A cycling hub in the city is reaching out to people of all ages to learn how to ride a bike.

It’s part of larger work to promote cycling education in Carlisle run by Carlisle Cycle Hub.

Called ‘First Wheels’, the pilot hopes to reach out to people who found cycling inaccessible and participate in active travel.

The group is also teaching people under the Pedrin Way, a style of bike-riding education called that promise to get people the skills they need to teach their child how to ride a bike in five minutes.

The hub’s work also aims to stop the overuse of stabilisers, or training wheels, that can make it harder to learn how to properly ride a bike using one’s own internal balance.

One major way to break barriers to cycling that the hub is using is simply loaning bikes out to less financially secure families, as hub secretary Lance Greenhalgh explained could last as long as a year until the bike is returned.

The cost of bikes has risen and has become more inaccessible for parents to buy for their children, thus a generation of people would not have the skills that previous generations of children had if not for the help of the hub.

Mr Greenhalgh said that at a recent cycling proficiency session at a Carlisle school, only five children could do it because they’ve never been given a bike of their own, but elsewhere in the city it was less of an issue.

Another factor is that roads have become less appropriate for cyclists as motorists dominate.

“I’m 77 and have been riding for 70 years, it’s not done me any harm, I was cycling the Himalayas six years ago, and there are enormous health benefits, but here’s the downside and we try to get round this – if I was seven again when not many people drove cars, it was easy, but today’s motorists don’t give a damn about cyclists,” Mr Greenhalgh explained.

Therefore, new cyclists are shown popular routes off the major roads and on cycle paths, which are more scarce in Carlisle than other UK areas, but the hub believes the future is bright.

Part of the hub’s role is developing better cycling infrastructure policy with government through the council’s Active Travel scheme.

“Carlisle has a tough job on (to improve cycling infrastructure),” he explained.

Cycle lanes in areas like Eden Bridge are particularly troubling as parts of the lane are obstructed by lampposts.

Other issues include topology as steep inclines on roads are difficult for newcomers and casual riders to traverse.

But the hub is positive that this can be improved, and they’ve been making strides with the government to raise issues and the prominence of cycling provisions in the area.

Such talks have concerned the new garden village and ways it could be modelled to make it easier to ride bikes.

However the long-standing economic issues that affect the nation have remained - with Lance citing a rough 30 per cent increase in the cost of new bikes since Covid. 

This is something the hub’s Rebike scheme, which refurbishes old bikes and sells them for a fraction of the cost of a new one, aims to curb.

While this offers immediate bike ownership, a separate scheme to loan bikes for educational use is also prominent and recently gave asylum seekers in the city more freedom to move.

Although most people learned how to ride at an early age, there are adults who don’t have the skill and may be hesitant to learn due to embarrassment, but the loan scheme can help this.

“We don’t see adults very often (coming to learn), I wish we could get more,“ Lance said.

“It’s not always easy, but this is the first time we’ve actually gone out and looked for people who can’t ride a bike.”

For more information, visit the organisation's website by clicking here, or their public group on Facebook - Rebike Community Cycle Hub.

The hub is also putting on a social ride called Tour de Carlisle, meeting at Bitts Park car park at 10am on March 2, all who can ride comfortable for one hour at a leisurely pace welcome.