Team shows getting on your bike really works

Transition Rutland volunteers from left: Nick Goodman, Karl Egan, Sarah Hooper, Emma Trahearn and Jonathan Ward

Transition Rutland volunteers from left: Nick Goodman, Karl Egan, Sarah Hooper, Emma Trahearn and Jonathan Ward

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GONE are the days when people cycled into towns to visit the markets and buy their groceries using pedal power and them home in a basket on the front of their bicycles. Or are they?

A team of volunteers has set out to promote sustainable transport in Rutland, and in the last six months has increased the number of bicycles on the road in Oakham though confidence training and free bike servicing.

Transition Rutland was started as part of the Transition Towns network that is sweeping the nation.

The aim is to create sustainable communities by promoting local produce, recycling and using less fossil fuels.

Spokesman Nick Goodman said: “All across the country, towns have been taking up projects and it could be food or recycling, but the bike project is ours.

“It’s something that we talked about a lot, but when you have a project like this one and start actually doing stuff it goes beyond a conversation.”

Transition Rutland had funded its project through a £2,400 grant from Communities Cutting Carbon but is now running out of money and looking towards other options to keep the work that they are doing going.

Chairman Jonathan Ward said: “In the future we’re hoping to put three maps around Oakham of the cycling routes and where you can lock up bikes.

“Rutland County Council has applied for a grant to improve cycle routes in the county so that will be a real boost.”

In April, Transition Rutland held its first community bike ride where about 30 people cycled a three-mile route from Oakham to Egleton and back.

Jonathan said: “I saw a lot of people noticing us when we were cycling in a group during the community bike ride and wondering what was going on.

“So many people we have spoken to have not been out on a bike for years and have forgotten how much fun it is, and it’s good for the environment too.”

One of the ways the group is encouraging people to get out on their bikes is by providing confidence training.

Jonathan said: “People are put off by the threat of traffic and unfortunately there are sometimes accidents, but the more people who are out on their bikes, the less traffic is on the roads and the more drivers get used to cyclists being there.”

Transition Rutland has worked with Rutland County Council, Leicestershire Police, the Velo Club of Rutland, Out of the Rut and Rutland Cycling to promote cycling and events.

The police have done free bike coding and Out of the Rut, which is based in Church Passage, Oakham, does repairs and sell second hand bikes.

Nick said: “Since we started in about August last year, 120 bikes have been fixed up and six people have completed a confidence training course.

“About 250 people came to our stall outside Tesco in March and took away magazines and leaflets about safety.”

In the future the group is looking to start a new project based around food. Jonathan said: “We are looking at creating a sticker to put on foods that have been produced in Rutland so that people know it is from here and hasn’t travelled far.

“The point of Transition Rutland is to create a sustainable community and taking action.”