Enjoy our NEW “Experience York Bike Belles 2022” short film!
Since 2014, York Bike Belles has transformed the lives of many York residents.
Our work has increased walking, cycling and nature connection, while also improving health and wellbeing, community life, reducing inequalities and tackling the climate and nature crises.
Our walking, cycling and nature activities have improved mental and physical health and wellbeing by:
- increasing participation in walking, cycling and physical activity
- improving access to the outdoors and green routes and spaces
- bringing people together to build relationships. This has reduced isolation and loneliness, improved social contact and enabled people to feel part of the community
- increasing confidence and self-esteem and developing people’s skills
- improving connection to nature, with improved mood and reduced feelings of anxiety and stress
- increasing sense of purpose in life, especially in our volunteers
We have reduced inequalities by attracting participants from groups usually under-represented in physical activity and access to nature, who can be marginalised and vulnerable. This includes women, people over 55, and people with disabilities, health challenges and low wellbeing. We have helped improve the mental wellbeing and quality of life of York’s elder community and those with restricted mobility through our Cycling Without Age Rides.
On our Cake Confidence start cycling scheme, 91% of participants were women, 60% were aged over 55 and 54% expressed a mental or physical health challenge. On our Cycling Without Age Rides, all passengers were aged between 35 and 104, all with restricted mobility, and many with multiple long-term disabilities.
We have successfully engaged the York community
Just before lockdown in March 2020, we were delivering an extensive programme of 35 free, face-to-face walking and cycling activities to an average of 119 people a month, helped by a team of 30 trained volunteers.
In late March 2020, all activities were put on hold with the first Covid -19 lockdown. For the 2020/21 year, we adapted to the pandemic situation and continued to deliver communications and some activities online. We adapted other activities to be Covid-secure and restart their face to face delivery again as soon as possible. We supported community volunteers to help deliver our work and develop our organisation. Finally, we created new initiatives in response to the Covid-19 needs of the York community, including free bike loans to key workers and new Nature Time Routes and Walks.
In 2021/22, we made excellent progress in recovering from the pandemic. We delivered 180 free walking, cycling and nature activities to 454 York residents, working with 27 volunteers for 2580 volunteer hours and 9 delivery partners. Have a read of our CIC Report 2021/22.
We have been effective
In 2019, 75% of all respondents to an open survey said contact with us encouraged them to increase their cycling levels; 70% of respondents said they made new friends and felt more part of the York community, and 52% felt more connected to nature. 92% of Cake Confidence participants said they started cycling after support from us. 100% of Cycling Without Age Ride passengers said they felt “much happier” after a Ride 😊.
In 2020/21, we adapted and restarted our Cake Confidence start cycling scheme to be Covid-secure. We delivered 112 activities, and had a 97% success rate in increasing levels of cycling in York residents. The scheme saw excellent increases in participant wellbeing, with the majority learning new skills, feeling happier, with improvements in confidence and self-esteem, feeling more part of the community, less isolated and feeling connected to the natural world.
In 2021/22, we restarted our Cycling Without Age Rides to elder care home residents. Described by one care partner as a “lifesaver”, the Rides enabled elder residents to recover form the isolation, loneliness and mental trauma of the pandemic by getting outside and connecting with nature and their community. We developed a blended volunteer learning programme and had over 100% increase in volunteer recruitment.
We have made a real difference to people’s lives
“It’s my freedom!” (Joyce, Cycling Without Age Ride passenger)
“You have changed my life, Bike Belles” (Rose, Cake Confidence participant)
“Cycling has helped me lose weight, get fitter and it’s also great for mental health” (Simon, Cycling Without Age Volunteer)
And do check out our short videos below starring the participants from our Cake Confidence start cycling scheme and Cycling Without Age Rides.
We have created new programmes
We have created 12 new walking, cycling and nature projects for York. This includes Cake Confidence, York’s Walk Cycle Festivals, award-winning Travel with Tots, Social Rides, the Illuminate Your Bike Ride, cheese and wine Bike Maintenance workshops, the Walking Book Group, Nature Time Walks and Rides, Nature Time Routes, Take the Green Route!, Cycling Without Age Nature Rides and Car-Lite Living.
We have improved public spaces
We helped improve 8 York public and green spaces, with 5 Greenway Murals on routes across the city, a trial on-street parklet on Micklegate and grass Labyrinths in the Museum Gardens and Rowntree Park.
We have made a big difference to women’s lives.
We originally set up in 2014 as a cycling community for women, to enable more women to discover the joys of a cycling lifestyle.
We have since expanded our work, but let’s not to forget the inspiring video from that time – 3 women, 3 bikes, 3 months. Check it out!
Finally, we rely on donations and grants to fund our activities, which are offered free of charge to York residents. If you are able to support us, please do consider a donation. You can donate here.
York Bike Belles is an award-winning charitable organisation, incorporated as a not for profit Community Interest Company. Walk and cycle with us into a healthy, green and kind future!