Pedal Power – bikes for all

Situated in the rich greenery of Bute Park, just beside the urban stretch of Pontacanna, hides the inclusive cycling centre Pedal Power – a bike rental and a cafe unlike any other…

A direction sign to Pedal Power
The Pedal Power cycling centre is located in Bute Park. On the way there from Cardiff Central station, a sign helps you take the right turn.

Pedal Power is a charity that focuses on making cycling more accessible to everybody: your weekend sightseer or someone who would have never imagined themselves on a bike. People with mobility issues, mental difficulties, carers – everyone will find a way to ride, exercise, and socialise in the cycling centre or the cozy cafe.

The founder and the previous director of Pedal Power, physiotherapist Sybil Williams –  started the centre as the way to recovery; now, all the staff and volunteers are working six days a week, tirelessly, supporting people to improve through being active.

Anybody can come to the cycling centre, rent a bike, learn to ride or just relax at the cafe.

Sam Farnfield, the senior officer of the centre shares that despite the serene atmosphere of laughter and community, there are a lot of obstacles that the charity faces. From tackling the idea of cycling being exclusive and making it welcoming to all, to lack of permanent funding

“We are trying to change the mindset of how government and local authorities view cycling… If you want more people to cycle, you have to engage with people who are less likely to cycle”.

As we try to talk over the joyful noises of cups and saucers, greeting and laughter, Sam assures: “We are not commercially driven and we don’t expect you to buy a coffee every hour. People can just come here … and be themselves”.

Sam Farnfield, senior manager of Pedal Power with dog Bracken at the centre’s cafe.

The process of renting a bike is quite easy. Anyone can go up to reception, describe their bicycle needs to the member of staff, show their membership card or pay, and just wait for the perfect vehicle to be wheeled out. Of course, no miracles happen on the first try, so some adjustments may need to be made for the ride to suit the rider.

Isabelle, the centre’s volunteer and public health researcher at the Cardiff Metropolitan University has cycled with Pedal Power for more than ten years. Like many, she was referred to the cycling charity after successful physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy. As we speak, she talks about how the centre supported her in her early years:”I had to use a range of bikes , because I used to struggle to walk when I was younger. One of them (bikes) was a Trek with three wheels”.

Isabelle tells me with joy: “Over the summer period, you could take the bikes wherever you want to. It was brilliant… That would allow me socially to be other people, and physically be more flexible and increase my mobility”.

Isabelle is a volunteer at Pedal Power and a researcher in the area of public health, basing her dissertation on the study of the centre as a rehabilitation facility.

Pedal Power organises weekly workshops to teach anybody in the community. They take place in two locations, the permanent cycling hub in Bute park and in a seasonal centre in Cardiff bay. Engaging a lot of people in cycling, takes a lot of bikes, so Sam, the senior officer proceeds to show me the vast array of bikes of all, kinds that they have in store.

Sam Farnfield proudly tells me about Pedal Power’s supportive tricycles and gladly poses in front of them with the local favourite – Bracken the dog.

Soon after, Sam hurries to get back to work, as more customers arrive ready to take a ride.