The Bridgwater Way has worked closely with businesses and the community to get people to really think about the way they travel. As we enter a new phase of the project, we wanted share with you some of the impact we have had on people in the town.
Travel Plan Training
Caroline Derrick, Employment, Skills & Development Manager for Sedgemoor District Council, took part in travel planning training provided by The Bridgwater Way.
The training equipped staff who provided support to job seekers, with knowledge and skills to tackle job seekers’ travel issues, and overcome barriers to employment.
Staff were trained in a variety of techniques, including effective journey planning, to help job seekers learn about options available to them. The training was designed to be self-sustaining because attendees were equipped to become ‘champions’, to share resources with colleagues for a multiplier effect. Caroline Said:
“As a result of attending the travel plan training, I was able to assist Tom* back to work.
Tom was long-term unemployed living in Burnham-on-Sea with no driving licence. He was convinced he couldn’t come into Bridgwater to work due to the way shift patterns operated and the lack of public transport around those hours.
Following the training, I encouraged Tom to go online to ‘Somerset Car Share’ and through this he not only managed to secure transport but also a job at Mulberry.”
*Tom’s name has been changed to protect his request for confidentiality.
Caroline Derrick, Employment, Skills & Development Manager for Sedgemoor District Council
Tracey Healy has embraced cycling and its now part of her life.
Initially, Tracey came long to a Skyride for fun – the 4 mile Wilstock Explorer. She then tried a 33 mile ‘Ice Cream’ run. Tracey now cycles more than 100 miles a week!
It all began when Tracey encouraged her workmates to get on their bikes for ‘cycle to work’ day, 2 years ago. They cycled 22 miles to work along the canal from Bridgwater to Taunton. They enjoyed it so much that they planned to do it on a regular basis, starting with 1 cycle ride per month, to 1 cycle ride per week, ultimately travelling that distance 3 days per week.
Tracey has learned to fix and maintain her own bike too. She attended two bike maintenance courses with Dr Bike, and this year she attended a cycling confidence training course. Tracey said:
“The Bridgwater Way has made a huge difference to my life.
Not only has the project taught me so much about cycling, helped me to get fit, save money, reduce my carbon footprint, but I’ve also had so much fun – especially the two ‘Neon Bike Rides’ which they organised. I used to be very frightened of cycling in traffic. But after going along to the cycling confidence training, I learned how to ride safely in traffic. Most vehicles are respectful to cyclists but you just need to be aware of those that don’t notice you. I always used to cycle the long-way around, to avoid roads, but now I feel comfortable taking the direct routes.
This year, I signed up to The Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge, and I cycled 287 miles. I love joining the Somerset Levellers social rides on Friday and Sunday evenings, as well as the Somerset Saddle Warmers on Saturday mornings. It’s a good way to meet people and make friends.”
Tracey at the start of a bike ride
62-year old Andrew is a genuine cycling fan. Every day he cycles the 14-mile round trip between Burnham-on-Sea and Bridgwater.
Andrew experiences learning disabilities and he finds that the social and recreational opportunities cycling brings helps him build his confidence, meet new people and stay fit.
“I first got into cycling when I had a paper round as a boy, then I cycled to school. Now I cycle every day and it really keeps me fit.
“I know how to maintain my bike because I used to work in a bike shop in Highbridge.
“I have been logging my cycling journeys on The Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge because I hope I will win!”
“TBW has got me involved in lots of social rides. Some of the cycle rides I’ve been on include Dunster via Taunton, Sky Rides, Neon Bike Rides. Thanks to TBW I’ve cycled more, got fitter, met new people and made some cycling friends!
Andrew (front) tries out riding a trike
Kelly Banwell, Community Co-ordinator for Hamp Community Association, said:
“Local people came together to share their ideas on how we wanted our public spaces to look.
Two or three years ago at the very beginning, DIY Streets ran pop-up sessions to ask what the area should look like. They asked us for ideas and it was a really hands-on experience. The DIY Streets staff were very prominent in the community – we got to know them and were keen to share our concerns and our ideas.
The updated areas look nice – it is much more communal. Before that it was unloved and rundown.
People like to sit on the wall and chat. It’s more sociable and increases the community spirit because people will stop and talk.
Dr Bike has been brilliant – he’s really sought after. He’s fixed lots of bikes at our community events. He’s just what you need to help adults and kids, all get on their bikes to get around. Dr Bike is patient and helpful.”
Carleton Lord from Carleton Lord Carpets is a keen cyclist. He said:
“I regularly cycle to work. My current bike, I’ve had for 9 years and it’s travelled 32,000 miles! I’m not thinking of changing it, but if it was a car I would be.”
Jacqueline Groves from the Gatehouse Refresco Gerber said:
“I have bought myself a bike since taking part in the Challenge and I’m going to cycle to work from now on.”
Hatsu Watson from Alletsons Solicitors said:
“Ben at work encouraged me to start cycling, so I cycle in the evenings and when the weather is nice I cycle to work from North Petherton along the canal path.”
Bridgwater College’s Nyree Madge is a new cyclist. She recently cycled with 16 students, from London to Paris for a student’s residential course, to raise money for the Help the Heroes charity.