Saturday Cycles is run by The Young Lewisham Project out of their bike workshop in Lewisham. It helps and encourages people of all ages from the local community to get involved in cycling as a fun activity. They aim to provide participants with both the knowledge about cycle maintenance as well as knowledge about the many health benefits of cycling.
The project runs a maintenance workshop teaching people how to maintain their own bikes and how to work on, and even build, other bikes to be given to people who don’t have one. They also provide guided rides out to locations such as: Herne Hill Velodrome, BMX tracks, long rides into the countryside, parks, mountain-biking and more. It is these trips out which seem to be the most popular amongst participants.
The money provided from TfL’s Cycling Grants London scheme allows the project to run every Saturday for four hours, forty weeks a year, which includes workshops and up to six excursions. Participants learn how to service and repair a donor bike (of which the project receives about sixty a year), or learn how to maintain their own bike. All participants, regardless of age and experience, also have the opportunity to complete the Bikeability Level 1 course too.
A great anecdote from this project comes from a young asylum seeker who had heard about the service and came along but did not have a bike, so Saturday Cycles gave him one. He then carried on attending sessions and used the bike to get around, but one day the bike was found left in the workshop. This is because the man had saved up enough money to buy a bike for himself, and so gave the bike back for someone else to use.
Giving advice to other projects, Saturday Cycles said that it helps to have other sources of funding, so don’t just rely on one, but look for other sources if you can.
Shuqai, participant said: “I enjoy it the most when I come here; you help me fix my bike so I can ride again. You help me fix my sister’s bike, my brother’s bike, and my bike and you gave me a new bike!”
Roy, workshop leader said: “It’s brilliant to be able to offer something to benefit the local community, it gives great satisfaction. It’s great to see young people engage with something positive on Saturday mornings.”