Cycling’s big Sheffield spin-off

Cyclists in Sheffield city centre

Cyclists in Sheffield city centre

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MORE cyclists are taking to the streets of Sheffield in the slipstream of national success on the road and track.

Local campaign groups report an rise of at least 10% in numbers of riders fuelled by Bradley Wiggins’ victory in the Tour de France and Olympic gold medals for UK cyclists.

Meanwhile, cycle training organisations are fielding an increase in inquiries of up to 20%, and bike shops are seeing more business, especially from families.

Despite the hills, Sheffield is taking increasingly to the bike on the back of a doubling in cycling over the last ten years.

Campaign groups can be expected to point to the latest upsurge in continuing to press the council to make the going easier and safer for riders on some main roads.

The Tour de France was the starting point for the recent boom in recreational and commuter cycling. Rutland Cycling Club members have noted a significant increase since Bradley Wiggins pedalled to victory.

Meanwhile, Simon Geller, of campaign group cycleSheffield, said: “I’ve seen at least a 10% increase of cyclists on the road over the last month during my daily ride to work, and there’s been a similar increase in bike parking.

“We’ve seen an increase in membership, and there’s been a huge buzz on Twitter and Facebook with people talking about cycling and asking questions about how to get started.”

Cycle training co-operative Pedal Ready has recorded a rise in inquiries of between 15% and 20% since the Tour, and it is running more ‘learn to ride’ sessions for adults, at Sharrow Community Forum, the Northern General Hospital and in Rotherham to cope with demand.

They range from pensioners in their 70s and 80s to young mums who want to learn to ride with their kids. People are so keen they turn up in all weathers – six in torrential rain on one occasion – and even Muslim mothers during Ramadan.

Beginners’ sessions in parks are increasingly popular, and some of the sessions of the council-run ‘Bike Boost’ project, which loans cycles and helps with training at companies and community groups, are oversubscribed.

One of the aims is to try to ensure there is no increase in numbers of injuries to coincide with the increase in the number of cyclists.

Paul Allard, of Recycle Bikes in Heeley, said: “The weather is often the most important factor for bike shops like us, but people in the trade are expecting the buzz from the Tour de France and the Olympics to bring business in after the bad summer we’ve had up until recently.

“I also think it will have a long term effect now that the general public know about cyclists like Bradley Wiggins, so it should lead to more cycling in the future.

“For us the interest has been from families, where the kids have been watching cycling on the telly and the whole family have come in to get their bikes sorted out as a result.”

Bike enthusiasts point to the financial and health and fitness benefits of using two wheels - and they are urging the council to improve safety on some arterial routes and at blackspots such as Brook Hill roundabout, which emerged as one of the most dangerous junctions in the country.