Introducing Colin, one of our friendly Ride Side-by-Side Cycle Pilots in West London.
What’s a Cycle Pilot you ask? The Ride Side-by-Side is a free London based service set-up by Bikeworks, offering cycle rides to people who are isolated or experiencing loneliness. It’s proving to be an increasingly popular service enabling more people to get out-and-about in their local communities.
We talk to Colin to learn more about his experience as a cycle pilot:
Where in London can we find you?:
I’m based at our West London Hub, close to Grenfell between Notting Hill and Shepherds Bush. The community spirit here is amazing and everyone is so friendly.
What prompted you to take up a Cycle Pilot role?
I have loved cycling all of my life and thrive on helping others to share this joy, seeing all the wellbeing benefits this brings. I was aware of some of the great work of Bikeworks from my previous cycle commute to East London, so when my long career in finance ended, the opportunity to join the Ride Side-by-Side Cycle Pilot team was a dream come true for me.
Are you involved in other community work?
I have been cycling for my local cycling club for 45 years and I’m now President, Treasurer and Welfare Officer as a British Cycling volunteer, so all this, alongside my riding and time with my wife and family keeps me very busy. Learning about the varied individual needs of Bikeworks passengers, getting to know them and sharing the fun of riding has been a superb experience.
Where did you hear about the role?
I originally remember seeing the “Dr Bikes” Bikeworks stands in East London when commuting and then heard about Bikeworks many other cycling activities, which led on to the Ride Side-by Side interest.
Is it a physically demanding role?
Being a Cycle Pilot is not too demanding as there is battery assistance. I cycle regularly and compete in races at the weekend, so I’m already reasonably fit. However with three passengers, shopping and a steep hill or two, plus a drained battery, you can feel the effects at the end of the day!
Best thing about being a Cycle Pilot?
Definitely meeting the amazing people who choose to book the service. It’s an all-ability service and passengers come from a very wide range of ages, backgrounds and medical conditions.
This is Rosemary (below), out-and-about in Hyde Park with me. Rosemary was one of my first ever passengers and is now a regular. After living on the streets for some years and battling illness, she now has local temporary accommodation. However, she struggles more than ever with loneliness, so the Side-by-Side Cycle is very important to her for enabling social trips, shopping, medical appointments, going to the Day-Centre, and of course a chance for a good chat and a laugh together.
I love the many green spaces across London and in the West we’re fortunate to have some wonderful parks, as well as the riverfront. My favourite view is from Hyde Park, looking east across the Serpentine (pictured) which passengers always enjoy.
Any funny stories to share?
Fridays often find me in Little Wormwood Scrubs Park supporting the All Ability Cycling Club, where we share the paths with everyone and their dogs. Some passengers sometimes like to play music while we ride and seeing the small dogs trotting and bouncing in time to the music as we roll by makes everyone laugh and smile all the more.
What advice would you give to anyone who is unsure about taking a journey?
Go for it!! Whatever your age and fitness there is a rewarding experience to be had. I can tailor your ride to your individual needs. Choose a quiet route and you can even bring a friend or two to share the fun. You will go home with a smile!
See the cycle in action below!
Caption: A super cycle ride supporting Leny at the Earls Court Wellbeing Centre where she facilitates activities for her group each week.
Our cycles were taken by our pilots Fabio and Colin, each supporting 6 passengers. And check that Strava map out! A lovely ride round Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, around the Serpentine and past the Albert Hall.
A superb social experience for all the ladies from differing backgrounds but with plenty of chatting. As several had not cycled for many years, some recently unused pedalling muscles were very much re-awakened! The ladies absolutely loved the experience!
Don’t worry if you don’t feel able to pedal much – you can do as much as you feel able and we will still have fun. I call the cycle my “smile machine” as everyone on board or watching can’t help but smile as we roll along and ring the bells. Motorists are very patient and there is usually a quiet route or cycle path to avoid most traffic. If it rains we have capes/ ponchos on board to keep you dry.
The Bikeworks Ride Side-by-Side Cycle is operating across areas over London so if you’re interested in booking the service, please get in touch with our friendly team.
You can call us: call 020 8980 7998 (option 5) and we will help you with your booking.