Blackhill on Bikes
A project started by a Glasgow church to tackle climate change is helping to give young people independence through learning how to cycle.
The last census showed that more than half of households in Glasgow don’t have access to a car. This figure is even higher in some of the most deprived areas, which also have the least access to public transport and very few local services. For young people in those communities, this can mean feeling isolated and lacking the opportunity to do simple things such as getting to the shops or to football training.
St Paul’s Youth Forum decided to tackle this problem by partnering with local schools and started up Blackhill on Bikes. With funding from the Scottish Government they run Bikeability classes in the local school and teach young people how to repair their bikes themselves. Many local people don’t own their own bikes because of either the cost or the challenge of finding somewhere to store it when they already have a small house. The project has helped to overcome this by refurbishing old bikes and passing these on to families as well as lending bikes for young people to use for a short time.
Glasgow City Council recognised these issues earlier this year when they announced funding to set up a “bike library” scheme in 70 local primary schools. However, the support offered by community-based projects such as Blackhill on Bikes is an essential part of making this work by teaching young people how to ride a bike in the first place.
Christopher Priestley, who is one of the staff for Blackhill on Bikes, explained why learning to cycle can make such a difference in young people’s lives:
'Since we partnered with the school we’ve been able to get involved with the young people and really change their mind-set about what a bike is for. In the past, many had seen a bike as a toy simply to play with on the weekend, but we’ve allowed them to see you can use a bike throughout your life for going to school, going to the shops, seeing friends.'