Blane Valley Bikes is a Cycling Advocacy Social Enterprise start up based in Strathblane, Stirling, United Kingdom & Blanefield, Stirling, United Kingdom aimed at improving inclusion and participation in safer cycling for children and adults of all ages living in and around the Strathblane Community.
As a Social Enterprise it operates as a business but invests profits back into the community. This structure will help to ensure the project can grow as a business where, rather than simply profit being the primary motive, delivering successful and sustainable projects that benefit the community is seen as the main priority. Through engaging with the Strathblane Community Development Trust (an established limited company and charity) the business can apply for additional grant funding and establish start up funds to promote, launch and sustainably grow the project through its first phase.
A central project aim is to undertake initiatives to raise awareness, develop skills and increase safety for all road users in the community through providing training and workshops on cycling proficiency, road safety skills, bike maintenance /repair as well as guided bike rides delivered by trained Cycle Ride Leaders. This also includes supporting the Community Council’s ongoing campaign for increased road safety through permanent and effective traffic calming measures, including the ’20s Plenty for Strathblane’ campaign.
A well established community concern affecting cyclists, walkers and pedestrians on the local roads and paths are the illegal speeds which cars travel through the region, and endanger not only other road users but all of the families and individuals living in the community. Parents of school children are keen for them to commute to school by bike but are afraid of cars on busy roads; Strathblane Primary School pupils have tried repeatedly to engage with the council and police to address this issue, and Balfron High’s limited facilities are in need of much improvement.
To reduce car use, promote a healthier diet and support local businesses and producers, Blane Valley Bikes plans to run a pilot local food sharing and parcel collect/delivery scheme by purchasing an insulated cargo bike. A successful Food Sharing scheme exists in Edinburgh and has been extended to Glasgow, as well as the Fare Share scheme in Central Scotland. This will offer local people experiencing disadvantage, isolation, poverty or homelessness the chance to enjoy a tasty, healthy home-cooked meal made using still-fresh ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted.
To specifically help increase participation in cycling among the elderly and less-abled residents living in Blanefield, Blane Valley Bikes plans to become a Cycling Without Age affiliate and train volunteers to pilot trishaws and offer free short bike rides. Blanefield Care Home and residential home visit service providers will be approached to promote involvement in the scheme.
To help raise awareness of the project Blane Valley Bikes aims to run a series of short prelaunch popup events in the local Edmonstone Hall, situated in the centre of Strathblane and ideally located for car-free access to trails and paths. Dates have been provisionally booked to coincide with a number of high-profile local events who we will approach to help promote the project, including Mugstock Festival, Glasgow 2018 (European Championships Men’s Time Trial comes to a car-free Strathblane on Wed 8th August) and The Dukes Weekender in September.
Edmonstone Hall will offer locals and visitors the chance to share ideas, ask questions and discuss proposed future plans for the start up. We will also have coffee, cake and takeaway food for sale, a demonstration of Zwift virtual cycling, unused/in-need-of-repair bike donations/loans, test bikes, bike trailers, child seats, bike jetwash, bike parts/clothing/accessories swap shop and bike maintenance stands for quick repairs. Local businesses are being approached to gain support and resources for the events
The main launch event is planned for Wednesday 8th August, coinciding with the Glasgow 2018 European Time Trial which is estimated to attract a huge European viewership and significantly more visitors to Strathblane, Glasgow and Scotland. The village and surrounding roads will be closed with no cars so local residents and tourists will be walking and cycling on the traffic-free roads, offering an ideal opportunity to meet us and find out about and offer support for the Blane Valley Bikes initiative.
Blane Valley Bikes has approached Glasgow 2018 for a promotional event pack and will recruit local volunteers to help distribute and display the materials throughout the village, plus arrange watching and supporting all events taking place during Glasgow 2018 and other cycling-related events. We’ve also applied for a community grant from Cycling Scotland and we’re in the process of applying for additional relevant funding from councils, businesses and enterprise agencies.