Cycling project supporting city refuge nominated for top award

A project which saw more than 150 unused bikes and scooters donated to a city refuge to reconnect women and children with the joy of cycling has been nominated for a top award.

The project, involving the council’s Transport Projects team, volunteers from community bike workshop Cranks, national walking and cycling charity Sustrans and the city’s local refuge, is up for a 2021 Modeshift National Sustainable Travel Award in the ‘Best Partnership’ category.

The winners will be announced during Modeshift’s annual conference on 4 November.

Following an appeal to the residents of Brighton & Hove, 155 bikes were donated, serviced and made available to women and children fleeing domestic abuse and violence at the refuge, many of whom had never cycled before.

Using funding secured through the Department for Transport’s Access Fund for Sustainable Travel, the council commissioned Sustrans to deliver weekly cycle training at the refuge for the last year.

Among those who have been helped by the project:

  • A mother who was given support to help teach her six-year-old to ride for the first time. 
  • Two women who had been scared to ride bikes after bad experiences learning to ride previously. Both now have bikes and one is aiming to go on bike rides with her 12-year-old son in the spring, who rides his bike to school every day.

One of the women said: “I can’t afford the bus fare to the beach and it’s too far to walk, I’m so excited I can now ride there.”

Great community response

Amy Heley, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “This is a fantastic project supporting women and children in the city and I want to congratulate everyone involved for this nomination.

“I’m delighted that so many have benefited from the generosity of people in the city and the wonderful impact cycling has had on those at the refuge.”

Karola, Sustrans volunteer and bike mechanic from Cranks community workshop said "It was amazing to see such a great response from the community that donated all those bikes to be refurbished.

“We didn't expect so many people to offer their old bikes when I first suggested doing a call out. It was really lovely to see that people want to help each other out.”

Brilliant local partners

Sarah Leeming, Interim Director for south of England at Sustrans said: “We’re delighted to see this project shortlisted for collaboration with our brilliant local partners. 

“It is down to the hard work of everyone involved that we have seen this project go from strength to strength. 

“So much generosity and care has been put into helping the women and children to connect with the joy and many benefits that come from cycling.”

Shona Kynoch, Domestic abuse caseworker, Stonewater Women’s Refuge added “The bike work at refuge has had such a positive impact on so many women and children living here. 

"One thing that stands out is watching the women cycling around the garden either alone practising or having a lesson and seeing the sheer joy on their faces, they look so happy. 

"Seeing how proud the women and children are when they learn to ride for the first time."

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