A non-profit community organisation is petitioning Bradford City Council to allow them to keep using the bike storage in Lister Park, Manningham.
Hop-on was created by three women, Fozia Naseem, Shahida Kishver, and Najma Khan in 2016 that provides vital support in Bradford, working on improving physical and mental health through activities such as cycling, walking, yoga, and coaching tailored to each individual.
The social enterprise boasts a membership of over 3000 people and delivers cycling sessions to 600 people per month. Most of the cyclists are women and children from a South Asian background, which they say is a “community in which cycling is the exception, rather than the norm”.
With Covid-19 easing over the last nine months, an additional 1000 women have signed up to the group.
The cycling sessions are held at Lister Park, with 80 bikes being stored in one of the three storage containers on-site to ensure easy access for the service users.
*The enterprise is at risk of losing the storage container on 14 December as it is needed back by Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure for storage of their additional bikes from another location. Hop On are asking the council for additional storage so that they can continue their valuable service to the community.
Hop-on has created an online petition in the hope that it would convince the Council to provide additional storage.
The qualified sports instructor said back in June the enterprise was told that they had to remove the bikes by July, but with the help of Bradford West MP, Naz Shah, this was delayed until March 2022. “For some reason or another”, Ms Nazeem says, this has been redacted and they must vacate in two weeks.
One solution has been offered to Hop-On by the council, that they can store their bikes in Horton Park. However, this is impractical because Hop-on serves the community in and around Lister Park, not Horton.
A solution favoured by Hop-on is to add another storage container, however, the Council told Ms Naseem that because the park is a heritage park, they are unable to add another to the site.
A heritage park, centre, or museum is a public facility that is dedicated to the presentation and preservation of historical and cultural information. Due to this, these spaces often have tight restrictions on development.
The multi-sport coach said: “We don’t understand why it has gotten this far and why we haven’t been able to reach an amicable solution yet. There are plenty of spaces in the park for another storage container.
“We have been offered to use another storage container in a different park, but it is impractical. How are we supposed to get 50 bikes to Lister Park every session?
“In the summer, I thought about giving up and walking away from the organisation but what message does that send out? A big part of what we do is providing empowerment and inspiration to women and girls, and so we couldn’t not fight this.”
Ms Naseem added: “We created the petition so that if the council doesn’t want to listen to us, they can listen to the people who are going to be impacted by this decision. We have over 3000 members and 600 people who use our bikes a month.”
Hop-on and Bradford Council have a meeting on 8 December to try and resolve the issue.
A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We understand the frustrations felt by Hop-On and we continue to work with them to try and find a suitable solution for them to store their bikes. The containers they currently use are not owned by Bradford Council.
“The owners are a disability charity who need these containers for their own activities. There is nowhere in Lister Park that could house another container without jeopardising the heritage and green flag status of the park.
“Hop-On has been offered shared rental of an existing container by the current owners but they have rejected this solution.
“We have been in contact with HopOn on a regular basis, and are meeting again next week to look at different possible alternatives.
“So far we have offered a number of solutions including the use of other green spaces and additional funding through a grant to contribute to a recycled container to store the bikes in a different location. We will continue to help and support as much as we are able to.”
For more information, or to sign the petition, visit here or search the hashtag #savehoponatlisterpark #OneVisonTwoWheelsThreeWomen on social media.
*This statement was amended on 5 December