Cycling and swimming for all
Posted: Fri, 05 Jun 2020 13:46
Active Oxfordshire's Josh Lenthall on the vital importance of universal access to cycling and swimming for everyone in our community.
We firmly believe that the ability to swim can not only save someone's life but can also provide a lifelong activity enjoyed by all generations.
We also know that cycling can sometimes be seen as an exclusive activity for "Middle Aged Men In Lycra" (MAMILs). However, around 25% of those working in Oxford arrive by bike and do so in suits, jeans, t shirts, trainers and just about every material other than lycra. The humble bicycle can help someone get to work, school, college or social events. Looking to the wonderful example of Pedal and Post the bicycle can also deliver your packages, fruit and veg and even medical supplies.
Given the importance of these activities to give people enjoyment, safety and freedom, is it right that disadvantaged children face many barriers to being able to cycle and swim? And that only 30% of children in certain parts of Oxford can swim?
Enough doom and gloom
Whilst barriers are plentiful and frustrating (finance, lack of confidence, finding your way around by bike to name a few) solutions are abundant and there is certainly cause for optimism.
Cherwell District Council have been successful in engaging families facing barriers to being active, including swimming, and have implemented the FAST (Families Active and Sporty Together) https://www.cherwell.gov.uk/info/3/leisure-and-culture/107/be-active-more-often/2 to great effect.
Oxford City Council and Fusion Leisure provide free swimming sessions for Under 17s and Wheels for All Oxford provide inclusive cycling opportunities in Horspath.
We've seen first-hand the power of our cycling community with the launch of the Bikes for Key Workers scheme. Trailblazed by Windrush Bike Project in Witney and followed by Cyclox, Broken Spoke Bike Co-op, local authorities, an army of volunteers and Active Oxfordshire, 400 keyworkers have been referred to the scheme to receive a newly refurbished bike that will allow them to get to work.
Ready Set Go
It's clear that there is a huge amount of enthusiasm, expertise and community spirit to draw upon to give every child in Oxford, and their families, the opportunity to cycle and swim. If, as a community, we align to the simple ambition that every child should be able to swim and cycle we can join up our skills and expertise and achieve a much greater outcome than the sum of our parts.
The good news is that we know that this approach already works. Our collective response to Covid-19 has surely been far greater than any of us could muster alone.
In addition, we have been working alongside Oxford Hub, Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council and British Cycling to provide bikes to some of our most vulnerable families. Bikes lovingly restored to their former glory by students at TRAX who earn a vocational qualification in the process. Here's what people benefiting had to say:
"It has helped him orientate to Oxford and explore his new surroundings. It is his main form of transport and this has become important to him. He enjoys cycling around Oxford"
"The children absolutely LOVE them!"
Wouldn't it be great to have more examples like this?
By working together, we believe that we can get every child to the start line and set them on their way to a lifetime of being active, safe and feeling free.
If you would like to join us at the start line and want to support our ambition, get in touch