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Deputy Mayor cycles for the first time

14 November 2023

Having never ridden a bike before, Southwark Council’s Deputy Mayor Naima Ali is now learning to cycle.

She is taking part in free cycle training sessions being run by the council as part of the Streets for People initiative, which sets out plans to improve air quality, by moving away from favouring cars to free up more space for walking, cycling, and public transport.

Cllr Naima Ali said: “I never had the opportunity to learn or ride a bicycle as a child; walking was our main way of getting around. There was also stigma surrounding women cycling, driven by largely conservative views. I want to break the taboos, empower and encourage other women in the community to know it’s possible.

“At first I was scared and doubted if I could even balance while cycling but surprisingly within the first 30mins I was able to peddle and ride a bit. I felt free and exhilarated. I did enjoy my first session and have booked myself onto some more - I can’t wait to see myself riding around Southwark.”

Over 1800 people have taken part in cycle training in Southwark since July. Sessions are funded by the council, and run by local charity Joy Riders, for individuals and families, as well as special sessions for women. Attendees can borrow a bike, gain confidence and learn to ride safely with qualified instructors.

Cllr James McAsh, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Clean Air and Streets, said: “We know that more people want to cycle but aren’t confident enough so this training has been set up specifically for them. They’re ideal for people who are new to cycling, or those who rode a bike when they were younger and want to get back into cycling.

“Our Streets for People strategy sets out a bold vision and a firm commitment to improve our residents’ quality of life and take action on climate change, by changing how we all travel and use streets in our borough. Streets for People supports cleaner air; safer and quieter streets with less traffic and fewer accidents and healthy travel options like walking, cycling or wheeling.”

As part of Streets for People, the council is asking residents about the changes they would like to see in their neighbourhoods, such as cycle hangars, e-bike parking, cycle stands, more trees, green spaces, seating, or more space to play and socialise in. Click here to complete the survey


Page last updated: 14 November 2023

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