THE popularity of cycling has soared in recent years, helped no doubt by the Olympic exploits of Edinburgh’s own Sir Chris Hoy.
But long before London 2012, Edinburgh YMCA, based in The Acorn Centre in Junction Place, Leith, was leading the way in getting people back in the saddle with its National Lottery-supported On Yer Bike project.
Two years ago the organisation, which works with children, young people, families and adults in Leith, Edinburgh and East Lothian, received a grant of £9529 from the lottery’s Awards for All fund to deliver a programme of cycling events accessible to all ages and levels of experience.
Manager Kerry Reilly said: “We decided to apply for a grant through Awards for All because it is a great way to get funding for piloting a new piece of work or for one-year standalone projects. Turnaround time on decisions is also quick and it is a simple and straightforward application process.
“We decided on a biking project as we were working with adults and families who had expressed an interest in cycling, and in finding out more about looking after their bikes. We were also aware of families that we worked with who had no real opportunities to engage in healthy, outdoor pastimes suitable for all ages.”
On Yer Bike activities, which were delivered in partnership with The Bike Station, MY Adventure and Cycling Scotland, ran from November 2011 until last year and included free bike mechanics training, cycling activities and outdoor adventure day trips for adults and families living and working in north and north-east Edinburgh.
Roughly 75 people, with ages ranging from toddlers to 50, took part in activities and training. Among them was Ivor Miller, 44, of Restalrig.
He said: “I really enjoyed taking part and learning more about how to maintain my bike. Using it more often not only saves me money and keeps me fit, but it’s also better for the environment. It also felt good to set myself goals and earn a new qualification.”
Eleven students in total gained a City and Guilds qualification in bike repair and maintenance, while eight also completed cycle ride leader training. One student also went on to volunteer at MY Adventure and another at The Bike Station.
Ms Reilly said: “One of the families who took part now ride to school together every day and many others continue to ride just for pleasure.”
By playing the National Lottery you help raise £35m every week for Good Causes. To see the difference this makes in your community visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk.