Labour city councillor for Blackbird Leys Imade Edosomwan and Annette Pattinson of Joyriders highlight RIDE!, a community initiative to get more people riding bikes.

“BEFORE March, I’d never ridden a bike, and now I don’t want to go anywhere without one.”

Hassan Sabrie is one of the Directors of Oxford Community Action, a community organisation based in Blackbird Leys and it’s safe to say he’s a recent convert to the joys of cycling - something which he is working hard to share with the rest of his local community.

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OCA was founded in 2019 with an ambition to support Black and minoritised communities, running projects from food growing to hiking to camping. One of their latest and most successful projects is “RIDE!”: getting bikes to people in the community, and then teaching mums and kids to ride safely and confidently. It’s transformed families’ lives as a result.

“It’s really changed things for around 20 families”, says Laura di Giacomo, who taught people to ride as part of the project “It’s been such a huge joy helping so many people have better access to their city. One local mum struggled to learn, and after a lot of patience and persistence, cried tears of joy when she finally started to pedal. It was a real confidence boost for her.”

“Another mum in Rose Hill was taking three buses with her son to get him to school every day. We started gradually, getting them to cycle to the second stop so they could avoid one bus. It built up from there, and eventually they were cycling the whole way. They’ve now worked out a quiet route and love their journey to school rather than hating it!”

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Hassan sees the difference it’s making for many people in his neighbourhood. “Often our local families can’t afford to own a car, and struggle with the cost of bus fares. Being able to ride a bike for free to get places helps hugely with family finances and means kids can access activities during the holidays. Plus it keeps you fit and healthy, which is a big motivator for a lot of people”.

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Hassan emphasises that it’s been a project which many members of the local community and beyond have contributed to. It was led by Oxfordshire Community Action and Cyclability, with support from local County Councillors, Active Oxfordshire, and cycling charities Joyriders, Wheels For All and Broken Spoke. There are big ambitions for the next step: there are many more families keen to join, and Hassan would also like to organise regular community bike rides, and train up community leaders to become bike instructors themselves.

Maintenance of the bikes is key, as otherwise a small thing like a puncture can mean a bike goes out of use for weeks, and new learners don’t retain their skills and confidence. Making sure people have access to a trained bike mechanic is vital. The bikes which were distributed came from a range sources; some donated locally, others from Asylum Welcome, or from bike libraries or purchased with the project funding. Some were even delivered by bike trailer!

Oxford is a good place to try out cycling if you’re new to it, with many safe routes around the city - and more opening up in East Oxford all the time. Cyclox has recently published the “Oxford Online Cycling Map” to help new riders know where to cycle safely. But we are still not inclusive enough as a city: many people would like to start but can’t afford it, never learned, or worry about cycling on busy roads. With community projects like “RIDE!” – and many other local grassroots organisations doing similar great work – we can really make cycling accessible for all.

The project is looking to expand so if you have a child’s or adult bike you would like to donate, please drop us an email on

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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