cycling Archives - The Bike Project

9 Top Cycling Tips for Newbies

New to cycling? Just getting back on the bike after a bit of a hiatus? Getting back into cycling may be like, well, riding a bike, but getting a refresher is always good.

Here are our Claire’s top tips for staying safe and confident on your two-wheeler.

  1. Take up space in the road: make yourself big! Being assertive and being seen is one of the most important things to remember on the road.
  2. Make sure you don’t cycle in the gutter; it’s got the most debris in it which leads to more visits from the puncture fairy, is has the worst road surface, and the highest risk of collision with pedestrians who step out into the road while updating their Facebook status.
  3. Leave a car door’s width, plus a little bit when cycling past parked or otherwise stationary cars. Remember the rhyme “a car door and a little bit more.”
  4. Avoid going down the left hand side of vehicles, especially big ones like lorries. Manoeuvres like this cause many accidents and, sadly, deaths – lorries have more blind spots than you can imagine so err on the side of caution.
  5. If you’re in a traffic jam and you’re filtering, make sure you have enough time to do it safely before the lights change.
  6. If you’re in a traffic jam and you’re not filtering, pretend you’re a car and sit in the middle of the lane so no one can squish you into the curb when the traffic starts moving.
  7. If you’re feeling wobbly or nervous don’t be afraid to get off and push!
  8. TFL offer free cycle training for all people – from families, those new to cycling to old hands wanting some assertiveness and advanced tips. Find it all here.
  9. LCC run a great mix of family friendly and more experienced/fast rider group rides, as well as listing free Dr Bikes and other cycling events. Find out more here.

Under the Olympic Flag

It’s not just countries that take part in the Olympics.

The games have a long tradition of politically uncertain groups participating ‘under the Olympic flag’ – newly independent countries which haven’t had time to set up a formal team, nationals of states under UN sanctions, and others.

But in Rio 2016, for the first time, there is a second group competing under the Olympic flag: the inaugural Refugee Olympic Team.

In June, organisers of the games announced that, to “act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis”, ten refugees would be nominated by the UN, get trained by their countries of residence, and take part, marching in the opening ceremony ahead of the host nation Brazil.

One Ethiopian, two Congolese, two Syrians and five South Sudanese are out there right now, competing – in swimming, judo and athletics.

These ten refugees, representatives of millions of refugees worldwide, were selected for their sporting abilities. The opportunity that they and the 33 others on the shortlist have had – to train in top athletic facilities around the world and tell their stories to the world at the Olympics – is extraordinary.

The opportunity to fulfill their potential is life changing for any refugee. And, as in the Olympics, The Bike Project believes being physically active can help achieve this potential – in our case by cycling to a more independent, fulfilling life.

Because the bicycles and cycling classes we deliver are life-changing. With them, refugees living in London form part of a community, can travel cheaply and effectively to legal appointments for their asylum case, to college and to friends, and gain new skills to help them settle in to their new homes.

The Refugee Olympic Team is the big picture happening in Brazil.

The Bike Project is the hands-on, oil and grease work happening on the streets of London.

If you’d like to be a part of it, we’d love you to donate a bike, sponsor a bike or donate your time.

Nadia: How she took to the road

Nadia

“Cycling can do lots of stuff for you.”

That’s The Bike Project in a nutshell, but also Nadia’s story.

Nadia came to this country from India as an asylum seeker in 2009, but last summer, something new came into her life when a refugee centre in Snaresbrook advertised a cycling course for women.

Over six months, Nadia and other refugee women from around the world met regularly to learn how to become more mobile. “At first we would take the bikes to a small park, in the basketball court. We learned brakes and gears, and signals, and the things to check for safety before getting on.”

Some of the group, including Nadia, had cycled before in their home countries, but this gave them new challenges because the rules of the road are so different from place to place.

“I was really a bit scared of roundabouts: who is allowed to go first, what the lines mean… But everyone was very patient and supported me, and now whenever I go out, even without the bike, I pay more attention and look at how the road works.

“The instructors were lovely and helped each person focus on what they needed help with.”

The learners got more confident. “We decided to go on a short ride. Then we went on longer rides. I felt very safe, and the weather was good. It makes you happy! I feel more fresh and energetic after cycling.

“And it saves travel fares, which are always so difficult if you are on benefits and have to buy groceries as well.”

Most of the women had such a good time that they kept in touch with each other after the course ended. Some went on to another course about how to maintain their bicycles – “Women Fix it” run by Otesha. And Nadia’s instructors even found her a cycling mentor near her home in East London who could continue to support her and help her build up local knowledge.

Nadia’s final message? “I really wanted to do this interview. I got so much out of The Bike Project, I would want to help in any way I can.”

Names have been changed.
Herne Hille Velodrome

A Sun Chaser’s To Do List

When the sun puts his hat on, we put our cycle helmets on. Here are our favourite places to get pedalling at when the weather’s fine.

Prudential Ride London
The huge London cycling festival, roads will be closed on the weekend of the 30th and 31st July so you can see all of the sights of London by bike. That’s just one of many events you can take part in, so have a look at what other adventures you can have on that weekend.

Lee Valley VeloPark
Remember that thing a few years ago? With all the sports and medals? It was easy to miss, so you may not have noticed this stonking great velodrome in Queen Elizabeth Park, built especially for the 2012 London Olympics. There’s a BMX course, mountain bike trail and road track, too.

Herne Hill Velodrome
The only venue still in use from the 1948 Olympic Games, you can have a go on the track whether you’re a beginner or an expert. They also have lots of sessions for kids of all ages.

Banana Bike Hire
Make your way to Dulwich or Battersea Park and hire a banana to cycle on. They’re a type of recumbent bike (the low down, sit back ones) and a great way to see the parks. You can hire tandems, trikes and other things that wouldn’t look amiss in wacky races.

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Remember all profits go towards keeping refugees cycling!

Jem and Silla

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