Pedal Power; the female-only cycling course for refugee women

When Majda first came into contact with Pedal Power, she had only just arrived in Birmingham and didn’t know many people at all, aside from those she lived with. It was her housemate that recommended Pedal Power cycling lessons, as a means for cost-efficient travel. With government finance of only £37.75, Majda decided to try out a lesson. Little did she know how much she would fall in love with it.

Pedal Power is a female-led, women only cycling course, organised and run by The Bike Project. With qualified instructors, class members are taken through a robust cycling training course, teaching them everything from cycling itself, to safety, to confidence. In Birmingham, these take place in Digbeth, forming part of the thriving culture of Birmingham. Having opened up a second branch of The Bike Project in Birmingham, we’re thrilled to have been running Pedal Power lessons since autumn 2019.

For Majda, it was a long journey, from Omdurman in Sudan, to getting on her first bike in that first lesson. Majda said: “I was so nervous, I thought I would be judged for never having been on a bike before.”  But nothing of the sort happened, and Majda quickly grew comfortable in the saddle. Week by week, the instructors of Pedal Power took Majda through cycling, falling safely and road safety. For Majda, she achieved a sense of freedom she’d never had before: “As a Hijabi woman, you never saw other Hijabi women cycling in Sudan. I feel so proud to be able to cycle now.”

But it wasn’t just confidence in cycling that Pedal Power brought her, but much more.

“When I am cycling and I can feel the wind in my face, I feel so happy,” she said. “Having my bike allowed me to feel more at home in Birmingham, as I could go out and about exploring. Without the bike, I would have been so worried about travel costs, and been stuck at home, getting more depressed.”

After graduating Pedal Power, Majda was fitted with a bike and the correct safety gear. Each Pedal Power gets this donation once their course is complete. It was then that Majda decided to continue volunteering with The Bike Project, and now volunteers at the workshop every week.

This year The Bike Project donated it’s 6000th bike, but we still have a waiting list of over 800. In Birmingham, we help beneficiaries from not only all over The Black Country, but as far as Newcastle and Liverpool. We desperately need more bikes, so if you have a second-hand bike, please donate it at one of the following drop-off points: https://thebikeproject.co.uk/pages/set-up-a-drop-off-point