27 March 2024

Go Cycle Fund evaluation showcases cycling success in Glasgow

A young lady with a big smile on her face learning to ride a two wheeled bicycle with help from a coach wearing a high vis yellow vest

The Go Cycle Glasgow Fund, created by Glasgow Life to support the city’s cycling activation programme and engage local communities with the inaugural 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, delivered significant, wide-ranging benefits according to an independent evaluation.

Conducted by Glasgow Centre for Population Health, the Go Cycle Glasgow Fund Evaluation highlights positive impacts across 5 key priority areas, including, accessibility, reducing barriers to participation, engaging under-represented groups in the city, and sustainability. 

Community groups could apply for up to £10,000 to create accessible and sustainable cycling projects, to inspire more local people to take up or return to cycling. Priority was given to groups working with young people, women, people with disabilities, low-income families, and minority ethnic groups, making it possible for more people, regardless of background or ability, to enjoy the benefits and power of the bike.

The impact was measured through an online survey. Feedback was collected from 26 out of 29 funded organisations, of which 29% provided cycling activities for the first time. The total benefit was more than £160,000 of funding.

Key findings include:

  • 94% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that Go Cycle was well delivered, with 96% believing their project contributed to the wider aims of the UCI World Cycling Championships.
  • At least 1,454 people were engaged in activities through a Go Cycle funded project, with 25 out of 26 projects delivered as intended, or with slight changes.
  • Positive engagement from several under-represented population groups in cycling, including asylum seekers and refugees, LGBTQ+ populations and people from a non-white ethnic background.
  • Supporting local organisations can bring multiple, longer-term social returns, benefitting communities beyond the initial funding period.
  • Participants describe a journey of change and growth, resulting in feelings of increased confidence and empowerment.
  • Beyond social impacts, cycling can promote increased movement across city neighbourhoods, raise awareness of environmental benefits of cycling, and increase integration of New Scots.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “This summer’s inaugural World Cycling Championships showcased Glasgow’s passion for sport to a worldwide audience and celebrated The Power of the Bike. Go Cycle Glasgow is a wonderful Championship legacy project, set up to support local participation in cycling for recreation, sport, and active travel.

"The enthusiasm and commitment of these local groups and everything they have achieved, by creating and delivering a variety of ways to get on a bike was impressive. It is reassuring to learn 94% of participants agreed the Go Cycle fund was well delivered and, that by working with these organisations, we were able to encourage more young people and those from under-represented groups to try cycling and experience the joy it offers. We welcome this evaluation and are keen to share the learning, bringing the many benefits of cycling to more people across Glasgow.”

Go Cycle was developed with the specific objective of increasing participation in cycling amongst young people, under-represented groups, and minority ethnic communities.

The evaluation shows those aged 16-24 years old made up 60% of the participants from those organisations that submitted age demographics.

It is also significant that the percentage of transgender, non-binary and non-conforming participants is higher than their proportion of the general population in Glasgow.

Notably, over a third of participants were either seeking asylum or had refugee status in the UK. Asylum seekers and refugees make up less than 1% of the Glasgow population.

Together this shows positive engagement and participation from an often marginalised and under-represented section of the population.

A similar higher participation figure was recorded for those from a non-white ethnic background, who accounted for 56% of participants from the 16 groups who provided this data.

Gregor Yates, Public Health Research Specialist at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and lead author of the report, added: “This evaluation highlights the important role of community organisations in ensuring access to cycling for different population groups. The findings demonstrate wide-ranging and multiple benefits, but most commonly through increased confidence and empowerment. Further investment in this type of approach is needed to ensure continued diversification of Glasgow’s cycling population.”

To ensure a legacy from the 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships the Go Cycle Fund prioritised cycling programmes that were inclusive, accessible, and addressed barriers to taking part in physical activity. This often required attending to individual or small group needs, with a view to long-term behaviour change. Several groups carried out extensive community engagement to better understand local interests and any barriers to participation that would need to be overcome at the beginning of their project.

Funding was awarded to cover the cost of cycling equipment, storage, training, safety equipment, and some running costs. Tailored come and try sessions, introductory lessons, training, led-rides, maintenance provision, and the availability of refurbished bikes and safety equipment made it possible for more young people, women, people with disabilities, low-income families, and minority ethnic people, regardless of background or ability, to try or return to cycling, with the aim of making it a life-long activity.

Since the delivery of this first round of funding, Go Cycle Glasgow have partnered with Buchanan Galleries owner, Landsec, to provide an additional £50,000 to support the further development of projects across the city. Using the learning from the initial fund, 14 organisations will continue to expand and grow opportunities for under-represented groups.

One group who received Go Cycle Glasgow Funding and took part in the evaluation was Afghan United’s (GAU) Women’s Empowerment Project. It was a shining example of the impact relatively modest amounts of money can make, ensuring more people, regardless of background, age or ability enjoy the benefits and power of the bike.

Shgufta Anwar from Woman on Wheels said: “Our programme helps to build skills, overcome barriers to trying cycling, supports women with integration, tackles social isolation and reminds women they can take control of their futures. The additional funding from the Go Cycle Glasgow Fund has been invaluable in enabling us to continue to develop this programme. We are pleased to be able to share our learnings from the project with the wider cycling community and empower others to apply for future funding and set up their own inclusive sporting initiatives.”

The evaluation confirms the delivery model for the Go Cycle fund worked well and should be replicated in the future. Glasgow Life will digest the findings  and use them to inform how future funding programmes across the city are delivered and look for additional opportunities for organisations to share information.

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships were hosted in Glasgow and across Scotland from 3 to 13 August 2023. It was the first ever multidiscipline cycling event, bringing 13 UCI World Championships into one successful mega event, featuring thousands of world-class elite and amateur athletes and more than one million spectators.

The Go Cycle Glasgow Fund report published by Glasgow Centre for Population Health is available to download from https://www.gcph.co.uk/publications/1115_go_cycle_glasgow_evaluation_of_glasgow_lifes_go_cycle_community_fund