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PEDAL POWER: Weaverham community illuminates safe cycling
THE Pedal Power campaign celebrates all things cycling.
The aim is to encourage Guardian readers of all ages to try cycling for the first time and discover a new hobby or hop back in the saddle and rediscover the fun of two wheels.
We also aim to encourage safe and responsible cycling and this week’s article is about a community initiative that successfully combined fun with an important message.
BMX stunts in the dark were the grand finale of a community campaign to help keep young cyclists safe.
Around 100 BMX and scooter riders descended on Weaverham High School on Wednesday evening when they were given bike lights and the chance to try them out on temporary ramps in the playground.
The Ramp Riders event was organised by Cheshire Police in conjunction with Cheshire Fire Service, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) and Weaverham Parish Council.
It was the culmination of a campaign tackling the longstanding issue in the village of young cyclists riding their bikes at night with no lights, wearing dark clothes and darting out on to the road.
PCSO Karen Nixon said: “It’s just about being seen and being safe because there’s been such an issue of kids riding bikes with no lights.
“We’ve got a list of everyone who’s been provided with lights and they will be monitored – there’s no excuse.
“When we’ve stopped them in the past they’ve said they can’t afford lights, they had some but lost them or that they’re not trendy.
“So we’ve asked the kids what lights they wanted, we let them choose them.
“The positive feedback we’ve had is that these lights are trendy.”
PCSOs were joined by Dominic Rogers, the youth ambassador for the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to fit the lights and the cyclists, aged from five to 19, were let loose on the ramps.
Refreshments were available as well as the chance to compete for cycling-related prizes.
Dominic, who has been working in schools and with the community about safe cycling, was judging some of the tricks.
The 24-year-old, who likes triathlon cycling, said: “I’ve got no BMX ability myself but I would love to be able to do what these kids can do.
“It’s good to see so many people out and they’re using the lights as a fashion accessory.”
John Freeman, Weaverham Parish Council chairman, said: “We hope this will be a turning point and that they’re going to use the lights now – there’s no excuse.
“We’ve put the hand of friendship out to the youngsters and hope it will be reciprocated.
Dad-of-two Alex Bennett, of Elm Road, who has campaigned for a Weaverham skate park, said: “This is brilliant for the kids – they’ve come out, they love it and they’re well behaved.
“This proves that even in winter there’s so many kids that want to come out, have a go and have a laugh.”