Everyone in West Lothian is invited to join ‘Love to Ride West Lothian’, a fun, free, community platform which supports riders new and regular to cycle.
Since the first lockdown last year, thousands of people have rediscovered the joys and benefits of cycling. The good news is that £1.3m was spent up to March 2021 within West Lothian* constructing and developing projects that will improve the cycle path network, and provide key links connecting communities and encourage active travel. A further 9 projects are planned to build on those foundations,
£1.3m was spent up to March 2021 within West Lothian* constructing and developing projects that will improve the cycle path network
The main project is the construction of the Armadale to Whitburn Cycleway and although its start was delayed from March 2020 to July 2020, it is progressing well and is programmed to be completed this spring. Designs are being developed on nine other projects in Bathgate, Blackburn, Linlithgow, Stoneyburn and Whitburn.
In West Lothian, several organisations offer fantastic services to help you start cycling :
The Bike Library, based in Livingston,has had a busy year. David, the Centre Manager, said, “It’s been an incredibly busy year for us. The Bike Library has provided 82 key workers with free bike loans; delivered 42 Bikeability sessions to the 3 Summer School Hubs; provided bikes and adapted bikes to the Child Disability Service at Inveralmond; and had a hugely successful Children’s Bike Sale last November.”
First Step Development in Linlithgow have repaired or donated over 100 bikes to key workers and people struggling with physical and or mental health during lockdowns. Maria, Development Manager, said, “We really hope this small gesture will help key workers support others and enable people that are struggling to stay safe and well." Rachel Wackett, who benefitted from the scheme, said, “I'm thrilled with my new bike. I am using it for travelling to and from work and for health benefits. I work in a local pharmacy and I'm so delighted by the patience and understanding from the local community. It's been a struggle but we are all in this together.”
Local schools have been promoting cycling too. In December 2020, Sustrans ran a ‘Leg it to Lapland Challenge’. Nine schools joined the challenge to travel the (virtual) 2,400 miles from Central Scotland to Santa in Lapland. 45,593 miles were clocked up - a fantastic achievement attributed to the huge amount of dedication and effort pupils and staff put into the challenge.
So many people took to pedal power last year that many bike shops, including Andy’s Bike Clinic in Linlithgow, struggled to keep up with demand. Andy says, “During 2020 I completed work for over three hundred happy customers, many of whom were key workers. Despite a very difficult year for all concerned, and challenges securing stock, I’m looking forward to providing more excellent service in 2021”.
With so much happening to help people take up cycling in West Lothian, it’s no surprise that since launching, the local Love to Ride community has clocked up over a million miles. 905 people have signed up, including 232 new riders. Angus Rodney, the local Project Manager for Love to Ride, says, “It’s been great to see so many people getting out on their bikes. Cycling is great for maintaining social distancing, it frees up space on the roads and public transport for key workers and people who can’t cycle. And it protects our NHS by keeping us physically and mentally fit and healthy’
Love to Ride West Lothian run a year-round calendar of events with 4 main seasonal interventions to support people to cycle
Love to Ride West Lothian run a year-round calendar of events with 4 main seasonal interventions to support people to cycle. Angus says, “We’re inviting everyone to join us so we can ride this out together. We’ll be sharing the many benefits of cycling - for physical and mental health, for the environment - and the fun and freedom that is so easily accessible when we ride a bike. It doesn’t matter if it’s for fun, fitness or transport - all rides count, and you don’t have to go far or fast. We want everyone to experience the joy of cycling. There are loads of cycling and non-cycling related prizes to tempt people too!”
It’s free and easy to sign up on the Love to Ride website at lovetoride.net/westlothian and all registrants will receive relevant information about local cycling services. There will be events in June, September and December to encourage people to keep up the habit and help their friends, family and colleagues to try cycling.
Cycling for a Health
A Glasgow University study shows that cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease. Before coronavirus, cycling was already increasing across Scotland. 145 million trips were undertaken on the Walking and Cycling Network in 2019, with users spending almost £2 billion in the local economy and supporting 27,500 jobs.
Reduced car travel is estimated to have contributed a further £108 million through improvements in public health.
Love to Ride are working in partnership with West Lothian Council to build a friendly and supportive online cycling community for the area and help more people to discover the joys and benefits of cycling.
*The projects are being supported through grants from Sustrans (Scotland) Places for Everyone funding and the Scottish Governments’ Cycling Walking and Safer Streets funding.
Published in Konect April 2021
Author: Love to Ride West Lothian.