Cash boost in push to get city on its bike

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CYCLING in Sheffield is to be given a big push.

A £325,000 Government-backed project over three years will encourage people on the north-east side of the city, including Parson Cross, Shiregreen and Fox Hill, to cycle to work.

As well as offering cycle training, residents and employees in the area will have the chance to borrow a bike and equipment for up to six weeks.

Then they will have the option to buy it at a discounted rate and to take advantage of discounted maintenance courses, free cycle safety checks and bike recycling schemes.

Cycle training will be aimed at older teenagers and adults, and can be done individually, in groups, or with the family.

The city’s professional cycling co-operative, Pedal Ready, said this week it can now more than double the number of people it helps to ride more safely as a result of the grant from the Department of Transport, which is being given through the council to give extra support to the low-paid and high unemployment areas.

With petrol prices rocketing, Pedal Ready, which has a team of 35 professional instructors, hopes people will take the chance to pedal to work “on the quickest, cheapest (and most fun) rush hour transport”.

Already it offers one-to-one training in how to deal with modern road conditions, as well as working with local schools.

“We’ve helped over 1,500 people (one-to-one) so far and the grant won by Sheffield Council will enable us to work with many more,” said Nick Brelsford, of Pedal Ready.

“The ‘traffic taming’ sessions show you how to ride the road so drivers notice you and give you space, and they really work. That’s why this kind of cycle craft training is increasingly being offered all over the country.”

The Government has found that national standard training reduces the likelihood of a cycling injury on the roads by two to three times.

Nick added: “We know people want to cycle more to improve their health, to save money and to have fun on their commute to work.

“But we also know many people are nervous of taking that first pedal into Sheffield traffic. We can show how to feel safe on your bike, by working with drivers rather than hiding from them. We’ve helped everyone from pensioners to regular commuters who want to learn the best road skills. If you’re a cyclist, or a wannabe cyclist, we say you can banish your fear for free, so what have you got to lose?”

Pedal Ready will continue to provide cycle training across the city. Meanwhile, Heeley Development Trust is due to be given the contract for the bike recycling and maintenance under the Government scheme.