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Inclusive Cycling and Access to a Bike

By RGrant 25 Mar 2021

Week 1 of the University’s Strava Club March challenge is complete and what great results! The total distance target for the week was surpassed, with 15 kilometres to spare, at 976.36k. The target for week 2 is 1,049.35km: if achieved, this would be the first time the club goes over 1,000 km in a week since its launch back in January.

Looking at the data from last week’s activities, most of the activities are runs or walks and only a few are rides. This might be for a variety of reasons –  perhaps Strava is just not as popular among RGU cyclists or we have not reached out to them as much – but perhaps it might also have to do with the fact that you don’t need any equipment other than a good pair of shoes to walk/run. It also may feel like cycling can only be for a few experienced or daring people. This is not the case – there are many different reasons one may cycle, be it for leisure, sport, commute, or general transport – but I understand that it might feel like that. 

In this post, I thought I’d focus on two things. First, a series of talks about inclusivity in cycling happening this week that could change your perspective on cycling and empower you to overcome barriers. Secondly, and if the talks have convinced you to give cycling a try, ways you can obtain a bike, and one that might be appropriate to your needs, at that.

Switching Gears Festival

The “Switching Gears Festival:  conversation around inclusive cycling” is a series of sessions happening between March 22-26 which will be focused on how cycling can become more inclusive and accessible to all. It’s an initiative launched by a collaboration of all Campus Cycling Officers across Scotland, it’s fully online and, though focused on the higher and further education sector, free for all to join. As CCOs, a role that in normal times would have been focused on in-person events to promote behavioural change, we decided to hold the Festival as a Covid-safe alternative. In doing so, we also see this initiative as a way to empower people by letting them know about opportunities available for cycling, as well as by letting them know what they can do to help others. The list of speakers at the Festival is still growing, with speakers from Sustrans, Scottish Disability Sport, FABB’s Blazing Saddles and the authors of Gears for Queers already confirmed. More information on speakers and tickets are available via Eventbrite and additional sessions will be announced shortly – follow the Festival social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.


Bike Access

If you have decided to start cycling, the first thing you’ll need to get into cycling is - well, a bike! Depending on what you do (e.g. do you study, or do you work at RGU?) and your needs, different option are available.

  1. BikePad is an RGU student-led bike hire scheme at Woolmanhill Flats and it is available to both students and staff. You can hire a bike for a semester or a full year for £20/£40 respectively + a £40 deposit which you of course get back if the bike is returned in good conditions. Throughout the year you can access tools and help at the workshop to maintain your bike. All the essentials (helmet, lights, lock, hi-vis jacket) are included in the hire. If you already have a bike but it needs some repairs, BikePad can still carry these out and you can get up to £50 worth of repair free via the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme (till end of May 2021).
  2. Energy Saving Trust’s eBike Loan is an interest-free loan that can be used to purchase e-bikes, cargo and e-cargo bikes and adapted cycles. The closing date for new applications is Sunday 14 March 2021, though it’s usually repeated year-on-year. 
  3.  Cycle to Work is an option available to RGU employees to purchase a new bike (including e-bikes and adapted bikes) and save a percentage of the overall costs. Cycling accessories can also be included as part of the purchase.
  4. Of course, there also are many cycling shops within Aberdeen that can cater to different budgets and types of bike. If you decide to go down this route – I suggest checking whether it’s possible to have a test ride before buying, so that you know if the bike would work well for you.

As always, if you have any questions or need further clarification, feel free to email Nicolo Silvani (


University Strava Club 

Switching Gear Festival Events

Energy Saving Trust E-bike Loan 

By Nicolo Silvani, Campus Cycling Officer

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