sport for ‘wealthy middle-aged men’.

Riding bicycles improves health and fitness, the environment and mental health whilst at the same time can help fight congestion and childhood inactivity and improve air quality. Yet only 2 per cent of journeys in the country are made by bike (compared to approximately 40 per cent in the Netherlands). The main barriers to riding a bike include: driver behaviour, cycling confidence, only 49 per cent of people owning a bike, and 30 per cent of children unable to ride a bike. 

Some British Cycling programmes:

  • Go Ride for Schools – introduce cycling to physical education provision.
  • Breeze – women only bike rides
  • Guided rides – free and friendly local rides, led by knowledgeable Ride Leaders.
  • Pedal Party – think park run but on your bike

British cycling has also produced free online training around learning to ride (Ready Set Ride) and how to commute safely (Commute Smart).

Sustrans are the charity making it easier for people to walk, cycle and wheel. They are custodians of the National Cycle Network which, in addition to riding a bike, can also be used as traffic-free paths for walking, running, wheeling, scooting etc. They also support the development of active travel policy and guidance.

They supported the recent School Streets projects in Sussex (closing roads outside of schools during drop-off/pick-up times) and still have Bike-It officers in Brighton and Crawley.

Some local Sustrans programmes include:

  • Girls bike projects – encouraging girls to try cycling
  • Air quality – Sussex wide schools project to encourage cycling/walking through studying air quality
  • Fix bike – building bikes and bike repairs with targeted CYP (5 ways to wellbeing focus)
  • Bike loans for refugees
  • Bike It Wild – connecting CYP from less affluent locations with local green spaces by cycling

After the session, Lucy said:

Active travel has a crucial role to play in reducing our transport emissions, improving our health and boosting our economy.

“It’s been great to join the Active Sussex team this week, along with British Cycling, to explore ways in which we can make it easier for people to walk and cycle!”

Luke said: “I’m excited to offer my support to Active Sussex to help build a better understanding of the wider cycling landscape and how it fits with active travel. 

“Working together with other organisations like Sustrans, I believe we can help to share our knowledge of cycling activity in Sussex which creates opportunities to ride and to volunteer.  

“This will mean we are better placed to connect pathways and build in more diversity to the cycling offer, so that tomorrow’s riders find it even easier to get on their bikes and find something for them to enjoy.”

Other things we learnt during the session included:

The Bike Train in Brighton is a local group promoting safety in numbers and ride to events such as BHAFC home matches and Lewes bonfire.

Webinars on walking buses and cycling buses can be used to support schools concerned about safety when it comes to promoting active travel.

U3a may be able to support older people who want to return to cycling: https://www.u3a.org.uk/learning/subjects/cycling-social

With British cycling focusing on more opportunities for disabled people we are keen to promote Wheels for Wellbeing (WfW) – an award-winning charity supporting disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling: https://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/ – and other accessible cycling opportunities across the county and find out what else is out there.

#funfact – “People riding bikes” should be used instead of the word “cycling” which has been found to instantly put people off.

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