Promoting wellbeing, breaking down barriers, cutting carbon and improving air quality locally

In response to COVID, Hubbub decided to invest more heavily in campaigns that delivered social and health, as well as environmental, benefits. We sought to partner with diverse groups not typically reached by the environmental movement. One of these campaigns was with Cycle Sisters, an award-winning organisation that inspires and enables Muslim women to cycle.            

The rationale for this campaign was a Sustrans' ’Bike Life’ survey suggesting that 55% of people from ethnic minority groups who did not currently cycle would like to start and 36% of women who do not cycle would also like to give it a go. Data for Tower Hamlets shows currently, only 6% of women versus 16% of men cycle at least once a week. 

We wished to explore whether a partnership with an authentic, trusted group embedded within the community could increase the take-up of cycling, promoting wellbeing, cutting carbon emissions and improving local air quality.

Identifying barriers to create new opportunities

The partnership set out to explore the level of interest that Muslim women have in cycling, to identify barriers and to create new opportunities for women to use cycling as a form of transport. Insight revealed that safety, confidence and lack of bike storage were amongst the top barriers to increased cycling rates.

To overcome these barriers a new community-based ‘cycle hub’ has been launched in Poplar, Tower Hamlets. The Hub has been created through a partnership of housing association Poplar Harca, the cycling charity Sustrans and Hubbub.

Guided rides, disco bikes, free repairs and more

An empty high street shop has been transformed into a cycle hub lending out kid and adult bikes for free, alongside cycling accessories. In addition to the bike loans, the centre also provides cycling advice, guided rides, free repairs, and even a chance to try out a disco bike. Find out more about Chrisp Street Community Cycle Hub here. 

The unique element about the campaign is that it has been created through extensive engagement with Muslim women in the area. This has already started to break down some of the cultural barriers that have prevented more women from taking up cycling. The hub also aims to address a key barrier which is lack of access to bikes and suitable safe storage in what is the second most densely populated area in the UK.

If successful, the campaign will assist in the government’s aim for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030, as recently set out in the Decarbonising Transport report.

Scaling impact

From Hubbub’s perspective, results from the trial will be used to inform our development of our strategy. If we believe that the approach delivers impact and that there is a niche for Hubbub to make a unique and significant difference, we will explore the potential of a creative and collaborative partnership to extend the idea to other areas.

This may use a similar model to that which has led to the Community Fridge Network which currently supports over 150 local groups. We would be intrigued to hear what you think of the concept, whether you believe there is a role for Hubbub in expanding the idea and, if yes, if you would like to get involved. Please us know by emailing [email protected]