Making cycling more inclusive: Experience Community
Each month, we will be shining a spotlight on one of West Yorkshire’s new walking and cycling hubs to find out more about their plans and how you can get involved. This month, we’ve been catching up with Experience Community CIC.
About West Yorkshire’s new walking and cycling hubs
Experience Community is one of thirteen organisations, which will receive a share of more than £640,000 to support people in their communities to walk and cycle, thanks to funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Every walking and cycling hub will receive up to £50,000 to become a “one-stop-shop” for people to access everything they need to walk and cycle, including advice and support on routes, equipment, training and group activities.
Each month, we will be shining a spotlight on one of West Yorkshire’s new hubs to find out more about their plans and how you can get involved.
This month, we’ve been catching up with Experience Community.
About Experience Community
Experience Community is a not-for-profit organisation that helps disabled people access green spaces through walking, cycling, art and conservation activities.
Craig Grimes, managing director and founder of Experience Community, has always had a passion for getting out into the countryside.
In 1997, during his final year as a geography and environmental science student at the University of Wolverhampton, Craig became paraplegic following an accident.
“Back then disabled people couldn’t really access the countryside,” he said.
“I know from my own experiences that getting out into the countryside is great for your mental health, as well as fitness.
“So I set up Experience Community because I still wanted to access green spaces, but there wasn’t any information out there to help me do that.”
A holistic approach to inclusive walking and cycling
Experience Community is looking at every part of walking and cycling to make it more inclusive. So, what does this include?
“We provide the information people need to decide whether a route meets their accessibility needs,” said Craig.
“We give people an opportunity to try out different types of equipment and bikes.
“This kit is specialist and it’s expensive, so it’s important people can try a wide range of items that might help them walk and cycle, whether that’s for fun, commuting or getting about Leeds city centre to do some shopping.
“We also offer a space for people to access expert advice, support and training to build their skills and confidence.
“And our group activity sessions mean people can make new friends and learn from each other’s experiences.”
A tale of two hubs
Experience Community will receive Combined Authority funding for two walking and cycling hubs.
This includes £48,500 to develop its existing hub at Leeds Urban Bike Park.
A further £32,000 of funding will enable the team to introduce a new mobile service, which will be available at West Yorkshire’s other walking and cycling hubs.
“Disabled people can find it difficult to access public transport, walking and cycling,” said Craig.
“This means many people are left with little choice but to travel by car.
“The funding from the Combined Authority is important because it will enable us to provide short-term home loans of equipment, so people can decide what’s most useful for them in their day-to-day lives.
"Combining these services with ways of providing 0% interest financing and a long-term hire scheme will ensure more people can access the equipment they need.”
Services people will be able to access from Experience Community’s walking and cycling hub in south Leeds
- The hub in south Leeds will provide a central one-stop-shop where disabled people can try a range of equipment.
- It will build on the Experience Community’s current work and will be open three days a week by summer 2023.
- The hub will open some Saturdays and evenings from April to September, so people in full-time education or work can access the services.
- People will be able to use the equipment on a weekly basis to improve their skills, fitness and confidence.
- It will also be a social place for people to meet, chat and exchange ideas and experiences.
Services people will be able to access across West Yorkshire from Experience Community’s mobile walking and cycling hub
- Experience Community’s mobile hub will work with the other walking and cycling hubs, so people across West Yorkshire can access the specialist equipment Experience Community owns.
- The team will work with disabled people local to the hubs to identify the best piece of equipment for their needs.
- Equipment can be lent to disabled people for several weeks to make sure it works in their home environment and daily life.
- The equipment can be bought by the local hub, the individual or by using Experience Community’s 0% interest finance options.
Want to find out more?
“If you’re interested in accessing any of our services or would just like a chat to find out more, get in touch on 01484 841438 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”