A community group’s cycle club in Walsall has taken delivery of new bikes to replace ones stolen by thieves. The Agenda 21 group, based in Reedswood Park, Birchills provides free ‘Learn to Ride’ training sessions for local youngsters, hosts bikes maintenance classes and has scores of people of all ages attend its regular guided rides for all around the park and beyond.
But last month 45 of their community bikes were stolen from a sealed container outside the community centre in Bentley Lane leaving the group devastated. Kind-hearted members of the local community rallied round and 20 second hand bikes were donated and are being readied, and in some cases repaired, for use.
And now, following a request for help to West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, the group has taken delivery of a further 14 brand new Raleigh bikes, plus helmets and equipment, courtesy of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and The Active Wellbeing Society through the region wide Cycling For Everyone scheme.
Agenda 21 volunteer Shokt Fazal said: “Five weeks ago we were ready to give up, it was heartbreaking. But now thanks to all these groups pulling together we’ve got new bikes and can continue the good work we’ve been doing over the last three years. We’ve empowered our community again. Cycling brings the community together, gets us active and improves our mental health, especially after covid, getting out into green spaces improves the whole mindset as well as physical health.”
Adam Tranter, West Midlands cycling & walking commissioner, said: "We're delighted to be able to support this community initiative in Walsall via our Cycling For Everyone programme, the legacy project of the Commonwealth Games.
“Like many people, we were appalled to hear that the group had 45 bikes stolen - meaning local people couldn't take part in their cycling activities. As well as overwhelming community support with people donating bikes to the group, the Mayor and I were delighted to be able to work with Transport for West Midlands to support with 14 brand new bikes”.
He added: "Groups like these show the best of the West Midlands and we're pleased to do our part in enabling local people to access cycling more easily."
Funded by TfWM, Cycling for Everyone, a Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games legacy project, includes training sessions, bike giveaways and organised rides. The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) are running the Cycling for everyone bike giveaways across the region.
Sue Mellor, head of cycling with TAWS said: “When we first heard about the stolen bikes from the Agenda 21 we really wanted to help. The Active Wellbeing Society are currently distributing free bikes out across the seven West Midlands Combined Authority boroughs as part of the Cycling for Everyone program building on the legacy of the Commonwealth Games aimed at encouraging more people to cycle.
“With the current financial pressures, social isolation and mental wellbeing at the forefront, it’s so important to have good community assets such as this for people to access locally. The group are truly inspirational and are doing an amazing job of providing activities and a warm welcome in order to do the social knitting needed for the community to thrive, have fun and improve their mental and physical wellbeing.”
The handover of bikes was also attended by representatives of Walsall Council, Cycling UK, British Cycling and Raleigh in support of Agenda 21 and their work.