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Free Wheel North, Whitehouse Covid 19 Response

by Free Wheel North in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom



raised in 155 days



To sustain a Covid-19 resilient community through cycling projects

by Free Wheel North in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Who we Are

Free Wheel North is Scotland's leading inclusive cycling organisation with 50,000 project users in 2019. We bring cycling to everyone, from toddlers to pensioners and from every possible background, ethnicity and ability. People with conditions as varied as cerebral palsy, limb loss and autism, face no barriers with a range of bikes like nowhere else in the country. We have hand powered bikes, wheel chair transporters, side by side tandems and pedal go carts. We have our own cycling village on Glasgow Green, we teach people to ride  and our community rides go all over the city and beyond. We so ourreach all over the west of Scotland, sometimes transforming streets into car free communities for the day. 


Covid 19 Emergency Response Project at The Whitehouse

The pandemic has hit the disabled and the vulnerable harder than anyone, all the more reason why Free Wheel North needs to respond.

Our Whitehouse Building on the Forth and Clyde Canal is a emerging bike shop, café and active travel hub, and we are inundated with demand as people take to cycling to maintain their mental and physical health during the crises.

Our bike repair service is  booked a month in advance, and the new café was grounded just when it was about to open. We need help to staff the project and with social distancing changes to the building. 

With a bit of help we can keep the community cycling and keep them fuelled with coffee and cake into the bargain. 


When all This is Over

Hopefully one day soon we will get back to the regular activities at Free Wheel North. Until the pandemic changed everything, we had an intensive series of community rides throughout the city and beyond, at least four time a week and for up to thirty people. The inclusive cycling at Glasgow Green welcomed every special-needs group in the city, ranging from RNIB to Scottish Autism, and at this time of the year we would be busy with hundreds of people a day. 


Exploring green space


Community Rides - When we get back to normal


 The Bike Shop

Keeping up with the huge growth of demand during the pandemic


 Kelvin Way

But there have been great positives too. Pop up cycle space has popped up all over the city, including on Kelvin Way where we did a car free day in 2018. In 2020 Kelvin Way has already been 30 days car free, and thousands of people are demanding we keep it that way for ever.

The Whitehouse is an emerging centre for ideas that will make Glasgow better for people, communities and for the planet. 

If we get through this crisis we will be part of the movement to make Glasgow a pioneer of healthy urban space, where children can play on the street, of clean air and where you can hear the birds sing. 

What they say about Free Wheel North 

Joe Dolan

I started going to the FWN led rides several years ago. I had been cycling fairly regularly , but in a pretty aimless way. I saw the led rides advertisement at the White House and decided to give it a try. At first a run across the city to Pollock park seemed like a slog. But gradually I realised that I could go further, and that with proper planning and breaks , like on the FWN rides I was able to stay out for as long as I wanted. As my confidence and fitness improved I started taking on runs I would never have considered. This year I have gone round Arran, cycled in Orkney , Perthshire and in Tenerife .

The biggest challenge I set myself, with support from FWN , getting my bike ready was a charity run from Glasgow to the Scottish Parliament and back the same day. Over 115 miles all on the canal paths. Before going on the led rides 15 miles was a big run.

I also feel confident enough after ride leader training to take young family members and neighbours on local rides .

Two years ago I made a big decision, I sold my car and now cycle just about every day, throughout the year. Free wheel North have helped make me a happier, healthier and more confident person.

Joe now also volunteers at the cycle track at Glasgow Green helping and encouraging others to cycle


Free Wheel North Testimonial 2  
Helen Bunce

I have had a bike as long as I can remember, my Dad was a cyclist, going out with the Glasgow Clarion every weekend. He introduced me to freedom to be found on wheels before I went to school, firstly on a tricycle then with a secondhand two-wheeler which weighed a ton, had no gears & too big for me to sit on the saddle. Most of the children in my street learned to cycle on that bike! I got a Coventry Eagle, 21” frame for my 10th birthday.

I continued to cycle into my adulthood on a variety of bikes. I had to give up cycling for about 10years after a bout of glandular fever followed by years of chronic fatigue, being pensioned from my job in my early 40’s. I started cycling again, slowly slowly before completing several charity bike rides for Marie Curie Cancer Care. I loved long distance cycling & covered many miles Gdańsk to Warsaw, Warsaw to Vilnius, London to Amsterdam, Yosemite to San Francisco. Along with training and commuting to my new job I thought I’d overcome the chronic fatigue till I suffered a major relapse & career number two & cycling were over. After a couple of years I got back on the bike & went along to the opening of Free Wheel North at the Whitehouse. Over the last two/three years I have gone along on rides, usually on a Monday morning.

It’s a great group to be part of, friendly riders, knowledgable & approachable leaders who have the safety & enjoyment of the group as their priority. While the group is very helpful there are times I can’t make it, sometimes for months, but due to the flexible approach taken by FWN, dipping in and out is feasible & removes pressure from riders juggling health problems having to cancel a subscription or be unable to complete a course.

FWN is a very accessible group, it provides health boosting cycles, good chat & banter, cycle care advice, road safety information and an introduction to parts of Glasgow I didn’t know existed. It is open to all, the group is very diverse. You don’t even need a bike as they can provide them.  Going out with this group is a very positive experience, even when we’re laughing about being soaked through. I always go home feeling  much better than when I started out. A great resource!


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