The London Borough of Hounslow has received the 2019 London Road Safety Award for its success in raising the profile of adult cycle training in the borough, and significantly increasing the number of people participating in adult cycle training.
The London Road Safety Award, previously known as the Laurie Bunn Award, is presented annually to celebrate work carried out within the education, training and publicity aspects of road safety.
The 2019 award recognised two specific initiatives – the Hounslow Biking Belles and Hounslow Adult Cycle Training.
While both are for all adults, they specifically targeted people and groups underrepresented in cycling across London – including women, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and disabled people.
In 2016 Hounslow Council changed the way people accessed its adult cycle training sessions, to remove as many barriers as possible in order to encourage participation – including providing bikes and helmets at no cost to participants.
These moves have resulted in a significant increase in the number of participants.
In 2016/17 just under 100 adults attended the sessions, but by 2018/19 this had increased to 1,686. Over 80% of participants are women and from ethnic minority backgrounds, ranging from 16 – 82 years.
A number of people with disabilities have attended the sessions, and the council is now looking to invest in adapted bikes and to set up weekly ‘drop in’ sessions in September.
The Hounslow Biking Belles meet on a weekly basis to ride out on routes across the borough in their pink Hounslow Biking Belles tabards – raising the profile of the group and cycling itself.
A WhatsApp group has more than 100 members, who share their personal cycling news and achievements.
One of the participants, Ashmi Shah, said: “The training has been brilliant, we’ve learnt about road positioning, approaching junctions and key things to be aware of – and my confidence has definitely increased!
“The instructors are not only knowledgeable but also really supportive, funny and genuinely care about seeing you progress. My mum, who is 60, has also been going to the training sessions!
“I have been taking my bike out more regularly on my own as a result of these sessions. I’ve commuted to work on it and used it to run errands.”
Another, Ambi Calay, added: “I wanted to tick things off my bucket list as I approached 60 and learning to ride a bike was one of them.
“I was a nervous novice initially, but thanks to the amazing support and friendship at bike club, I have accomplished my goal and much more.
“There’s a great bunch of ladies who can laugh a lot and just have fun.
“Thank you so much Hounslow Council for giving women like me the opportunity to learn this basic skill in a safe environment.
The 2019 London Road Safety Award was presented to Fatima Ahmed, road safety manager for Hounslow Council, at the 2019 London Road Safety Council AGM on 12 July.