Recycled bikes bring new joys to family life. Meet Clara de Sousa:
Clara de Sousa never had the opportunity to learn to cycle when she was young. We caught up with her to find out how a recycled bike and cycle training, means she can now join her young family on rides
I really love cycling - I never thought that I would like it so much! It helps you stay active, and you don't have to force yourself to go to the gym.
Clara de Sousa never had the opportunity to learn to cycle when she was young. She now has three children of her own. Clara explains “We are an active family – all my children can cycle and have their own bikes, but I could never go out with them for a bike ride”
We caught up with Clara to hear how support to help her learn to ride - and the tool to carry on means she can join her family as they get out on their bikes.
During the summer of 2020, Clara looked for cycle lessons and found CityConnect were running adult cycle training in a nearby park.
‘I started in August, and I did quite a few lessons. After a few sessions you can ride a bike, but I wasn’t really confident. I needed my own bike to practice on. After the first few lessons I heard about the ‘Bike Fix Project’, which fixed up donated bikes, and they gave me a second-hand bike.
During the first lockdown period, many more people became interested in using a bike to get around. A new bike is not affordable for everyone. However, there are literally thousands of unused bikes not being used – which with a little TLC can be given a new lease of life.
South Leeds Big Bike Fix Project was set up by local community activists and co-ordinated by St Luke CARES to solve this conundrum. Supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through a community grant, over the summer and autumn of 2020, they skilled-up local volunteers to fix and recycle hundreds of bikes. The project also offered free repairs and servicing for people’s existing bikes, and ran bike maintenance courses, so that people were more able to look after their own bikes.
Clara explains “The South Leeds Bike Fix project was a real grass roots project – when the weather was good, repairs might be done on the street. I think local repair projects like this are really important – people in your local neighbourhood who can help with small fixes that keep your bike ‘on the road’.”
“There are lots of people who can’t afford to get repairs done in bike shops. If I go there with a problem, they try to show me how I could fix it myself next time.”
“With the bike from South Leeds Big Bike Fix, and the confidence the cycle training has given me, I’m now going on rides with my kids.
“I really love cycling - I never thought that I would like it so much! It helps you stay active, and you don't have to force yourself to go to the gym.”
If you are inspired by Clara’s story, find out more about free adult cycle training sessions in your area here