A community project in Hartcliffe is helping to reduce anti-social behavior in the area by giving children a bike to fix up themselves.
The six-week course, ran in collaboration with Avon and Somerset Police and Sole Cycling, is part of a new scheme aimed at tackling anti-social behavior in the area.
The initiative started after a number of residents living around the local Morrison’s in Hartcliffe complained that children were riding bikes in the car park and causing a nuisance.
The police decided that they could use cycling as a tool to help engage with the local youth.
Rebecca Ritchards, youth project manager for Avon and Somerset Constabulary helped source bikes from their detained property stores for the children to repair.
She said: “Our neighborhood policing teams identified some problems over in Hartcliffe and we decided that because the kids use bikes and have been known to cause anti-social behavior on the bikes around Morrison’s, that it would be a good idea have something centered around bikes.”
“I decided that I was going to try and source some bikes though Avon and Somerset, which I did, and I was then able to work in partnership with Sole Cycling to come up with this six week course.”
The course is run in collaboration with Sole Cycling, who teach the kids how to fix up and ride the bikes responsibly.
Marc Molloy from Sole Cycling said: “We were asked to go around to different areas of the city where they might have a problem with anti-social behavior.”
“This particular one was because of Morrison’s, where kids were hanging around in the car park and were causing anti-social behavior. They were shouting at people, scratching cars and generally making a nuisance of themselves.”
“So what we decided to do was engage with them to get them to stop some of this anti-social behavior and make it so the police were able to go and talk to them. And that’s probably the best feedback that we get from these courses that the police are actually now able to speak to kids, they now know them by name, and the kids feel that they can come and talk the police before issues get worse. “
The course is helping to bridge connection with police and local youth and is already having an impact, helping to reduce anti-social behaviour outside of Morrison’s.
Caroline Crane, from Avon and Somerset Constabulary said: “We spoke to Morrison’s today and they were saying that they do believe that incidents of anti-social behavior have been reducing in the area. They have been supplying us with food for the last three weeks of the course, and every time they come they know they get to eat and that its food that Morrison’s have given them. So were just trying to show them that there are organizations like ourselves and Morrison’s that want to do positive things with them and try and steer them away from trouble.”
“We told them that if they were going to come on the course then they would have to behave themselves. They then have an hour and a half each week, learning how to maintain the bikes and do them up. And then so long as they stay out of trouble at the end of the course they will be able to keep the bike that they have been working on.”
It is also clear that the children involved are passionate about the scheme. The new hobby has clearly made an impact on the kids and the engagement from the police is teaching them to be more responsible in the local area.
Callum Asquith, one of the course attendees said: “It just keeps you off the street, stops you getting into police chases and things. I’m done with all that.”
The scheme has had a great effect on the local area and hopes to have further expansion in the future. Sole Cycling plans to use the success in Hartcliffe as evidence to show other areas of Bristol how similar courses can help reduce anti-social behavior.
Jodi Savickas, Transport Policy, Bidding and Strategic Projects Manager at Bristol council, is involved in schemes around Bristol, going into schools in order to inspire kids to get on the saddle. She is very keen to see more courses like this in Bristol that use cycling to foster community engagement.
She said: “I think it’s absolutely amazing to get people into cycling at a very young age and projects like that certainly help to raise the profile of cycling across the city. We’re working with various different projects across the city, where we work with schools and collages so getting people at transition points in their lives, moving from primary school to secondary school and encouraging people to cycle at the next stage of their lives is really important.”
“We really are interested in lots of different groups in the community that take cycling up and put it as the focus of their project. Sole Cycling is one of those projects that the council is very keen to hear more about and I hope it’s very successful.”
You can hear more from Jodi Savickas and Bristol Council’s plans to get more people into cycling here: