Case study - March 2021

This case study has been kindly completed by Elspeth Gracey, who is one of our valued Community Green Team volunteers.

The following is a case study of one of our adult led cycle ride leaders. The case study highlights the positive impact that cycling has had on the participants in the ride

Cycling Experience

They are an experienced cycle leader with a specific interest in those with special needs and promote inclusivity in cycling. Other cycle trainers will refer those who have particular challenges to them for 1:1 training. They have been involved with the Adult led cycle rides at Glasgow Eco Trust since the beginning of 2019.

The people who join the Adult led rides

They describe a wide range of cycling skills from beginners to experienced cyclists. In some instances they wonder what motivation drives people who appear to be confident cyclists who do a lot or cycling on their own to join. “But they continue to come so they definitely get something out of it.” The expectation of participants is that they have basic cycling skills. “They have to be able to ride and get themselves and their bikes to the start”.

Knowledge, Skills and Confidence

They describe the differences made to knowledge, skills and confidence as being seen “in many guises”. Specifically lockdown has “made it more acute in terms of social isolation”.

“Offering 1:1 rides has meant that a lot of people enjoy just being with another person and just talking while riding”.

“So reasons for taking part are more apparent.”

“In general women are often lacking in confidence when they join.”

Key skills which the ride leaders convey includes amongst other things being on the road with other traffic.

“As leaders we focus on coaching people especially giving detailed explanations of ‘on road’ riding so that people know how to look after themselves and communicate with other road users.”

“In almost everybody we see improvement in skills and confidence.”

Health and Wellbeing

Their response to this question was to clearly divide physical from mental wellbeing.

“Physically, well obviously, people get exercise and fresh air. It might be considered difficult to measure but we see people who are able to go faster and further. We see people who manage hills better maybe they used to stop half way up the hill and now they don’t stop.”

“Cycling is good in general as a non impact sport so very few medical conditions would be barred from cycling.”

“In terms of mental wellbeing being sociable and outdoors its possible to feel within 100 yds of cycling the release of tension.”

They tell us this is indicated by “seeing the big smiles on everyone’s faces”

Connection to their community

“The vast majority of people belong locally and start to make connections outwith the led ride, most have developed new associations either with others or using other local facilities. It definitely widens the horizons of many and has inspired them to do other activities within the community that they didn’t do previously.”

Sense of Control and Resilience

“Increased self confidence and independence contributes to this. One of our participants has learned how to participate more comfortably in a group setting. Over time we have built a trusting relationship with them and I’ve seen their resilience build over time. They are willing to participate much more easily than before.”

Impact on the Environment

“The most obvious thing is those in the group who have their own car or use other forms of transport report using their bikes more often.”

“I myself am now more aware that there is a whole sub-culture of people, layers of young people with fantastic ideas and morals, a strata of young people who are fabulous and taking action on all these issues. My exposure to local organisations like the Eco Trust has made me more aware to be environmentally and socially sensitive.” 

Anything else

“Well it maybe too pat to say that local organisations that I know, Glasgow Eco Trust, Heart of Scotstoun, Free Wheel North are SO undervalued. Government structures need to recognise what value for money they are, what people get out of these organisations is very undervalued.”

“An example is an organisation that worked with women prisoners to build a bike, taught people to ride and about cycling and maintaining their bike and then at the end they got to keep the bike. The costs are relatively low and the benefits are amazing.”

“I’m not sure if it’s just a lack of social acceptance that we don’t do more of this but surely its obvious that prevention is better than cure and there should be better investment in local organisations doing this work.”

The adult led cycle rides are supported by Glasgow Community Cycling Network and Glasgow City Council and the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund and we are grateful for their support.

More info about the led rides

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