New cycling programme in East London wants to ‘bridge gap’ in health inequality

Bikeworks member Calvin. Photograph: courtesy Bikeworks

A new cycling programme is helping Londoners with a disability or mental health need reconnect with outdoor activity after a turbulent year of Covid restrictions.

Bikeworks, a community social enterprise, is soon to move into new digs at the Centre of Excellence at the Olympic Park, where it will continue to provide free, inclusive cycling for its All-Ability Club, which has 3,000 members.

People will also be able to visit for professional advice on the purchase and fitting of adaptive bikes, including modifications for limb length such as changing where the brakes and handlebars are located.

Bikeworks’ All-Ability Club has 3,000 members. Photograph: courtesy Bikeworks

The organisation also runs a growing Ride Side-by-Side initiative, which sees trained Cycle Pilots provide a taxi service across East London for older or isolated people, who can book rides to the shops or anywhere else around their local area.

Bikeworks CEO Jim Blakemore said: “The Covid pandemic has exposed many uncomfortable truths, especially in a world where disability, ethnicity and economic status means you are more likely to face exclusion from the opportunities afforded to others.

“Our impactful inclusive community programmes use the bicycle to create positive change. Our unique approach aims to bridge a crucial gap and help Londoners, especially those most excluded who have social and health issues, to build back better when it comes to their wellbeing.”

After seeing a rise in demand for its programmes, Bikeworks is now calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to review City Hall’s policies as a matter of urgency to help tackle health inequality in the capital.

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