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Date: 31 January 2023 Author: Energise Me
Recently named as one of Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling, Anne shares her journey with us. From little activity to active travel, she now hopes to help others gain the confidence to cycle every day.
When I was a child, I wasn’t particularly active. I tended to be more academic than physical. In school, I was usually picked for teams in PE around third from last. I did play occasionally for the school hockey team, but only because they were really short of players!
Still, I remember always having a bike. Ever since I was in the single figures age range, whether it was a hand-me-down from my brothers or a second hand one. I have a vivid memory of when I was sixteen trying to cycle up a hill near where I lived, and I was struggling. So, I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed it in my youth.
In the last three to four years, my bike suddenly became the way I get around. After moving somewhere relatively flat, I realised that it was another way of freedom. So, I stopped owning a car in 2019 and cycling became my main source of transport. Not only was I making an eco-friendly choice, but I was benefiting my body too.
Here I am at 53 cycling to get to where I need to be. That can vary from getting to work to visiting people or getting to a station. Exercise became embedded into my day, and as a result, I know that I’ve done my half an hour. Of course, it started off as very short distances, but when I moved to Havant Borough, I started using my bike a lot more. However, I quickly realised that levels of cycling were quite low in my local area. So, I thought to myself: how can I help people to cycle?
I was back and forth between partaking in a Level 2 course in cycle instruction. Then I found out about Energise Me through some community work I was doing. I applied for a grant and crossed my fingers… I was successful.
For me to learn a skill that would help other people cycle was extremely valuable.
That meant something very important to me. For me to learn a skill that would help other people cycle was extremely valuable. And someone was willing to give me money to help me do it. It took me a few months to find a course. The qualification isn’t easy to obtain either. One of the criteria was 72 hours of practice. How could I prove that? I reached out to my local community, and they sort of became my guinea pigs.
I ended up teaching two types of people. The first were women either my age or slightly younger who lacked confidence or had a bad experience. What they wanted was somebody to reassure them or help to better their technique so that they could do those everyday journeys. The second was family groups. This was challenging as I needed to find a balance among the different ages and levels of experience.
After lots of work I finished my final assessment on September 25th 2022.
The project we set up, the Solent Cycle Project, was created to build local people’s confidence while cycling around the borough. Soon, it grew into a team of volunteers working towards the same goal. What we’re really focused on is enabling people to go out and assess the environment or their route and say: ‘ok, this is how I’m going to approach it.’
This project offers drop-in cycle maintenance sessions and guided rides. If you’d like to get in touch with Anne, contact her via:
Getting comfortable commuting on a bike starts with reducing stress before it arises. Learnings from my personal experience, include:
I just see it as such a freedom and I want everyone else to be able to feel that way too.
The big picture is that I can inspire more people in Havant to cycle those shorter journeys and help them feel assured to do so. Now, there are some things I don’t have control over. But what I can do is help people to understand how to cycle in a way that makes them feel more confident in overcoming those obstacles.
I have another dream in the works to host a low-cost or free cycling class for those who can’t afford it. To move that forward, everything needs to be a bit more formalized in terms of people, work and processes.
I also run a social enterprise called ‘Solent Remade’ which is all about repair and reusing, but also about accessing opportunities through active travel.
Overall, the future is do more training and instructing in some shape or form. Ultimately, my goal is to get people cycling every day. I just see it as such a freedom and I want everyone else to be able to feel that way too.