Our impact

We have increased cycling, improved health and wellbeing, community life, and tackled isolation, inequalities and the climate crisis.

Since our inception in 2014, York Bike Belles has had a positive impact on the quality of life of York residents. We have had particular success in increasing levels of cycling, community volunteering and well-being. We have improved well-being by bringing people together to build relationships, improving their sense of belonging and feeling part of the community, their confidence and self-esteem, their sense of happiness and ‘connectedness’ to the natural world.

We have reduced inequalities by attracting participants from groups usually under-represented in physical activity, especially women, those over 55, and those with low wellbeing and health conditions. And we have helped improve the mental wellbeing and quality of life of York’s elder community 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 concern. On Cycling Without Age Rides, all passengers were aged between 75 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 next 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.

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.

We have made a real difference to people’s lives

You have changed my life, Bike Belles” (Rose, Cake Confidence participant, 2019)

It’s my freedom!” (Joyce, Cycling Without Age Ride passenger, 2019)

Cycling has helped me lose weight, get fitter and it’s also great for mental health” (Simon, Cycling Without Age Volunteer, 2019)

You can read many Stories of Change from the people we have worked with in the Voices section of this site.

And do check out our short videos starring the participants from our Cake Confidence start cycling scheme and Cycling Without Age Rides, new for November 2021!

We have created new programmes

Between 2017 and 2020, we created 11 new walking and cycling programmes in 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! and Cycling Without Age Rides.

In 2021, we created new programmes called ‘Out and About’ 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 in particular.

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!