Life Cycle UK is a Bristol based charity which helps people take up cycling as a way to bring about social and environmental change. Since 1999 we have been running a range of practical projects and services that overcome barriers to cycling.

We provide cycle skills training for hundreds of adults and children every year running around 600 sessions in 2010 alone. Our courses lay the groundwork for a sustained shift away from car use, helping people to develop the skills, confidence and judgment they need to cycle safely.We are also one of a select number of UK organisations that provides Cycle Instructor training, thereby providing the basis for an increase in cycling take-up in areas beyond our own reach.

We run low cost Dr Bike surgeries at community events, where people canbringtheirbroken or neglected bikes for minor repairs and advice to help them get back in the saddle. We also run beginners and advanced bicycle maintenance courses, empowering individuals with the knowledge and confidence to keep their bicycles rolling safely on the roads themselves.Our Take a Stand scheme helps to build cycling infrastructure, providing small businesses and community groups with free cycle parking stands.

What really sets Life Cycle apart is our dedication to helping the most disadvantaged in society to enjoy the benefits that come from cycling. We have developed various inclusive cycling projects to ensure we are reaching out and involving vulnerable members of society.

Bike Minded is our project aimed at getting those with mental health issues cycling. There is the Silver Cyclists scheme which aims to encourage older people (that’s over 55’s in this case) to cycle by providing a program of gentle supported group rides around Bristol and our Bike Generation project gives young people the chance to earn their own bike by committing to voluntary work.

BikeBack is a bike recycling project with a difference: unloved and unwanted bikes are donated to the project by members of the public. These are then refurbished by inmates at Bristol Prison, under the supervision of professional mechanics. The project gives prisoners a constructive way to spend their time, whilst also helping to provide them with meaningful skills and qualifications for the future. Those who participate in the project earn themselves a free bike upon their release; surplus bikes are then sold to the public at affordable prices to encourage more people to start cycling.

Two’s Company is a tandem project which gives disabled, blind and visually impaired individuals opportunities to get out, take exercise, and experience a sense of freedom by coming cycling on the back of a tandem. With around 25 group rides a year; a typical ride has up to eight tandems, each with a sighted person at the front and a visually impaired/disabled co-rider behind. Anyone unable to ride a bike independently is welcometo come along and get involved: we cater for complete beginners through toexperienced riders, and all ages. All rides are free of charge.For our participants, tandem rides are more than just a cycle ride. They are a chance to meet new people and have a day out with a cafe stop, laughter, fun, a shared sense of adventure and, in one participants words, “to feel normal”. They bring disabled and able-bodied people together helping to reduce isolation and loneliness and they provide valuable opportunities to exercise:

“After losing my sight in a horrific car crash I never thought I’d be able to ride a bike. It’s so lovely to feel the wind in your face and the sunshine when its about. It’s also a lovely sense of achievement when you hear the mileage you have covered. Come rain, come shine it is just a great feeling to be out in the fresh air and doing something enjoyable and healthy for oneself, even if we do stop at a pub for lunch!” Jenny.

Life Cycles greatest strength is our ability to develop innovative, people focussed, practical services, which successfully inspire and enthuse people and give them the confidence to use bikes as a mode of transport. But like most charities, we rely heavily on the fantastic work of our volunteers and donations from the public. If youre in the South West of England and would like to get involved then please get in touch!

Our website is: www.lifecycleuk.org.uk

Twitter: @lifecycleukteam

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/nN2orz

To donate to this great cause visit: http://www.justgiving.com/lifecycleuk/

We’re currently trying to win 6000 in funding from Natwest Community Force and really need peoples votes, to vote for us visit:http://communityforce.natwest.com/project/124