Our organisation

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Welcome to our friendly community!

We work towards a vision of York as a healthy, green, and kind, city where everyone thrives, now and in a sustainable future.

Our objectives are to encourage and enable residents of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle as the natural way to get around York, while improving well-being, community life, public spaces, and tackling inequalities and the climate and nature crises.

York Bike Belles is a charitable community organisation, incorporated as a not for profit Community Interest Company.

This page was updated in July 2020

Our impact so far

Since our inception in 2014, York Bike Belles has made a real difference to the health and wellbeing of York residents. We have had particular success in increasing levels of cycling and community volunteering, and bringing local people together to build relationships and inclusion, and connecting them with the natural world. We have reduced inequalities by attracting residents from groups usually under-represented in physical activity, especially women, those over 55, and those with low wellbeing. And we are delighted to have also helped improve the quality of life of York’s elder community through our Cycling Without Age Rides.

Over the last 3 years (2017 – 2020), we worked with 128 community volunteers to deliver 758 walking and cycling-related activities with 4802 participants. There were over 60,000 engagements on our popular Facebook page. Before lockdown in March 2020, we were delivering 15 activities a month, with a team of 30 trained volunteers.

In 2019, 75% of all respondents to an open survey said contact with us encouraged them to increase their cycling levels. 70% 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 or cycled more often after support from us. 100% of Cycling Without Age Ride passengers said they felt “much happier” after a Ride 😊.

On Cake Confidence, 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.

You can read some stories of change from the people we have worked with in the Stories section of this site.

Over the last 3 years, we also created 7 new walking and cycling activity programmes in York, including Cake Confidence, York’s Walk Cycle Festival, award-winning Travel with Tots, Social Rides, cheese and wine Bike Maintenance, the Walking Book Group, and Cycling Without Age Rides. And we helped improve 8 York public spaces, with 5 murals on greenway routes across the city, a trial on-street parklet on Micklegate and grass labyrinths in the Museum Gardens and Rowntree Park.

Why not have a read of the York Bike Belles Impact Report 2017 – 2018? The next survey and full Impact Report for the last 3 years is due out in July 2020. This will help inform the development of our new five-year York Bike Belles Strategy, 2021 – 2026. More soon!

Our activities

We offer an integrated programme of regular cycling and walking activities, communications and volunteer training and support, all year round. You can enter the programme at any point by engaging with us online or joining an activity, and move from one activity to another as suits you. We guarantee you will steadily increase your confidence, knowledge and skills to enjoy walking and cycling, and life, more!

All our current activities are at https://yorkbikebelles.community/events/. Activities for the next month are posted on the home page, with usually also a Facebook event at least a week before the activity.

We run popular community social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We share local, national and international news and stories around walking and cycling culture, including well-being, community life, sustainable and car lite living, cities for people, nature, trees, green routes and spaces, and more! We welcome respectful online contact, and love interaction and sharing from others.

Our work and activities are underpinned by the values of independence, respect and equality, compassion, inclusion, positive action and cooperation.

In addition, sustainability is at the heart of what we do. We ensure our work has as low an environmental impact as possible and enhances the natural world where we can. We walk or cycle during the course of our work. We source local staff, suppliers, contractors and products with sustainable principles.

Our organisation

We are led by a board of 6 Directors, who are local volunteers from all walks of life – people passionate about increasing everyday walking and cycling in York. We are committed to continue our most popular activities free of charge to the local community where we can.

We have a core delivery team of 2 paid staff and 30 active community volunteers, who are all trained where necessary in cycle training, ride and walk leading, bike mechanics, first aid, engagement methods and safeguarding. We pride ourselves in making all our activities safe, sociable, supportive, of excellent quality and, above all, fun!

We reduce inequalities by reaching out to people in groupings currently under-represented in walking and cycling, including women and girls, parents with young children, those over 55 and those with low well-being. We focus on supporting people into everyday walking and cycling for independent transport, and encourage going ‘car-lite’, and perhaps, ultimately, car-free. Our work is based on what is needed in the York community and society at a whole, and is dynamic, developing in response to feedback and what is happening in our community and the wider world.

We continually look for opportunities to be creative and innovative. We connect people with nature and promote, protect and enhance nature as an integral part of our practice. We explore ways to improve York’s public spaces and routes so they are better places for people who walk and cycle, with less traffic, and more trees, plants, and wildlife.

We work strategically across the city and are a well-connected part of York’s community network, working cooperatively with multiple partners. We work in particular to encourage an inclusive approach to city mobility and keep York’s paths and linked green spaces safe, accessible, and constantly being improved. Our Programme Manager has over 15 years experience as a sustainable transport and behaviour change professional and facilitated York’s independent Walk Cycle Forum between 2017 and 2019. We support the collective Walk Cycle Vision for York that emerged from this Forum. Our community volunteering work forms part of York’s international Cities of Service Coalition.

We are most grateful to current funding from Sport England to deliver Cake Confidence until April 2021. We are currently looking for funding to restart our Cycling Without Age Rides, and also for help with our core unfunded costs. If you are able to support us, please click on the link above to go to our Givey donation page, new as of July 2020. Thank you in advance 🙂

We incorporated as a Community Interest Company on 18 February 2020, Company Number 12470154. You can see all our Community Interest Company information filed online at Companies House – important documents include our Constitution and Community Interest Benefit Statement.

National recognition

In 2016, York Bike Belles #travelwithtots work won a national award for Excellence in Cycling from Modeshift.

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In 2017, we featured as a “Story for Change” in the ground-breaking 2017 Zero Carbon Britain report.

In 2018, we gave a presentation in the House of Commons to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) about good practice in women and cycling.

In 2019, we were chosen to feature as a good practice project in Public Health England’s case study for York (part of the “Everybody Active Every Day” framework). And we featured in a summer 2019 exhibit at the Eden Project as an example of a “Guardian of the Future – passionate people and projects making a real difference to the global climate”.

Volunteers!

We are always looking for community volunteers to help with our work, whether walk and ride leading, Cycling Without Age rides, Cake Confidence or with Stories. Check out www.yorkbikebelles.community/join-the-team for more info and email yorkbikebelles@gmail.com if you would like to become part of our friendly team.