Cycling for the 50+ offers beginner cycling courses which are tailored to the 50+ community. This group is significantly under-represented in cycling due to barriers such as fitness, health problems, cost and many will have not ridden a bike for a very long time, or they simply never learnt how. Not only will this project increase their physical activity and show older adults that cycling is a cheaper and more convenient alternative to public transport, but it can have the added benefits of improving mental wellbeing and bringing them to a social and supportive environment, thus reducing isolation. Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided at each session, to create a fun, relaxing and social course. All participants receive a certificate once they complete their course.
In addition to the initial sessions to teach the participants how to ride a bike confidently, there are also regular follow-on scheduled rides. These are volunteer led, and all participants should be invited to attend these.
Each session lasts about two hours, and 4-6 sessions are run over one 3-month course, one in the morning and another in the afternoon to suit people’s preferences. Sessions run during the summer months are the most likely to attract a good number of participants.
Target audience and engagement
• The key target audience is older adults, aged 50+
• Engagement events, posters and flyers, in parks, libraries, community groups, doctor’s surgeries and any location where regular sessions for the 50+ community are held
• Word of mouth, this is especially effective for the older generation
• Medium to large (40-50 participants)
• Geographically- anywhere there is space to teach beginners cycling. Example spaces include parks, car parks and schools
• Bikes of various sizes (or you could ask participants to bring their own)
• Helmets of various sizes
• Maintenance kit
• Basic spare bike parts
• Cycle Instructor:
-Run the cycling sessions
-Give basic lessons on bike maintenance
-Ensure participants feel confident and well looked-after
-Must be a qualified and experienced instructor, preferably with experience working with older people
• Project Leader:
-Oversee the project ensuring the participants feel safe, are enjoying their time and that all equipment is returned
-Ensure all funding criteria and documentation is met (if required)
-Run risk assessment for safeguarding, injuries and to identify any other concerns which may affect project delivery
-Gather feedback from participants
-The Project Lead should have the requisite level of DBS and understand health and safety needs (preferably First Aid trained)
• Volunteers/Project Officers:
-Help answer queries
-Contribute to overseeing activity and potentially fix any equipment issues
-Run the follow-on schedules rides
• Storage space:
-You will need somewhere to store equipment. This can be at a community centre, or perhaps another local business that has storage room. Your Council may be able to provide you with information on who to contact. You could also use a shipping container, see if anyone is willing to lend you one, otherwise you could buy one as a last resort. Try to keep this as close to the location of the sessions as possible
-Flyers and posters for publicity of the sessions
-Tea, coffee and snacks at every session, this will lighten the mood and offers and incentive for people to come
NB: Any volunteer who wishes to run the follow-on scheduled rides, must have relevant ride leader training.
Estimated project costs
• Bikes of different sizes (£250 per bike) £2,000 - £3,000
• Cycle Instructor £0 - £2,500 (depending on location)
• Helmets £150
• Maintenance kit and spare parts £150
• Project Manager £500
• Flyers and posters £100
• Refreshments £60
• Ride Leader Training £150
• Shipping container (if relevant) £1,500
Top tips/key learnings
• Make sure the area you choose has good transport links which are accessible, e.g. step free if possible.
• Keep the number of participant’s low, maximum 6 per session. This makes them less intimidating, and people are more likely to form closer friendships. It also means participants get much more one-to-one time with the instructor.
• Try to keep the sessions fun and relaxed, remember this isn’t about racing, just about getting older people out and about on their bikes!
• It’s good to measure whether participants are more or less confident in riding a bike, or whether they feel encouraged to try riding bikes more. This is done by a ‘hands up’ survey or with a questionnaire, where participants are asked to confirm or not, certain statements about their view of cycling.
• Try to ensure the follow-on rides aren’t always the same, otherwise people might get bored and stop coming. These can be rides to different parks, or along canals, or stopping at different cafes etc. on the way.
• Make sure you start planning at least 6 months before the first session.
Maximising local contacts
• Utilise networks to recruit participants, find a free space to run the sessions and store the bikes, or even get in kind support. (Places of worship, community centres, leisure centres, playgrounds, schools).
• Think about how you might be able to run the volunteer follow-up sessions. Are there any local cycling or volunteering groups? Or could your participants be engaged to fill this role/roles?
• Engage with your council – they may be able to lend you equipment, help market the project and help secure a space.
• Try partnering with local council’s cycling provider to see if there’s any way you can work together – this way you could get subsidised cycling instructor quotes, or even get it for free!
If you decide to run your own version of this project in your community, please email us at email@example.com. We love to hear that we are inspiring people to walk and cycle.