Cabbie gets back on bike and sees world afresh

62-year old black-cab driver Brian Hummel is a new convert to cycling, thanks to the Age Well on Wheels cycling scheme in London. The scheme is run by the London Cycling Campaign and is part-funded by the Bike Hub levy.

Before Age Well on Wheels, Hummel hadn’t cycled on the road for 40 years.

He used his black-cab for work, rest and play: “Why would I use any other transport when I had the convenience of driving in a taxi and parking in the taxi rank?”

His cabbie’s eye view of cyclists was that they were vulnerable. The idea of getting back on a bike scared him.

Then he saw some info on London Cycling Campaign’s Age Well on Wheels course. This is a gentle reintroduction to cycling for Londoners aged 50 and above. Part training, part mentoring, Age Well on Wheels is a cycling confidence course. It costs just £10 per course.

Since being on the course, Hummel has changed his attitude to cyclists:

“I now know where a cyclist should be on the road, rather than thinking they are an idiot.”

Hummel has been getting on his bike for shopping errands, something he would have previously used his cab for. He’s also about to book a cycling holiday.

Rosanna Harrington (left) and Eileen Ellis

Grey power
Hummel’s story isn’t unique. Age Well on Wheels is getting lots of senior citizens on bikes.

62-year old Eileen Ellis from North London and 79-year old Rosanna Harrington from Finchley are friends who joined an Age Well course and now cycle for pleasure and for utility.

Ellis hadn’t ridden her bike for twenty years. Her bike lay, untended and unmended.

“I always intended to get the puncture repaired and get cycling again,” she said.

“But I just never got round to it.”

She saw the Age Well course advertised in the Camden Gazette and, as bikes were provided, she signed up. She enjoyed being back on a bike so much that after a couple of weeks got her own bike repaired and has been riding it ever since. She cycles most days now, she started with small journeys on quieter roads, but is building up a lot more confidence now.

The Age Well course has taught Ellis that not only is she entitled to cycle on the road, but also that cycling in an assertive position helps her to be safe by being clear seen by other road users. Shen now feels more confident on busier roads.

She now wants “a proper bicycle for some serious cycling in the countryside” as well as her day to day journeys.

Rosanna Harrington was so thrilled at the confidence boost given by the instructors at the Age Well course she said “I felt a fire of excitement in my belly.”

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