Things you’re never too old for….

#1 – riding a bike!

West Lothian Bike Library volunteers had a wonderful time with residents of the Woodland Nursing Home in Livingston this weekend. As part of their open afternoon, we took along two of our adaptive bikes.

After our first daring ladies took the plunge, we had a steady stream of takers for a wee jaunt on the Waverley & Bankton Mains Paths nearby (part of Livingston’s extensive off-road walking & cycling path network.)

Thank you to the staff, residents and their families for letting us take part in your special afternoon! Our adaptive bikes are available for hire and use by groups and individuals, and we also run regular inclusive cycling sessions. Get in touch for more details.

Bike lending for school communities

We were delighted to support St Nicholas RC Primary School in June through the loan of adaptive bikes. Check out this video of their adventures!

Some of our services are free to schools (e.g. loan of adaptive bikes) but for others we request a small donation to help cover our costs. As always, get in touch if your organisation would like to explore loaning any of our fleet of standard, electric or adaptive bikes.

Cycle Friendly Community Award – Gold!

The nationally recognised Cycling Scotland, Cycle Friendly Community Award recognises communities that have contributed to promoting cycling as a healthy, sustainable travel choice, and sets out a pathway for those committed to becoming Cycle Friendly.

West Lothian Bike Library were invited to apply for the award by their Cycling Scotland Development Officer, following a funding review in recognition of the work they have been doing to make cycling more accessible in West Lothian.

There are 3 levels of award, bronze, silver and gold, which focus on the following areas:

  • Plan of Action
  • Barriers, Needs & Opportunities
  • Funding
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Community Engagement
  • Communication & Promotion
  • Partnership & Stakeholder Working

Gold level is awarded to those organisations who ‘having fulfilled the requirements for both Bronze and Silver CFCA levels, your community now has a long-term plan in place to develop cycling, influenced by the feedback gained from activities already delivered and through consultation with community members, stakeholders and partners. At this stage your group has given thought to the sustainability of the project. Evidence gathered to date has been used to demonstrate the value of the project, and there is clear and consistent engagement with the wider cycling community.’

WLBL are delighted to have been awarded Gold Level and thank all their volunteers for their commitment and support in achieving this!

2019 brings more inclusive cycling and donations of bikes to those in need, along with some exciting new partnerships e.g. e-bike hires at Linwater caravan park and bike provision to the West Lothian 50 Plus Network, maintenance training including an accredited course in partnership with West Lothian College, and supporting SEStran to broaden the reach of their employer e-bike loan scheme.

The season of giving (bikes and bike racks!)

As we round off another great year at the West Lothian Bike Library, we’re delighted to have been able to donate 18 of our refurbished bikes in recent weeks to families via the various support groups and networks we work with.

Thanks also to the generosity of Queen Margaret University, we have donated and delivered bike stands to the following schools in West Lothian:

– Connolly School Campus
– St Margaret’s Academy
– Whitburn Skills Centre
– Torphichen Primary School
– Westfield Primary School
– East Calder Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Staff at Connolly School demonstrate to our volunteers how easy it is to move Sheffield Stands!

We will have additional stands available for other schools in the New Year so get in touch if you would be interested in receiving one. The bike stands could be standalone or can be bolted into the ground but you should consult with your Estates contact on the best mechanism for your school.

Live life to the full – cycling at the Scottish War Blind Centre

Many in our communities live with a vision impairment, and may think cycling is beyond their reach.  The West Lothian Bike Library’s aim is to reduce barriers to cycling, regardless of circumstance. So we were delighted to offer the loan of some of our bikes to the Scottish War Blind Centre at Linburn in West Lothian in November.

Users at the Centre got to try our Roam Twin Split Bike – safe in the hands of a Centre instructor but still able to participate in pedalling and steering. And of course, enjoy the buzz we all get from cycling a bike! 

In the pictures are Tom Hedges, Derek Marland, Ian McGregor and Bill Chalmers.  Thanks to Kelly from Scottish War Blinded for letting us use the images.  If your group or organisation would like to arrange access to our bikes and equipment, get in touch.

Keep it lit this winter!

It’s hard to stay motivated at this time of year with darker nights, colder weather and risk of icy surfaces. But for many of us, walking and cycling is still a vital way to get around for everyday journeys, and also a great way to continue to stay fit and healthy over the winter months. Think dark skies, aurora borealis and a comfy snood!

As ever though, stay safe this winter. Here is a collection of great tips from the people at Love to Ride on how to keep cycling this winter. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

(image courtesy of www.unsplash.com) 

Power to the people! Travelling by electric bike

One of the West Lothian Bike Library’s goals is to reduce barriers to cycling, regardless of ability or circumstance. We’re taking part in the SEStran Go e-bike scheme, where we make electric bikes (e-bikes) available for a small rental fee to West Lothian residents, as well as some workplaces. The project is aiming to raise awareness of e-bikes and let people try them out.

So what’s it really like to ride an electric bike? One of our volunteers and a local resident, Deborah, tried one out over the summer.

“I tried out one of the West Lothian Bike Library’s electric bikes during a community event where the Bike Library were showcasing them, and I was keen to learn more about them. I cycle a bit where I live to the shops and rail station, and I’ve cycled around 13 miles in the past on an occasional cycle commute over the Bathgate “Alps”, where an electric bike would definitely have come in handy. I’m generally comfortable with new technology, and our household car is electric. I’ll confess I’ve been a bit skeptical about both electric vehicles and electric bikes in the past for lots of reasons (‘cool’ technology shouldn’t take priority over walking, cycling and taking public transport more) but I increasingly see a role for them in the everyday transport mix.

So I arranged with David to pick up one of the Giant electric bikes at the Bike Library’s base in Crofthead Community Centre, Livingston for a four day period.

The pick-up process was easy. David showed me how to switch it on (never underestimate the power of stating the obvious), gave me the kit for charging the battery and a good quality bike lock. The bike costs £50 for a week’s hire as part of the Go e-bike scheme for residents, or £25 for four days. Two forms of ID have to be presented, one of which must be a photo, along with £100 deposit on a card (which will be returned to you when you return the bike). All understandable as e-bikes cost a fair bit more than normal bikes, though prices are starting to come down.

The basics? Just like a conventional bike, you use the pedals to go. The big difference with an electric bike is the on-board battery that gives you an assist when you pedal. I’ve read about the electric bike smile, and I think that’s very accurate – the boost you get from that bit of assisted power is exhilarating.  The bike I used had gears and three different levels of power – eco, normal and sport. Eco restrains it a little and saves power whilst sport mode feels pretty quick. I mostly rode it on normal mode.

The bike was very easy to ride, and I felt like I didn’t have to pedal as much compared to a conventional bike – it felt almost effortless coasting along on some stretches. The biggest boost was on hills – I had a sensation of the bike pushing me up a few hills I tried (including the infamous Kingscavil!). 

In terms of how long the battery lasts, it really depends on what mode you are in and how hilly the terrain is. I cycled the bike for nearly 16 miles and over 2 hours, albeit on a relatively flat route, and the five bars on the bike’s energy gauge had only reduced by one – meaning there was plenty of juice left for further adventures. Conversely, I cycled up some hill routes using sport mode a fair bit, and the battery bars depleted much quicker.

How do you charge the bike? A charging kit comes with the bike, and it’s a piece of cake to use. Just unlock the battery on the bike with the key provided, attach the charging cable and plug it into a household socket. It takes a couple of hours to fully charge from flat. 

A slight downside of an e-bike is that it feels heavier than a normal bike (though even everyday bikes can vary substantially in their weight). This can make it awkward to manoeuvre if you have to wheel it up some steps or lift it, or potentially if you run out of battery on a hilly section (remember, you can pedal it like a normal bike even if the battery runs out).  I also felt I probably could have gone a little faster on my conventional bike on some straight, flat road sections – but I don’t think that’s a bad thing as e-bikes are heavier and it’s probably a good idea to have a limit on speed in case of a collision.

Speaking personally, I have a reasonable level of fitness already so if I wanted to get my heart-rate going for health reasons during a bike ride, I probably wouldn’t choose an e-bike. It’s not 100% effortless going up hills on an e-bike but it is significantly easier, and cycling along flat routes barely registers. That said, for people who do need to improve their fitness gradually, an e-bike might be a good way to ease into exercise.

The e-bike really comes into it’s own on everyday trips and the longer, harder cycle trips, like a cycle commute you have to make regularly. I cycled from Linlithgow to Livingston on it, using quieter roads in the Bathgate Hills, and the journey was a good 20 minutes quicker than I’ve previously done it using a pedal bike. That time (and personal energy!) saving maybe makes cycle commuting feasible for more people than conventional bikes.

I think it’s also a game-changer for people out there who want to cycle more but can’t for fitness or health reasons, or even lack of confidence. On an e-bike, you don’t need to worry so much about cycling slowly on a road and what vehicle drivers behind you might do (that shouldn’t be a worry for people on bikes but realistically, it is) – an e-bike helps you maintain a steady pace and ensures you don’t get stuck going up hills. That’s an important confidence booster for people who are less confident on bikes.

I’ve heard some people say e-bikers are cheaters – fair do’s. The real potential for cycling to make the world a healthier, safer and happier place though is when everyday people leave the car at home for everyday trips and choose to ride a bike instead. E-bikes might just help with that.”

Get in touch

As well as the Go e-bike scheme for residents in West Lothian, a separate Go e-bike scheme is also in operation for workplaces, and a number of employers have already taken loan of e-bikes in West Lothian for trial by staff. If you’d like to try out an e-bike, contact us to book out a bike. We can also give you advice on a bike to buy if you feel ready for an electric bike.  

For cycle route planning in West Lothian,  try Open Cycle Map and consider the Spokes 2018 West Lothian & Livingston Cycle Map, particularly useful to help navigate Livingston’s extensive shared use path network. You can buy a copy at the West Lothian Bike Library, from Spokes directly or in some local bike shops.

Remember to bide by codes of conduct on shared use paths like the canal towpath and other paths where both people on foot and on bikes share the space.  Sustrans and Scottish Canals offer advice on how to use shared paths with respect for each other.