Schemes to get more people cycling for leisure and work have been a huge success following a series of campaigns delivered by the Let’s Go Tees Valley Active Travel team.
One such scheme, Wheel Women, consists of a series of women-only, entry level bike rides around the Tees Valley, to give women the chance to cycle at a gentle pace with others who are getting back in the saddle.
Let’s Go Tees Valley, funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority have further expanded the scheme to provide mixed gender and family fun bike rides across the region. A new Walking & Cycling Route Network downloadable map also allows anyone to plan their own rides out across the Tees Valley.
The Wheel Women and family rides are led by a qualified instructor, who reassures nervous riders and ensures the pace is appropriate for the group. Supporting the campaign are two local Instagram influencers who have taken part in some of the events and have shared their experiences online to encourage others to participate.
The group’s success has quickly led to the establishment of a Facebook group to build an online community of women who are just starting their cycling journey. People arrange to meet up, seek advice and support each other. The online forum provides information with about downloadable maps, route planning, bike MOTs, maintenance advice, free cycle training and inspirational stories of women who cycle.
More than 250 women have joined the Facebook group to date with over 20,000 people engaging over social media.
Nikki Jones one of the participants said: “I’ve only been on a few rides, but thoroughly loved them, I gained lots of confidence, Kevin was fantastic at giving tips about how to use gears and take corners correctly without making me feel like a complete idiot, I didn’t even know the routes we did existed even though I have lived in the area all my life.”
Jen Robinson, participant and influencer added: “Lacking confidence when getting back out on the bike was holding me back. Taking part in the Wheel Women campaign gave me that back and more. Each step was the extra boost I needed and I’ve made a couple of friends, bike buddies through this.
“It’s now something I want to get the family fully involved with and hoping to get on some of the family group rides.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s fantastic to see such innovative and what appear simple initiatives get off the ground so quickly and reap such success.
“The Let’s Go Tees Valley team have helped create a fantastic cycling community, one that is inspiring families to cycle who were previously nervous and lacked confidence, or who were maybe anxious about meeting others.
“We’re investing heavily through our Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan to ensure that people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool can use high-quality pathways and links for leisure as well as access employment, training or other essential services across our region.”
To find out more information on the schemes, how families can get involved as well as to download the Tees Valley Walking & Cycling Route Network Map please visit www.letsgoteesvalley.co.uk/ways-to-travel/cycle/