Fozia Naseem is Managing Director at Hop On, who deliver fun and social rides for families of all abilities in West Yorkshire including cycling skills to build confidence to ride on the roads. Hop On rely on donations of bikes to deliver these activities and spread the love of cycling to people who have never had the opportunity to experience it due to barriers of either not having a bike or the lack of confidence. On International Women’s Day, Fozia tells us why she loves to ride.
Having been through many challenges in life from a very young age and having to overcome them alone wasn’t easy. I went through most of my childhood feeling worthless, unloved and lost as if I had no roots or grounding that made me feel secure. Through adulthood it continued. I made bad choices because of not feeling worthy of anything good and by the age of 32, I really wasn’t in a good place.
During this time, the one thing that I did find was stability whilst on my bike. I saw the world from a difference perspective. I connected with nature and found it grounded me and gave me a sense of belonging. It was on my bike that I felt at peace and was reminded how grateful I was that I had my health and a body that served me well. Riding gave me self-respect and allowed me the space to make positive changes to flourish and grow into the woman I am today.
Having been on my own journey to self-respect and independence, I wanted to help other people gain confidence too. I realised there was an opportunity to use my love of cycling to do this and started running cycling sessions with South Asian ladies who wanted to learn to ride a bike.
Many of them had the physical ability to do it, but we found that they had a psychological block or self-doubt that held them back through the internal language they were using. It was only when we brought their attention to this internal language that they would feel challenged as they had never actually tuned in to it. It was here that they discovered what was going on and accepted something had to change.
It would occasionally turn out that we would have to take some time out away from cycling with some of the ladies to deal with what was going on with them internally before they could move forward. Once they got back on the bike, it was transformational. It was a massive achievement through cycling, but more importantly, it was the psychological benefits unlocked by riding that really made them evolve into the amazing women they are today.
We wanted to create a change in others where it mattered and where it was close to our hearts. To ignite the same passion of challenging, discovering and evolving and here it just presented itself.
We now all ride together and have so much fun as we mix with all communities from around Yorkshire – and the best part is we are keeping fit and healthy as a result. Our groups are more like families. The only difference is when our members are with us they don’t have a role to play, like a mother, daughter or wife. They are their true selves and they are given a safe environment to express themselves freely from which they grow.
The wealth we have got from cycling isn’t so much about the money we save by commuting by bike, for us it’s how rich our lives are now from being part of a community who cycle together and share amazing stories.
Ride365 is our year-round rolling program of activity, promotions, encouragement, and engagement. We have developed four major campaigns spaced equally at one every quarter – to complement seasonal activity and to achieve sustained behaviour change.
A Host of Benefits
Ride365 brings our partners in cities and businesses a host of benefits including:
A proven behaviour change programme – we’ve trialled, tested, and refined our programs over the last 10 years to be as effective as possible. Essentially, we’ve developed an approach that we can roll into a new area, then make some customisations to make it more locally relevant. This approach gets measurable results.
Global, national and local promotion and engagement – the offices in your area are taking part at the same time as the offices across the country and right around the world. This means that companies can get fully behind the programme as it is for all their staff wherever they are, rather than a single location.
Economies of scale and cost efficiencies – there are a lot of efficiencies in bringing a national programme to a local area and localising it (as opposed to inventing a new programme from scratch) and thus Love to Ride’s programmes are very affordable for businesses, cities and regional governments.
Better prizes – we’re able to source amazing prizes for a big national campaign, to complement the local prizes we also secure. Inspiring through rewards and prize giving is one part of behaviour change, therefore helping to get more people participating.
Fostering behaviour change over time – because our approach is year-round, it addresses the fact that changing behaviour takes time and is best achieved one step at a time.
The main aim is to encourage more people to realise the benefits of riding a bike to work. Existing riders are encouraged to try riding to work every day in the week and get into the habit of being a regular bike commuter. There are also incentives for encouraging people to try riding to work for the first time. Find out more here
June – Bike Week
To kickstart the summer of cycling, we focus on riding, encouraging and sharing. Another key aim is to encourage existing and new riders to attend a local Bike Week event. And this year we’re giving away a bike a day for a week!
September – Cycle September
This is the main event – organisations compete to see who can get the highest percentage of staff to ride throughout the month – to hit the top spots in the leaderboards.
We’ve developed size categories to level the playing field and encourage closer (and more fun) competition. Local organisations compete on a local leaderboard as well as UK-wide and Global Leaderboards.
December – Winter Wheelers
As the nights draw in and the cold starts to bite, Winter Wheelers supports people to ride in winter with top tips and an advent calendar’s worth of daily prizes, including great kit, quality gear and beautiful bikes!
Based around a simple advent-style giveaway, prizes are up for grabs every day and our social engagement sees stunning photography, amazing tales of riding through winter and incredibly many participants who took up cycling in September continue to ride right through the winter.
To find out more about Ride365, any of our seasonal promotions or more about how to get more people cycling in your business or area, email the team email@example.com and they will be right back in touch.
In many ways, Love to Ride Southampton is typical of a first-year Love to Ride behaviour change project. A city where, over the years, various infrastructure development and traffic calming measures have been rolled out. There are new cycle lanes, improved access to the National Cycle Network, 20mph zones, a dockless bike sharing scheme, cycle confidence training and popular social enterprises – such as Monty’s Bike Hub – that engage local people and give them access to cycling related activity and resources.
Under the MyJourney sustainable travel banner, the council team has been working hard to engage local people, communities and businesses in the benefits of travelling around the city by sustainable means.
The ultimate goal is to replace car journeys with cycling and walking trips, including increased use of the public transport system – to help people move around the city with ease, reducing congested roads and resulting air-borne pollutants.
Crucially, the goal is also to invest in making changes that benefit all communities of Southampton, enabling them to live, work and play in a city fit for future generations.
“Love to Ride play a key part in our plans to develop Southampton into a true cycling city.This programme has already created a vibrant online community for existing and new cyclists where they can encourage one another and share their experiences of cycling in Southampton. We’re looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Love to Ride and their Ride to Work Week promotion, as part of our upcoming Move in March campaign”. Neil Tuck, Sustainable City Team Leader, Southampton City Council
The city has identified cycling as one of the key ways it can tackle the challenges of air pollution, congestion and physical inactivity that it faces. Southampton adopted its Cycling Strategy in late 2017, setting out ambitious plans to invest over £25m in cycling in the city over a 10 year period. Already over £3m has been spent on new facilities, cycle routes and connectivity across the city with a further £5.3m due to be spent in the coming year. This investment in infrastructure is complemented by a programme of support and incentives using its sustainable travel brand My Journey alongside Love to Ride to help make cycling easier, safer and better.
Changing behaviour and disrupting current, unsustainable travel patterns and modal share is an important part of that strategy, engaging businesses, leaders, communities, stakeholders and people. At Love to Ride we push the ‘everyday cycling’ message hard, also bucking the trend of gender inequality that is still inherent in cycling.
Organic growth – never starting from scratch
As is often the case, when Love to Ride were awarded the contract to deliver this city-wide cycling behaviour change project, we weren’t starting from scratch. Since 2009, Love to Ride (previously Challenge for Change) have been busy engaging new, occasional and regular riders in towns, cities and whole regions across the UK, inspiring them to encourage other people – friends, work colleagues, family members, neighbours – to enjoy the many benefits that riding a bike brings. This cohort of already-engaged people is often made up by those most likely to help get others on board and in Southampton, we had 150 such people in the area who were up for taking on that role. And so the foundations are laid…
Cycle September – let’s go!
The first intervention we delivered with the city was the UK’s National Cycle Challenge – Cycle September. To kick things off in the lead-in to this campaign, the council rolled out additional marketing campaigns – promoting Love to Ride on the back of city buses, on lamppost banners on congested roads and even lift-doors where there was high footfall. The resulting levels of uptake were excellent and to date over 1,000 people have registered, including nearly 200 new riders who were encouraged back into the saddle to enjoy the freedom that riding a bike brings.
The above table shows the ‘main mode of travel’ in the city – broken down by rider frequency (New=not at all or hardly ever / Occasional = 3-4 times per month up to 1 time per week / Regular = 3-4 times per week or more). With 42% of new riders driving alone as their main mode of moving around the city, this alone represents an awesome opportunity to really make a big and lasting difference. And that is exactly where Love to Ride comes in.
Other findings and insights from the Cycle September interim report include:
91% of new riders and 55% of occasional riders reported an intention to increase how often they ride compared to 12 months before Cycle September (2018)
27% of regular riders reported they intend to be riding more than they did before Cycle September (2018)
The main benefits participants wanted to gain from riding a bike were improved fitness; 76%, to save money; 45% and to enjoy the outdoors; 45%
The main 3 barriers participants felt prior to taking part in the challenge were the weather not being good (51%), not knowing a safe route (23%) and no showers at work (19%).
We will return to the research when we re-survey people in March 2019 to understand the levels of change people are already achieving and how, for example, this has impacted single occupancy vehicle use in the city. In the first 6 months alone we have engaged 58 organisations, each one with a cycle champion in place and ready to help push out internal comms and help to promote cycling as a great way to get from A to B in and around the city.
YoBike launched an initial fleet of share bikes in Southampton in late 2017, coinciding with the return of the community’s 40,000-strong student population. Following hot on the heels of YoBike’s success story in Bristol, this dockless app-powered bike-sharing scheme now has more than 25,000 registered users using a fleet of 1,000 bikes.
Dockless bike schemes have rapidly popped up across the UK over the last 2-3 years, but many have withdrawn due to the end of Chinese investment. However, some city schemes have flourished and Southampton is amongst them.
At Love to Ride we work with bike share schemes to give discounts at key times of the year – i.e. during Ride to Work Week – and thus remove the bike (and potentially the cost) as a potential barrier to cycling and to commuting by bike.
Up next in Southampton is Ride to Work Week as part of their Move in March campaign – the first intervention of 2019. Riding to work, or part of the way, has significant benefits that make people happier, healthier and wealthier. Working with the Travel Team, Sustrans officers, other stakeholders, champions and businesses across Southampton, we will be helping release the many benefits of the cycle commute to employers and employees alike.
Would you like to see more people cycling where you are?
Love to Ride work with cities, regions and entire countries right around the world. As a Bristol-based social business, the team partner with collaborators and advocacy groups to tap into local expertise, using their proven web platform and Ride365 programmes to effect positive change, one bike at a time.
If you cycle occasionally for fun or fitness, then this post is to help you to take the next step and get happier, healthier and wealthier by commuting to work by bike. It will help you to identify the barriers to cycling to work and give you some basic, practical steps towards overcoming them. But let’s start by looking at the benefits.
You’ll be happier. Cycling is proven to improve mental health, having a positive effect on wellbeing, self-confidence and resistance to stress. It also helps to reduce tiredness and difficulties sleeping.* People who have switched to commuting by bike consistently report an improved sense of happiness and wellbeing.
You’ll be healthier. Cycling is fantastic exercise. It helps you to lose weight and build muscle without putting too much strain on your joints. A major study at the University of Glasgow recently found that ‘commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death’ and ‘45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease’.* Quite simply, riding to work could save your life.
You can win awesome prizes. We’re going Dutch for Ride to Work Week, so you can win a Babboe cargo bike or a trip for two to the Netherlands just for riding all or part of the way to work from 25-31 March! We’re also giving away amazing Loffi gloves and lots of other goodies…
Know Your Route
Whether you currently drive, walk, or use public transport to get to work, the chances are the best route to take by bike won’t be the one you take now. There are fantastic online resources for sniffing out two-wheeled tricks to avoid traffic and get you to work as fresh and stress-free as possible, such as Cyclestreets (which also has an excellent app) and Google Maps. There’s no substitute, though, for first-hand knowledge and experience: talk to regular cycle commuters, ask them for tips on where to go and tricks to avoid the worst traffic black spots.
Once you’ve got a good idea of the best route to take, do as much of a recce as you can, preferably when there’s not too much traffic around. If you know the road layout ahead, it’s easier to ride confidently in heavy traffic or bad weather when you’re on your way to work.
Even the most careful route planning sometimes can’t entirely avoid busy rush-hour traffic and for many people the greatest obstacle to commuting by bike is an understandable reluctance to mix it with buses, cars and lorries. Here are two straightforward steps to help boost your cycling confidence and equip you with the necessary skills to deal with busy sections of your commute:
Find out about expert training in your area. You wouldn’t drive a car to work before your first driving lesson and unless you’re a confident and experienced road user you shouldn’t cycle to work without some basic training either. Adult cycle training is offered for free or at heavily subsidised rates by most local authorities. You can book a session to ride to work with your instructor and talk over any difficult junctions or traffic black spots so you have specific guidance tailored to your own commute. We can’t recommend training from a qualified National Standards Instructor (NSI) highly enough – find your local provider here.
Team up with a colleague or a neighbour. If you know someone who works with or near you and cycles to work, ask if you can meet them and ride in together a few times. Even the busiest and most daunting commute will feel much more achievable if you can tuck in behind an experienced cyclist, follow their line and learn their tricks for dealing with busy junctions or confusing roundabouts. Most cycle commuters are enthusiastic about cycling and will be glad to help someone make the transition to commuting by bike.
Unless your commute is a substantial distance or over tricky terrain, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a high-end bike and fancy clothing and accessories. However, if you are going to ride to work every day it is worth making sure you can commute comfortably and carry the necessary luggage. If you don’t have a bike or there’s only a rusting death-trap in the garden shed, then consider borrowing or hiring one for a week to see how you find it (schemes such as Cycle Boost in South Yorkshire offer free 1-month loans so you can try riding to work without having to buy a bike; see if there is a similar service in your area). If you live near a Brompton Dock or there’s a bike share scheme where you live you can try cycling to work a few times for less than £20.Increasingly bike shops are offering good, well-equipped bikes for short-term hire at reasonable prices. If you decide cycling to work is for you, look into Cyclescheme: if your employer is signed up you can make substantial savings on new bikes and equipment.
Increasingly, people are disocvering the benefits of e-bikes for commuting. They flatten the hills and mean you turn up feeling fresh, plus they make commuting by bike a piece of cake for anyone who feels they don’t have the fitness to start riding to work on a conventional bike straight away. E-bikes are getting better and cheaper as they become more widespread, so ask your local bike shop for advice.
Other than a bike, you don’t need to worry too much: the majority of people who cycle to work do so in their work clothes. If you want to ride to work whatever the weather or if you have a demanding route, water-proof panniers and/or a change of clothes at work might help: through trial and error you’ll quickly work out the routine and equipment that suit you best. The only ‘must’ is to make sure you have a good lock: the police recommend spending at least a tenth of the value of your bike on a lock.
Your workplace might already have secure bike storage, cycle showers and lockers: sometimes facilities for people who ride to work are tucked away and not very well advertised, so it’s worth asking around to see what’s available. If there aren’t any facilities for cycle commuters, persuade them that there should be. They might not be aware of the benefits of a two-wheeled workforce: research suggests that cycling to work can halve sick days and happier and healthier employees are more productive and highly motivated.** Plus encouraging cycling is a must for any organisation – and it should be every one – that cares about the environment and its green credentials. So if there are no facilities ask your employer why and persuade them that installing a shower and some secure bike storage will be worth their while. Oh, and tell them about the benefits of Love to Ride!
If you follow these simple suggestions, overcoming the barriers you face to cycling to work won’t be a big deal. Once you’ve got hold of a bike, worked out your route and got expert advice you can take the plunge and cycle into work a few times. You’ll quickly start to enjoy it and feel the benefits and hopefully you’ll stick at it and in a year or two you’ll struggle to remember how – or why – you ever travelled to work any other way. Surely there’s no better way to get happier, healthier and wealthier than simply by changing your traveling routine: it’s as easy as riding a bike.
** https://www.sustrans.org.uk/blog/why-walking-and-cycling-are-good-business – if there aren’t facilities at your work, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a gym or leisure centre nearby where you can get a cheap membership just to use the shower and changing facilities