This week marks Bike Week, a yearly international event that takes place around the world and advocates cycling as a healthy and cost-effective mode of transportation.
According to Cycling UK, the leading cycling charity in Britain, Bike Week has been running for almost 100 years, with the seven-day event being first established in 1923 to encourage more people to cycle more often.
Every year around 500 events are registered as part of Bike Week, such as family-friendly rides, bike maintenance events, bike breakfasts and group rides, to name but a few. Around 300,000 extra people choose to take part every year, on top of the 2.4 million who already cycle regularly in the UK.
However, many residents in Manningham will be missing out on taking part in cycling activities this week because of the lack of provision for them.
In January, Hop On, a social enterprise that delivered cycling sessions to 600 people a month – mainly women and children – had to cease operations because they were evicted from their storage container in Lister Park, which stored around eighty adult and children’s bikes.
The organisation found temporary storage solutions in family-owned businesses, but it was too costly and time-consuming to transport bikes from across the district to the park.
The cycling instructors were then commissioned by British Cycling to deliver sessions in Peel Park, but after a spate of thefts, they had to stop.
Being without income, Fozia Naseem, one of the co-founders of Hop On, found employment with Cycling UK as the cycling development officer for West Yorkshire, to be able to provide cycling sessions for different communities across the district.
Hop On has been promised space at nearby Horton Park by the Council, Ms Naseem said, but five months on and they still haven’t finalised the details like the local authority “drags their feet.”
The instructors will start delivering their sessions in Horton Park when the container is available to them, but Ms Naseem has stepped back from the organisation to focus on her new role with Cycling UK.
“Maybe, you have to go through something to do something else. I was really upset with the outcome with Hop On, but I found another way of making a difference to people’s lives in Bradford.”
She said: “Our sessions in Lister Park stopped because we had to vacate our storage container in January and bringing bikes in from off-site became an issue as we were spending more on staff and getting the bikes into the park than on our sessions.
“We were told that we could set up a container in Horton Park, but it is taking forever. Once the container is in, we will resume delivering sessions as we did in Lister.
“In Peel Park, we had a number of breaks-in which means we can’t deliver there. British Cycling’s bikes were stolen – we were commissioned to do the delivery – but we can’t provide the sessions until the storage issue is sorted out. This was in February, and it is now June.”
She added: “We’ve lost out on months of earnings, and we’ve got people who are waiting. The community think we’ve disappeared because of the inconsistencies.
“We’re going to have to work twice as hard when we begin the sessions again. The community is missing out, so it is going to be a case of re-motivating people and getting them back into a routine of being active. Spring is prime time when people want to achieve their health and fitness goals, which means we’ve already missed the optimum time for engaging people.
“Our staff are not going to be motivated because they have been out of jobs for the past five months, which isn’t fair.”
Through her role at Cycling UK, Ms Naseem is supporting many organisations and communities in groups in Bradford and West Yorkshire to deliver bike sessions.
Speaking about this, she said: “I am the cycling development officer for West Yorkshire for Cycling UK. I support community cycling clubs, help with events, and consult with delivery partners through the Big Bike Revival where we provide funding to get communities engaged in cycling, what I did with Hop On but with Cycling UK. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who does it as long as somebody is doing it.”
Ms Naseem currently supports Bradford Moor PASS, Girls Gotta Ride, SMCA at the Karmand Centre, Margaret Carey Foundation and Ready Steady Peddle, among others.
She added: “Maybe, you have to go through something to do something else. I was really upset with the outcome with Hop On, but I found another way of making a difference in people’s lives in Bradford. When the container goes into Horton Park, I will still be supporting Hop On, but I’ve given the ladies that work for the organisation more responsibility, which was always the plan.”
Bradford Council has been contacted for a comment. Check back regularly for updates.