We're working with Transport for London (TfL) to deliver the Healthy Street Officers programme. As part of this, we’ve been working with Hounslow Council in west London, to open the borough’s first inclusive cycle hub.
Part of Hounslow’s Local Implementation Plan 2019-2041 is to give people who don’t usually cycle the opportunity to have a go and see if they like it, to help them become more active.
The hub is in Inwood Park and there really is a cycle to suit everyone.
It's open to people who live, work or study in Hounslow, but there is potential to set them up in any borough.
Helping people recover from the effects of isolation
Many of the people who have taken part in the inclusive cycle hub have experienced long periods of isolation.
Some have been shielding too and this isolation has caused stress and anxiety.
Crowded spaces and a lack of toilet facilities because of Covid-19 restrictions have also limited their ability to spend time outdoors and get involved in physical activity.
Safe cycling for all abilities
Instructors at Hounslow’s inclusive cycle hub offer its members safe cycling for all abilities.
There’s also a variety of different types of cycles.
Some are side-by-side, others have wheelchair platforms attached to them, and there are tricycles and bicycles too.
Everyone says how much happier and healthier they feel after the sessions.
Tailoring sessions for specific physical and mental health needs
The team at the hub makes sure everyone is safe and physically distanced, and that the sessions are sociable and fun.
They are tailored for adults and children with physical and learning difficulties, and for people who are experiencing poor mental health.
We’ve formed a partnership between the borough and the London-based social enterprise Bikeworks.
This partnership has made it possible to give people who don’t usually have access to adapted cycles the opportunity to try out a variety that suit their needs.
Friends, family and carers benefit too
Additional benefits to the cycling hub are that the members’ friends, family and carers enjoy quality time that’s sociable and outdoors in a safe environment.
The hub also brings a diverse range of people together who want to get active and have a go at cycling.
Benefits of an inclusive cycling hub
The cycle hub has brought a variety of benefits to its members:
- It provides the opportunity for safe, off-road, pleasant exercise to keep fit and healthy.
- With Bikeworks’ talented instructors, the cycling can be as gentle or challenging as required.
- Adapted cycles are available to fulfil a wide range of needs and can be ridden by all ages.
- The instructors will set goals to achieve if participants find this motivational.
Developing the inclusive cycling hub is a fantastic example of a partnership working for the community.
This partnership between Hounslow, Bikeworks, Transport for London and Sustrans has provided the community with training sessions from expert instructors.
It also gives people a place to securely store the bikes and access to a selection of adapted bikes.
Helping with rehabilitation: Nick's story
Writer Nick Cole joined the inclusive cycling hub as soon as it became available.
Here’s what he has to say about what cycling means to him now:
“This inclusive cycling hub is very important to me.
“I had a stroke in 2009. But prior to the stroke, I used to cycle a lot for pleasure and to work every day.
“My weekend cycle rides would be 50km.
“Following the stroke, I resolved to set goals and targets to measure my rehabilitation progress.
“As I was now ‘lopsided’ I could no longer ride a conventional bike, so I investigated tricycles.
“In summer 2016 we went to the Calvert Trust on Exmoor, where I first tried recumbent cycling.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it as it felt safe, stable, and intuitive.
“I decided to buy a recumbent trike of my own when we got home.
“Throughout my journey from hospital bed to regular recumbent road trips, cycling has allowed me to measure my progress and has kept me active.”
Giving children their independence: Caren's story
Caren Tildesley has one nine-year-old son who has autism and one seven-year-old son who is neurotypical.
Being able to try out the tricycles gave her sons some independence, as she explains:
“We wanted to join in on the all-ability cycling because our nine-year-old with learning difficulties struggles with regular bicycles, and his and his sister's cycling lessons were interrupted due to lockdown.
“We really enjoyed the sessions at the inclusive cycling hub.
“My son was immediately able to use the tricycles and get the independence he really longs for.
“His brother was also able to ride, he never gets the opportunity otherwise, as we are unable to ride as a family.
“It is a pursuit that most families take for granted that they can do on a regular basis.
“We’re definitely interested in joining future sessions at the inclusive cycling hub on the excellent quality bikes.
“We would like to get the practice in road safety once the track at Inwood Park has been resurfaced.
“Hopefully my son will finally get to ride his two-wheeler though, as I am not sure we have the capacity to own a trike ourselves!”
Inwood Park All Ability Cycle Hub: One year on
Since its inception, the Hounslow All Ability Hub has had a huge impact on a wide range of Hounslow residents.
It continues to provide a space for inclusive cycling and a network of support.
In 2022, Sustrans ran engagement activities to design and paint a mural on the cycle hub container.
Leading up to this event, users of the hub were interviewed on the impact that the hub has had on them.
Watch the video and read their stories below.
Offering opportunities for progress: Surmeet and her son Jasmehar's story
Jasmehar has Down's syndrome and his mother really wanted him to learn something that was going to increase his physical strength and physical activity whilst also giving him more opportunities for social interaction.
"Looking at his progress in five or six sessions, I'm really proud of him, and thankful as well because if this opportunity had not come I would probably have never taken the initiative myself to start [Jasmehar cycling].
"And because he's doing it and I am seeing the progress, it's going to give me more strength to work on these activities or look for more activities like that so that he can progress and excel in his future as well."
Helping with balance: Tamsin and her daughter Maureen's story
Tamsin shared the story of her daughter Maureen:
"Maureen is on the path to autism diagnosis and during that time it has been a discovery to realise that with her different abilities, balance can be very difficult.
"It has been a journey for us to realise that actually tricycles such as these are so much more beneficial for her.
"It helps to improve her confidence and it really has been great to see her enjoying coming along to the cycle club and to meet with other children of similar abilities as well."
Credits: photojB (video), Soundroll (music)