Life Cycle: Transforming lives and the environment for nearly 20 years
30th May 2015
Poppy Brett, Chief Executive of Life Cycle and member of the Partnership Transport Project Group, shares her thoughts on promoting behaviour change and continuing Bristol’s fine tradition of grassroots recycling:
Life Cycle is a Bristol-born cycling charity that has been working for nearly 20 years to transform lives and the environment through cycling. We are passionate about the bicycle and the role it has to play in both creating more sustainable cities and improving people’s lives.
Life Cycle isn’t here to find the next Bradley Wiggins or Laura Trott, we are here to help normalise cycling and to give people the confidence to make short, local trips by bike – particularly the trips that are too far to walk but too close to drive; the trips that have greatest impact on our environment; the trips that society has the most to gain from moving away from.
Our work is best described as promoting behaviour change – all of our projects and services offer practical support to help more people to cycle, but we particularly target those who aren’t natural cyclists, or who need extra help to get going.
People come to us for cycle training, advice and support for a number of reasons: to improve their health and fitness, start cycling to work, reduce their transport costs or gain the confidence to go cycling with their children. However, there are many other triggers – and no matter what people’s motivation for taking up cycling we are here to help. Members of our “Over-55’s” cycling group, for example, join our rides because they value the social aspects of riding in the company of likeminded people, as well as the sense of confidence they get from riding in a group. Others join our “Bike Minded” group, which provides company, exercise and opportunities to get out of the city to enjoy nature, as a way to manage their mental wellbeing.
Life Cycle is also doing our bit to continue Bristol’s fine tradition of grassroots recycling: our “Bike Back” project collects donations of unwanted bikes and gives them a new lease of life with the help of prisoners at HMP Bristol. Our maintenance workshop provides meaningful occupation to 7 inmates at a time: by refurbishing bikes, they gain skills and qualifications designed to help them gain employment after release. The refurbished bikes are then sold at affordable prices to help more people on low incomes access a bike and get cycling – a virtuous circle.
Across our projects, our monitoring and feedback shows time and again that our support is enabling people to live happier, healthier and more sustainable lives: people who access Life Cycle’s services use their bikes for local journeys more, exercise more, socialise more - and visit their GP less.
In Bristol and other large UK cities cycling is on the up and this bodes well for the future. Here at Life Cycle we have no doubt that cycling will continue to grow and play and ever more important part in creating a sustainable future – and we are feeling very positive about it!