Cycling in a new city can be exciting and thrilling, with many new places to explore. But sometimes it can feel daunting even knowing where to start.
This is where our volunteer Bike Buddies programme provides invaluable support to refugees who’ve received a bike from us. Our team of brilliant volunteers meet up with a refugee cyclist in their local area and enjoy a ride together. Since its launch in 2018 we’ve made over 150 Bike Buddies matches. Each Bike Buddies match is unique – of course! Jack and Saad have enjoyed a few rides together, as one of these matches.
Saad received his bike from us in June 2019 and when he found out about the Bike Buddies programme, was immediately interested in taking part. He said:
“I wanted to experience it and found it interesting. With a volunteer, I can discover places calmly and it gives you vitality when riding a bike.”
Bike Buddies volunteer, Jack, was equally as excited to take part:
“I found out about The Bike Project through Twitter, and I applied to the Bike Buddies scheme after seeing a particular tweet about there being a small number of places left on the training day. After a great day of training with other volunteers, I was hugely excited to get started and meet my first bike buddy.”
After planning their ride, Jack and Saad met at Parsons Green Tube Station and cycled into Central London via Hyde Park to visit some key landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall on their ride.
“Cycling is a great way to see London. It’s good for the environment and gives light sport for your body.”
At the end of an energetic day exploring London, both Jack and Saad were keen to arrange their next ride and agreed to meet the following weekend.
Saad fondly recalls their second ride to Regents Park as his favourite ride saying:
“Regent’s Park is beautiful, it’s really big and there are lots of places to explore.”
Jack and Saad went on to meet a total of four times throughout the summer, exploring new areas of London whilst building Saad’s confidence to navigate the city by bike.
Before cycling with Jack, Saad said that he had found navigating traffic particularly difficult when cycling in London. After their rides together Saad said he felt more confident and found it easier to cycle on busy roads.
Reflecting on the experience Jack felt that he had also learned a lot saying:
‘’I have hugely enjoyed my experiences as a Bike Buddy with Saad. We’ve had some super interesting discussions, as well as exploring new parts of London together by bike. Having grown up in London, sometimes you forget just how much there is to see and do, so seeing it through someone elses eyes has been a lovely experience.”
Despite the end of Summer and the increasingly wintery weather, Jack and Saad are still in regular contact and plan to continue to meet over the coming weeks and months.
When asked if he would recommend Bike Buddies to others, Saad responded with a big smile across his face.
The Bike Project opened our second site in the West Midlands last year and are excited to announce that we are now looking for Bike Buddies in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry and beyond for 2020. The dates for the induction sessions are the evenings of 18th & 25th February at our site in Balsall Heath, if you wish to learn more about Bike Buddies and to apply please click below.