Inclusive cycling round the neighbourhood event held in Harlow

Health / Sat 23rd Sep 2023 at 12:46pm

HOT on the heels of the Tour of Britain event, the ICAN (Inclusive Cycling Around the Neighbourhood) Project was officially rolled out on Sunday 10 September at the EXL Driving School in Harlow by Roots to Wellbeing CIC.

The event was an opportunity for adults and children to try different types of bicycles in a safe space, away from traffic and other distractions.

KMX recumbent trikes, upright trikes, a handcycle, a tandem and a two-seater eTrike were ridden consistently throughout the sweltering heat of the day by adults and children, some of whom are neurodiverse and/or find it difficult to use their co-ordination/motor skills and balance. Adults and children were encouraged to ride the bikes around the circuit while other adults booked themselves on led rides and rides to increase their confidence by Bikeability instructors Lisa and Ethan.

Dave Wales, Harlow Cycling Club Chair and Chief Mechanic of the Harlow Cycle Recycle Project brought along his uni-cycle and offered bike checks and general advice with other members of the club assisting him. Henry Fung, a volunteer, from St John’s Ambulance Responder Unit was keeping one eye on the brave (or some may say fool hardy) people wanting to test their skills on the unicycle whilst telling others about the work that the responders do at large events such as the London Marathon.

Tara Whittle, Director of Roots to wellbeing CIC, who is a trained occupational therapist and SEN adviser told YH, “We do not have access to all of these types of bikes in Harlow at the moment so this is why it was important that I have seen for myself which types of bikes are the most popular and we can start to look at ways of acquiring them for use actually in Harlow.

“The bikes that have been brought here today are expensive and inaccessible physically and financially for most families and we are extremely grateful to ActiveEssex for giving us some funding for this event. I know of one mother who takes her adult son to Basildon for him to ride but not everyone has access to the type of often complex transportation required to get over there. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to see such a diverse range of people from the very young (aged 4) right up to adults enjoying a wide range of bikes. One child was riding different bikes for the whole 4 hours whereas normally he has difficultly exercising due to the effects of having ADHD.”

Yasmin Gregory, a long time cycling advocate within the Harlow community who has been working on the ICAN project with Tara said, “I would like to see people from Harlow and the surrounding villages have access to these types of bikes and to have the opportunity to exercise in a safe space. The work that Tara and her volunteers have done so far with little to no funding to provide bikes has been monumental. We just need to be able to have access to this type of equipment in Harlow for more people to have experiences like today on a regular basis.”

“It’s ironic that we have over 39 miles of cycle paths in Harlow yet there are groups of people who are unable to use them for a number of reasons. People have approached Tara and Dave saying that they are now ready to take their next cycling steps and are being invited on organised rides or being signposted to other groups in the area.”

ICAN is a project that encourages inclusive cycling for adults and children. The Harlow Cycle Recycle project has provided bikes and accessories to over 70 people in Harlow in the past year. Donated bikes are serviced to ensure they are safe and where possible this includes new accessories such as helmet, lights and locks before being donated back into the community for children and adults.

If any local companies would like to become involved any of the Roots to Wellbeing projects as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, please email [email protected] or [email protected] for further information.

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