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Published: 8th MAY 2024

Starting small to make big changes: Katherine’s story

Katherine from Barry, South Wales, learned about Sustrans’ e-bike borrowing project, E-Move, through social media. After contacting the local project officer, she quickly borrowed an e-bike and was soon finding she and her children couldn’t get enough of conquering hills and travelling around on it.

A mother and two young children are riding on a black e-bike in a park. All of them are wearing helmets. There's a mist on the grass in the background

Using an e-bike has helped Katherine to feel confident in cycling around Barry, a notoriously hilly town.

The way cars have an impact on our environment is massive and using an alternative means of transport has always been on my mind.

We, as a family, used our pedal bikes up until we moved to Barry some years ago and the family grew.

I have three young children, with oldest at 10 years old and the youngest at two.

Cycling in Barry can sometimes be challenging because of the hills, and I had to rely on my car or my husband to cycle with the boys before as I couldn’t handle the hills.


My first thoughts and expectations

I didn’t know what to expect from the loan really, but the process was easy.

After finding out about the E-Move project on social media, I showed my interest, got a response, which was followed by the e-bike.

In my head, I was thinking “How am I going to carry the boys, to take them with me as I used to?”

During the handover, I was made to feel at ease with my questions and concerns.

I was amazed when the bike was tailored to my needs, and I was encouraged to try different things to make it work for me.

When Hamish, the project officer, got the two child seats for my youngest kids and explained about the safety of them, I was so grateful.

A mother is securing her two young children into their child seats on the back of a black e-bike, parked in a residential street.

Riding the e-bike with her kids has been a game changer for Katherine.

My first experiences with the e-bike

I followed Hamish’s advice and started easy at first – I had a go on the bike with one of my children to get used to it.

It was scary at first, but some adjustment to the seat and doing it at my pace really helped.

When I went with my two youngest kids and tried the hills, wow, it was wicked!

I felt I could conquer anywhere now!

It’s also given me assurance on thoughts regarding our impact on the planet.

Riding a bike nowadays makes more sense, not only from the environmental point of view.

It also reduces commuting times, it generates less traffic, and – best of all – I get to do exercise, which my body was craving for years.

After riding, I feel ready for the day and it gives me a different perspective and overall feeling.

From the children’s point of view, they get exposure to fresh air, hear the birds, and get to interact with the outside on our rides.

They experience different senses and learn too, they’re generally more alert and aware, and they even get to greet the lollipop lady or greet the recycling workers!

My 10-year-old loves it too, she says it’s cool, and at night I’ve noticed they all sleep better after having been out on the e-bike.

For us as a family, the bike has had a positive impact and cost-wise, we’re not spending as much on fuel anymore.

Two young children sat in child seats on the back of a black e-bike, both wearing helmets, which is parked in Porthkerry Park.

Aside from the benefits Katherine’s felt from using the e-bike, her kids are enjoying the fresh air, connecting with their environment, and meeting people along the way.

Things that I’ve learned from changing our travel habits

I’m a believer that one needs to start small to make a difference, like starting with a small change.

When you do that, it’ll have an effect on others because you’re leading by example.

I’ve learnt that it’s possible to make a change for a more environmentally friendly option for travelling by using an e-bike.

I’ve also learnt that the e-bike is so versatile that it allows you to do so much with them – they’re inclusive and a great alternative if you also want to keep healthy along the way.

It’s much easier to ride an electric bike and make it possible to ride up the hills in Barry, even with the children on the back.

Using the e-bike has meant we’ve discovered new areas of the town we live in that we didn’t know before.

We’ve come across barriers, which affect people with mobility issues or big e-bikes like the one I borrowed, but that has never stopped us exploring.

Finally, it’s much quicker to travel on the bike in rush hour than it is to use the car.


How I’ve used the e-bike and what the future holds

The bike has become part of my everyday routine.

I started using the e-bike first with one of the children, then with the two youngest, and also the two oldest.

Since then, I don’t just do the drop offs at school for my children, but I do the drop off to nursery, I take them to swimming lessons, go shopping, and use it for my own exercise.

As a family, we’ve used the e-bike for leisure, to go for rides and explore our local area.

We’re now planning to buy an e-bike, and with what we’re saving in fuel we can use that toward part of the payment for our first e-bike.

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