by Annie Jordan
Photos courtesy of the Vale of Leven Trust
“On your bike!” has taken on a whole new meaning for me after seeing what’s on offer at the Vale of Leven Trust Active Travel Hub.
Bobby Dorrian, Development Manager of the Hub, explains the Trust was set up in 2017 with the core aims of improving the physical environment and economy of Alexandria, increasing footfall in the town centre and improving lives of local residents.
From these values, the Active Travel Hub was born.
“We’re right in the heart of the community on Mitchell Way,” Bobby says. “We want folk to come in and see us, find out what we’re about and what they can do.”
Bobby is new to the project, as are the cycle leaders, Caitlin Watson and Gordon Dick.
He shows me their 22 shiny, new e-bikes, all lined up and waiting for me. I would love to have a go…
“Come and try them out,” he says.
“There are three led cycles per week, to various places depending on the cyclist‘s competency.
“The routes are all risk assessed. We supply the bikes, high-viz jackets and helmets, with a tea or coffee at the end.”
There is no charge for individual activities at present but participants are asked to become a member of the Trust at the cost of £5 per year.
Caitlin and Gordon accompany the cyclists. Routes vary across the Vale, favourites include the Leven towpath, over to Levengrove, the Cruin and even ‘the Horseshoe.’
Caitlin tells me: “Cycle Skills sessions are one hour before led cycles on Tuesdays and Sundays and there is also a skills session on Thursdays at 6pm.
“These are real confidence building sessions for new cyclists or those who’ve not been on a bike in years. They say ‘I love this! I remember I loved this when I was a child.”
If anyone is unsure after their first skills session, they can do another.
No-one has to do the ride until they are ready. The hub also offers more basic tuition to anyone who needs it.
So, no excuse!
E-Bikes Make Cycling Easy
I enquire about the e-bikes, curious to know how an experienced cyclist finds them.
“They are very enjoyable. Feels like someone giving you a gentle push.
“We show people the gears and then when we show them the power they go, ‘woohoo!’
“E-bikes make activities more accessible: you can enjoy routes you may not normally manage.”
I’m “all in but my feet,” as my Mum would say.
Bobby adds: “People who use it just love it!
“We want to promote the wellbeing of the people of Alexandria…get people out, get them active, get them fitter so we also organise Social Walks.
“Last night the rain was coming down in sheets but there were still four of us. We hope to increase the walking and start a jogging group. We have keen volunteers who can offer that.”
The Trust is also looking for more volunteers, at the moment they have five regulars.
“If anyone is interested in walking or cycling and can spare a couple of hours a week, please get in touch,” he says.
The Hub’s latest activity is their ‘Sunday Social,’ designed to curb social isolation.
“It’s free, although donations are welcome: it’s line dancing, a cuppa and a blether right in the middle of town.”
So, it’s not just ‘on your bike,’ you can walk, jog or boogie.
Whatever you want to do, call in at the Vale of Leven Trust Active Travel Hub, you will be made more than welcome, although they do recommend you book to guarantee an e-bike as they come in different sizes.
- Cycles: Tues and Thurs 2pm & Sun 1pm (Skills session one hour before)
- Skills session: Tuesday at 1pm, Thurs at 6pm and Sunday at 12pm
- Social Walk: Tues at 6pm
- Sunday Social: 1pm first Sun of month, Alexandria Masonic Hall
For more information call 01389 752629 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Vale of Leven Trust Active Travel Hub at 9 Mitchell Way, Alexandria