World Bicycle Day
June celebrates #WorldBicycleDay. In order to make the biggest impact on air pollution in our communities, we’re encouraged to reduce how much we use our cars. Tower Hamlets has high traffic levels and has therefore been running an anti-idling campaign for a number of years now.
Walking and cycling groups are a brilliant way to connect locally, find routes with reduced air pollution and positively impact climate change. You can find a number of different local Tower Hamlets cycling clubs or with the organisation Cycle Sisters you can borrow and ride a bike in local parks in Tower Hamlets – an initiative that connects Muslim women through cycling.
One of the ‘Cycle Sisters’, Shabnab shares her story:
When I heard about Cycle Sisters, I really wanted to take part but I felt nervous to meet new people as I had left work 18 months before and spent a lot of time at home. My only experiences of cycling and outdoor activities had been with my family so cycling with others felt like a big step. My first ride was challenging as I realised I was unfit and worried about keeping up. The sisters were supportive so I felt at ease, relaxed, safe and realised how important this was.
I’m an introvert and sometimes find socialising quite challenging so I’ve been surprised how comfortable I’ve felt on the Cycle Sisters rides. There’s such a positive vibe. Everyone is so warm and friendly that I don’t feel judged in any way and it has really boosted my self esteem. Each ride has its own special moments – you end up cycling next to different sisters and hearing their stories – I really enjoy the different conversations! I’ve discovered that cycling is my comfort zone to meet people and socialise. I feel different when I come home after the rides – lighter and brighter somehow.
Since 2018, cycling has become part of my daily life. Cooking and everything else is planned around the group rides. The rides have encouraged me to improve my health, work on my pace and to be outdoors. This helps me to change my mindset when I feel low. I feel different when I cycle with my family now – I sometimes lead rides with my husband and daughters using the new routes that I’ve learnt through Cycle Sisters. I definitely felt so much more confident to cycle on Redbridge’s busy roads after a few lessons with a Cycle Sisters instructor. I even corrected my husband’s road positioning the other day to make sure he wasn’t too close to the car doors!
When I found out that Cycle Sisters was planning a new group in Redbridge, I was so excited as that’s my local area and previously I had been driving to the group in Walthamstow. One of my neighbours recently asked me to cycle with her as she’d seen me on my bike and I feel really surprised that I am actually now a role model for other women alhamdulillah. I’m planning to train as a Ride Leader to help run the rides in Redbridge which is something I would never have imagined I could have done.
Find out more about Cycle Sisters here.
Image: Cycle Sisters