Cycling is such a brilliant way of getting about. It’s efficient, healthy and an important way to tackle the Climate Emergency.
Back in the Commonwealth Games year of 2014 we held an exhibition all about cycling, not cycling as a sport but as a fun way of travelling and keeping fit. That year we interviewed a variety of people and photographed them with their bikes. This online exhibition shares some of their cycling stories.
Many thanks to everyone who took part and you can find out more about the organisations involved at the end.
Caroline, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
I am a Travel Choice Adviser for the ‘Better Way to Work’ project which is a sustainable travel project. We work with businesses and organisations to encourage people to take other means to get to and from work other than the car, reducing single-occupancy car use.
From a young age I was interested in cycling. There were always road bikes kicking around whether it was my mum’s childhood bike or my brothers they had BMXs. My first bike I probably got when I was 5 and I used to just cycle up and down the street, back and forth (we lived in a cul-de-sac). I must have driven people crazy, I was literally just going up and down the street. I always remember going cycling with my dad and it would always just be me and my dad. I’ve got two older brothers but they didn’t cycle and they still don’t, they’re not interested in cycling at all so I guess maybe that’s why I liked it so much because my dad really liked it too so that’s probably why I got into it.
Craig, ‘IAmBikes’ cycling charity, Cumbernauld
I have been cycling since I was six, seven then I took it kind of seriously when I was about fourteen. I started doing a wee bit of cross-country and then I done I wee bit of downhilling and I done that I for about eight or nine years. Then I quit because I hurt myself but I would like to keep doing it, it’s a sport I would love to get back into again.
It’s only lately I have been doing lot of single track and other kind of stuff as you can see by my face. I had an accident last weekend: I came off my bike and slammed straight into the ground. That’s the best bit about it, cycling and hitting it then getting up and keep going. I mean I didn’t stop, I went got my face seen to and just kept cycling. That’s a reason I like cycling, you don’t know what’s going to happen, a surprise round every corner you would say!
I would say that cycling did change my life because I was 28 stone at one point and I went to the doctors and they said you need to start losing weight because I’ve got fatty tissue on my liver and I could feel the effect of being so heavy. Then I decided I will start going to the gym, start cycling and because I was unemployed at the time as well I had two years of just cycling and I got myself down to 17 stone. A good 60% of it was just cycling everywhere I went, don’t take the car just cycle unless I have to take the car.
Katherine, Glasgow Women’s Library
I’ve had this bike for three years and it’s really like my faithful friend because I use it both for day to day purposes, I don’t drive, I don’t have a car so I use it to get to uni I use it to get just anywhere I need to go in the city but I also use it to go on holiday quite often go touring. My mother’s really into cycling as well so we’re kind of working our way round the islands so we’ve been to Isla, Jura and Mull and obviously all of the sort of like Rothsay, Bute and stuff like that so we’re kind of edging upwards and we’ve always had amazing luck with the weather, like imagine on a bike in the summer it’s just paradise. I took it to Shetland as well, one of my pals got married in Shetland and me and another girl went round and stayed in all these different sort of bothies and stuff and it’s just the best way of seeing a country, you know it’s just great like, I just love it.
It’s like freedom you know and that’s what I like about bikes, it’s just pure freedom. You’re not constrained by bus timetables or traffic jams or anybody else’s schedule you can just go wherever you want at the speed you want. If you see something amazing you can stop and hang about or if you want to get there you have the joy of just going really fast as well. I just love it, I’m a real cycling fan.
Morag, ‘IAmBikes’ cycling charity, Cumbernauld
I remember my first bike, it was a blue and yellow Raleigh Nippy and I absolutely loved it. I was always falling off and cutting my knees.
As I got older, my mum managed to get me someone else’s bike, it was passed down and then I didn’t ride again until I was at university. I went to St Andrew’s University and a bike was a good thing to have to get about and to get to my classes. But on my first day out I was knocked off: a guy reversed out of a parking space, didn’t look and knocked me clean off my bike. Then my bike was stolen and I was a student so I couldn’t afford to get another one.
I didn’t actually get another bike until just after I had my daughter. I’ve got two kids and they were old enough to cycle to school and we worked out that there was a safe route from our house. It’s off the road and is a mile and a half which if I take the car is about five and a half miles, so a really easy, great way to cycle. Last summer was fantastic so the kids were quite happy and they felt the benefits as well. Everyone was chatting about it at school and before we knew it all the bike hoops were full and people were having to strap their bikes to the railings in the school playground. I lost a stone in weight and felt absolutely phenomenally good, so good that that’s why I wanted to get involved with the IAmBikes charity.
Richard, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
I’ve been working at the Bike Station now for 3 years. I previously worked in another Glasgow bike shop and it’s always a little bit different than your conventional bike shop as far as the recycling element. I’m not just working in a shop basically.
As long as I can remember I have been interested in cycling. I guess at some point my interest did go from just being a young boy into bikes to having a serious professional interest in it and that’s when I started working in bike shops. I do like the general cycling culture and the ethos that goes with it, I am into for want of a better word upcycling as well as general bikes so matching my interest in recycling to bikes has been great.
This is a pretty unique bike I guess. It’s actually originally a cycle speedway frame but I have rebuilt it as a town bike so it’s not my number one bike by any means. It’s the bike that I normally leave outside pubs and leave lying around, it’s not super expensive but I guess it’s quite unique because it uses a coaster brake so aesthetically it looks quite minimal. It’s probably not for everybody to be honest!
It’s single speed as well which is in my opinion all you really need for town but I’ve got a relatively short commute so I don’t need a bike with a range of gears. It’s the only bike I have mudguards on because mudguards do look rubbish normally. It started off as a cheap, throw-together bike but it’s hard to make a bike that I don’t really like to be honest.
Cait, Summerlee Museum
My name is Cait and the first bike that I ever had was my granda’ found it on a local dump. It was red and he done it all up and he bought a bell with Mickey Mouse on it.
Has cycling changed my life? Well I cycle to work now and what I do get it is a sense of freedom. It’s helped me keep fit and it makes me feel good, it’s a great start to the beginning of my day and for the end, all my troubles just go away by the time I’m home.
A memorable bike ride that I’ve done was a trip to Sandwood Bay, Durness. It was very cold, it was October time. We had not got much daylight left, I wasn’t feeling that great that day and I hadn’t rode a bike for years. Before we started the cycle we met three experienced cyclists on their way back and they told me how hard it was. Most of the way you were going through water, over rocks and you couldn’t cycle any more. So a few miles in we had to dump the bikes and go the rest by foot, a good few miles by foot but it was well worth it. Once we got over the hill it was like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean, beautiful white sands, blue water, there were stacks on either side. But then had to start making the journey back and by the time we reached our bikes again it was complete darkness so you can imagine what it was like, but it was well worth the trip.
I cycle to work in the summer months and I cycle from Glenboig to Coatbridge and most of it is cycle tracks. It takes you through a local nature reserve, through Gartcosh train station and this is the site of the old Gartcosh Steel Works. Then you have got a busy stretch of road to Drumpellier. There’s quite a scary bit trying to cross the road, you’re kind of playing chicken there but that is the busiest and most dangerous bit of the cycle. You are then in Drumpellier Country Park. That takes you by the visitor centre, round the loch and onto the cycle track at the back, in the woodlands. It takes you down onto the Monkland Canal at Old Home Farm, then the stretch takes you by the allotments. On your right is a woodland: the wildlife is amazing and, on a good day, you could be anywhere. You then cycle to the West End Park through two underpasses into the old canal basin, cross the road and that’s me at my work at Summerlee: half an hour; four miles.
Shamus, ‘IAmBikes’ cycling charity, Cumbernauld
I have been cycling on and off for 25 plus years now. Years ago I used to do a bit more road cycling but now is much more focused around cycling with the children. I don’t go on the roads because the roads are quite a hazard but there are certainly good routes you can find and figure out yourself to get from A to B.
I like the freedom of cycling. I got my first bike when I was nine or ten when I lived in Ireland it was a red 5 speed Raleigh road bike, this was back in about 1978. We were about three to five miles away from the nearest school so of course the only mode of transport was a bicycle which I used every day, day in day out in all weathers to get to school and back.
Robbie, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
I’ve always been keen on cycling since I was a wee boy. I lived in East Kilbride when I was a kid right beside the countryside. Unfortunately the countryside is all houses now as you can imagine but I used to go out with my friends and we would get sandwiches in the morning and head off to the hills and cycle maybe down to Glasgow or whatever, we had so much freedom when I was a kid.
I had a wee kick-about bike which we used to set up jumps and, an early form of BMX I suppose. We used to set up courses in the woods, that kind of thing.
I worked for Careers Scotland for quite a long time, probably 15 years and they had a big reorganisation and there were some redundancy packages and I took one of the packages and I did some voluntary work with Sustrans and I’d also helped out in my kid’s school teaching Bikeability. There was an opportunity to go on a cycle training course through another organisation and they paid for the training. So I did the training and just really quite got into it and then this job came up when the Bike Station was based in the Barras and I was lucky enough to get it. That was 2 years ago so it was quite a change of direction for me but it’s really been an amazing sort of journey this place expanding from a tiny kind of a market stall in the Barras.
I’ve not been out as much as I would like. I usually go out on a Sunday, 2 or 3 of us from here go out to the Campsies, or sometimes go up to Aberfoyle and cycle round Loch Katrine and places like that which is great but just because of the weather and one thing and another I haven’t been out so much this winter but now the light nights are coming along hopefully I will get out during the week and with some friends as well. Mostly it’s road cycling I do but I’ve been on the Velodrome. Just recently I just got my accreditations for the Velodrome and it’s been good fun you know, I can’t hope to compete or anything like that. It’s kind of terrifying the fitness of some of the people but, I wasn’t last so that’s something. So yeah I think I’ll go up there, it’s good fun.
Glasgow Women’s Library
I hadn’t cycled since I was a child really, I had given it a wee try briefly a few years ago and I had a scary moment so that had been it. But about a year ago my colleague suggested we started a project to get more women into cycling.
I love being outdoors and I love being active so I was like ‘oh yeah that sounds good’ and the more I got involved in the more I felt that I ought to get my bike out which is how I started cycling on a regular basis.
I’m not a manic cyclist but I cycle every day whatever the weather, it’s kind of all or nothing with me. I cycle to work along the Clyde from Partick to Glasgow Green so I can go all the way along the river which is nice, and there’s a cycle path the whole way. I hadn’t realised how many people are interested in cycling, it’s like a very special club but not an exclusive one at all because I really want more people to cycle but you certainly find that when you meet another cyclist you always have something in common to talk about. It’s a whole other world of bikes and cycling.
Thanks to cycling, I feel much more connected to the weather, not always a good thing when the weather’s awful but if it’s a lovely day it just feels wonderful to be outside and I think it’s worth soldiering through the wind and the rain just to have those lovely evenings or mornings when you’re cycling and it’s cold and crisp and sunny. Cycling is at just the right pace for me: I love walking but I couldn’t walk to work as it would take me far too long, whereas cycling gets you somewhere quite fast but not so fast that you miss out on everything either; you do notice things and notice people and you notice the subtle changes in the river’s current, and whether the water’s still or a bitty choppy.
George, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
My current bike is a Specialized Rockhopper which I got as a donation. I’ve done a wee bit of work on the bike, just fixing it up. I use it maybe 2 or 3 times a week, just going to the bank, running about, that type of thing.
I used to work in the printing industry before I came here, advertising that kind of thing. I came to work here purely by chance. I’ve always cycled since I was a kid, I’ve been cycling for 36, 37 year. When I was a wee boy my gran bought me my first bike for £3 at a car boot sale, or the Barras Market and I’ve always had a bike at some point in my life. I’ve always been mechanically minded, I always like to fix them up and take them apart, it’s a general interest I’ve always had.
Victoria, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
About 2 years ago now I was working for the Cycle Touring Club (CTC) and setting up cycle projects for young people across Glasgow. There was a project called Bike Club and I found that there were almost no girls were coming along to the sessions. I thought well wouldn’t it be great if we could do something which was aimed specifically at girls? There would maybe be one or two girls and they would be either out of their depth or alienated by the environment and then they would never come back again. So we set up some sessions that were specifically aimed at building confidence for girls to ride bikes and then that kind of evolved and I got calls from adults looking for some more sessions and my colleague and I decided well let’s get some funding and start up a ladies’ cycling group, like a leisure kind of a social group.
We were successful, we received some funding from Cycling Scotland and so we set up Belles on Bikes. It was focused specifically on women and girls, any age really and we trained women volunteers as cycle trainers so that they could deliver sessions themselves. It has evolved with me, I left that job but I still wanted to be involved and still run the group but just as a volunteer and now 2 years later we’ve got over 250 members and a whole programme of sessions that we run across the city. We do trips away, we do events aimed at encouraging even more women to come along and we do beginners’ training sessions and we do rides that are like 100 miles long so there is something for everyone.
There’s a sad story behind my bike: I was knocked off my old bike last December. It was one of the first bikes I bought, through the Cycle to Work scheme a few jobs ago and I loved it, it was a single speed bike that was just great for commuting and I had cyclocross tyres on it so I could ride along the canal or on any kind of surface. I loved it so much but unfortunately it was damaged after I was hit by a taxi in Garscube Road, it was awful. I was fine though just the bike was a bit damaged. After that I could probably have fixed the bike but it was written off by the bike shop and I never felt the same being on it. So, I got some money from the taxi’s insurance company and it wasn’t a huge amount but it was enough to build this bike, so I built it myself. The frame was a donation and pretty much everything on it is as it was, I just changed it to a single speed hub and I changed the bars and got this nice Brooks saddle also from the Bike Station and I love it, it’s better than the bike I had to say goodbye to. So it was a good thing that came out of a bad experience.
Steven, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
I started at the Bike Station 6 months ago and I had no interest in cycling whatsoever before I came but then the longer I’ve worked here the more it’s sort of grew, the interest and now you could say I have a real passion for it.
I brought my bike which I recently just got and I built that myself, along with the help of some in here. It’s a road bike, an ideal road bike and I love it. I don’t ride to work yet, I’m not too confident in the road yet but I ride it every day up to my girlfriend’s because it saves time on buses. I used to get the bus but it’s a bit of a pain.
It took quite a while to find a bike that I liked and then one finally came in and it was in a bad condition so I just done it up, put a few new parts on it, tightened everything and degreased it and now everything works fine.
Donald, Summerlee Museum
I have been cycling on and off since the age of five. My first bike was a wee blue one with white stabiliser wheels, balloon tyres and chrome mudguards. I remember the feeling of going a bike myself for the first time without stabilisers or anyone holding on.
I cycle to work when the weather is good and also cycle for leisure. Cycling helps keep me fit and gets me outdoors; I enjoy the sense of freedom. I quite enjoy the route in the morning which takes me along the old Caledonian Railway and then on to the towpath of the Monkland Canal – beats driving in!
I have two bikes but my favourite is my Raleigh Royal which is now nearly 30 years old. It is a tourer, built light but strong. The steel frame has a bit of ‘give’ which makes it more comfortable.
aja, Glasgow Women’s Library
I got my bike in Berlin where I used to live. I lived there for about three years and it was on the small ads in Berlin that I saw it advertised. I didn’t actually want a single-speed bike but I thought it was so beautiful and I really wanted something this colour, it’s a vintage Giant it just looked really nice. So I went along and it belonged to a guy who had found it, probably paid about 50 Euros for the frame, I think it’s an old ‘80s Giant frame and he scrapped most of the parts apart from the frame and did it all up himself. It was like his project, his baby and his plan was to do it up for his girlfriend (it was a bit of a smaller frame it didn’t fit him) and she then decided instead that she would prefer to have a sort of lady’s shopper bike and he was devastated because he put so much work into it! So then he decided to sell it on to someone and he saw how much love I had in my eyes and I think he was like, ‘go on then’.
I rode the bike in Berlin for about a year before I moved back here, it’s suffered a few scratches there from its transport to Glasgow. I find the single speed surprisingly okay in Glasgow, because Berlin is really flat and I thought it was going to be really tough in the hills and stuff but it’s not, it actually works really well. It’s better because it’s more a challenge, in Berlin it just felt too easy and here at least I feel like I’m getting a bit of a workout from cycling.
I cycle to work. I did my degree in Glasgow and during that time there is no way you would have had me on a bike on the streets in Glasgow. I suppose I built some confidence up in Berlin and then came back here and felt that I was ready to face the traffic in Glasgow. It’s really different here and people are not very bike-friendly, there’s a lot of animosity on the road.
Karolis, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
Since I moved to the UK 6 years ago – I’ve been cycling since I was a young boy but our cities are quite small so it’s enough to walk there – but when I moved to this country distances were a lot further to walk and public transport takes you too long and a bicycle was a really good answer to all of my problems.
So, I have got kind of my second first-bicycle after so long of not cycling. I really have quite a few bikes, I think most of the bike mechanics end up with having loads of bikes: you want to have one fast bicycle, you want to have a trail bicycle, you want to have a touring bicycle, it all depends what you want.
From my side I like knowing my bicycle and putting it together, it just feels a lot nicer to ride a bike which I can say ‘I made it, it’s my bicycle’. Yes, this is how my cycling journey started, simply commuting from work to just around to the shopping and then I started doing some cycling a bit further going maybe out of the city boundaries and doing small touring for the weekends. I haven’t done any long touring yet, it’s on the plan. I still like to have my bike in a corner which is becoming slowly a big beast.
I don’t see a point of having 5 of the same bike, for the same terrain or same type so I have a few different types: I can just jump off and on a road bike and I would go out of the city and go very fast, go up the hills or get my mountain bike you know, go not so fast but I can go on the rougher terrain and not thinking about any potholes or little bits on the roads, and then I am trying to finish my touring bicycle, which I would like to travel a bit and cycle round Scotland or even go back home where I am from. I am from Lithuania so that would be amazing, I’ve been planning that for a while.
Neil, ‘Glasgow Bike Station’ (now ‘Bike for Good’)
I’ve been working at the Bike Station since September and been cycling for I don’t know, since I was a wee boy. I remember having a bike when I was wee it was a brown Raleigh and it had a drop frame. It was sort of rusty orangey-brown and it had a number 4 on it because I was 4 years old. I remember growing up with that bike and when I got too big for it we asked the neighbours for a tin of spray paint and we sprayed it against my parents’ wall. We ended up with a big red outline of a bike on my parents’ wall, which got me into a lot of trouble.
Where I grew up I was fortunate to live next to some woodland so I was cycling round in the woods a lot when I was a wee boy that was in the ’90s when mountain bikes were becoming a lot more modern so mountain biking is what I’ve definitely been growing up doing and that’s what I still really enjoy doing. I’m fortunate to be able to work in the outdoors a lot of the time, taking folk mountain biking and stuff like that so mixing my job and also fun has been a great thing to do.
Like a lot of folk here it’s the same, we’ve all got the same passion just riding bikes and things. It’s been great so mountain biking’s definitely where I’m at, but that’s changing.
I’ve not been into road cycling much at all but I think now I’d be keen to try that. The opportunity to build up a bike is here to get myself on a road bike and do that so yeah I like bikes of all kinds, I’m changing in that respect just trying new things and stuff you want to do more.
I’ve entered the Scottish Cross-Country races. You get a few different types of entry level so I started off in a totally open category. I was doing quite well in that and thought I’m not pushing myself enough you know I was doing… not easily but quite well so I moved up to the next level and that was a lot tougher! I’m wanting to do the cross-country races again this year – I’ve had a couple of years out of it, I’ve just had a wee baby as well so I’m keen to get her on a bike already.
I see bikes as a totally functional thing though, I’ve got a car so it’s great but in a city you can use a bike for anything and you’ll be good. I got this bike – one of my old bikes I got gifted and just from all the corrosion and it ended up snapping the frame so I found this little frame and just built it up and it’s been great for me.
I wouldn’t say that I am a keen cyclist now that I have had a family, more for them now. We’ve started taking the children out and about on bikes and taking a trailer for the wee one and cycling as a family more than anything.
I enjoy it, it’s nice to get them out in the fresh air and get exercise as well and see some of Scotland, not too far afield because they are only young. We go along the canals and sometimes to parks and so on, not too far for them yet.
I don’t cycle to work. I would like to in the future when the girls are a bit older. I live in Cumbernauld and work in Kilsyth so it’s not too far to go. I’m a bit nervous going on the roads so I would like to take my time with that because there are cycle paths in some areas but not in others.
We got my bike from IAmBikes and two of my daughters’ bikes as well. I think it’s absolutely great, I really do. I think it’s a wonderful thing and I keep telling everybody about it. More as well to save money when a lot of my friends have more than one child. They are all growing and they are not in one bike for very long.
Find Out More
North Lanarkshire Council’s Smartways active travel map is good way to plan journeys without resorting to the car.
If you are in Glasgow visit the Aye Cycle Glasgow website for more information about cycling in the city and related organisations including Bike for Good, the Common Wheel and Free Wheel North.
The Glasgow Women’s Library is based in Bridgeton where they have a huge range of resources and run a range of important projects.
Interested in promoting cycling to school? Cycling Scotland has a handbook to help here: cyclingscotland.msol.org.uk/Uploads/1338390466_CSHANDBOOKnewreducedforweb.pdf