In a heartwarming initiative born out of a desire to connect, empower, and promote the love of cycling, Station Starters is proving to be a huge cycling success at Station South in Levenshulme.
This inspiring group is helping women of all ages rediscover the joy of riding bikes while fostering friendship and inclusivity.
Founded by Anna Smith, a passionate cycling enthusiast, Station Starters is more than just a cycling program; it’s a welcoming community of South Asian women coming together to rediscover the joy of riding bikes while fostering friendship and inclusivity.
Anna, the driving force behind Station Starters, shared her inspiring journey and the remarkable impact this initiative has had on the community.
Station Starters: A Journey to Two-Wheeled Freedom
A Humble Beginning
She explained how Station Starters started as a simple conversation in the school playground at Station South.
“I got chatting to predominantly Asian women who said, ‘Oh, I’d love to cycle, but I can’t,’ or I’m out of practice,” Anna recalled.
This initial spark led to small, organic gatherings to help these women learn to ride.
The results were empowering and successful, motivating Anna to take the initiative to the next level.
Joined by other South Asian Muslim women facing similar challenges, they embarked on a mission to make this dream a reality.
Through determination and support from the community, Station Starters secured funding to purchase bicycles.
Every week, a dedicated group of women gathers at Cringle Park, a picturesque setting where they learn to cycle, train, and bond over shared experiences.
It takes place every Thursday throughout the summer, with this Thursday being the last one this summer.
Breaking Down Barriers
Station Starters has transcended its humble beginnings, now boasting a diverse group of women who come together with a shared goal: to conquer their fears and embrace the freedom of cycling.
Anna and Sumayra, qualified and friendly instructors, guide participants through a structured program designed to build confidence and skills.
The sessions cover a wide range of topics, from bike and helmet introduction to mastering pedal use.
They are also looking to branch out into cycle maintenance, too.
In a large open space at Cringle Park, these determined women practice the art of cycling, ensuring they can confidently navigate the world on two wheels.
Empowering the Community
This initiative goes beyond cycling, as Station Starters is about empowerment and community building.
Women aged 18 and above are welcome to join, and bicycles and helmets are provided for those who need them.
The group encourages camaraderie and the spirit of helping one another overcome challenges.
With determination and support from the community, sessions were funded by We are Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival programme, with the bikes funded by TFGM, allowing them to provide cycling sessions in a local park.
Anna described the remarkable perseverance of the women who attended these sessions, even in foul weather.
“The women persevered, despite the conditions, come rain or shine, they just really, really wanted to do it,” she said.
Empowering the Learners
One standout success story highlighted by Anna was that of Taz, a dedicated participant.
Taz and her daughter braved the winter weather to learn to cycle, and their commitment paid off.
“She can now cycle with her eight-year-old son who was like, ‘Come on, Mom, come cycling with us,'” Anna shared.
Taz’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of Station Starters, where new learners become role models, helping others overcome their challenges.
Station South and Community Building
Station Starters is just one of the many community projects run by Station South.
Anna explained that the focus is on getting new people on bikes, especially adults who may not have had the opportunity to learn as children.
The initiative includes beginner bike sessions, bike maintenance workshops, and even a bike library where people can borrow bikes.
This comprehensive approach helps break down barriers to cycling.
Anna emphasised the sense of community that cycling creates, stating, “I think that’s just the beautiful thing about cycling; it really brings people together.”
The bonds formed through Station Starters extend beyond the cycling sessions, creating a close-knit group of like-minded individuals who support and encourage one another.
While Station Starters primarily serves South Asian women, Anna envisions a future where the initiative can expand its reach.
She expressed the desire to secure core funding to ensure the program’s sustainability and make it more accessible to a wider audience.
As Station Starters draws to a close for the summer, the impact it has had on the lives of these women is undeniable.
Anna and her team have created a supportive and inclusive community where the love of cycling fuels friendships.
Through perseverance, determination, and a shared passion for two-wheeled freedom, Station Starters is making a lasting difference in Levenshulme, empowering individuals, and building bonds that transcend generations and backgrounds.
You can follow them on socials at @bikestationmcr and @stationsouth