(Icon adapted from Freepik.com)
I recently came across this page on @diomanchester ‘s website. Its their response to plans for Greater Manchester to become Britain’s first ‘cycling city’. Which got me thinking about how rural churches could be more welcoming to cyclists.
It’s two years since we moved from Saffron Walden to take up my post as team vicar serving five rural churches south-west of Colchester. One of the common features of both locations is the number of cyclists out and about in the countryside.
In Saffron Walden there was even a specialist coffee shop for cyclists, providing a break for those doing a loop from Cambridge. Although we don’t have anything like this in the 3xLayers, Copford and Easthorpe villages, it is noticeable how many cyclists come through many of the villages, as they enjoy a ride out in the country. And when we held an open church tower event this August, it was noticeable how many cyclists had seen our roadside publicity and decided to come to climb the tower.
Owing to some generous volunteering from church-goers and others, all of the 5 churches I work in are now open daily 10am to 4pm-ish, and two have popular monthly coffee mornings that attract good numbers from their village.
So with all this in mind I picked out from the Manchester Diocese cycling webpage the ideas I think would be easily implementable – if there are people already opening your churches daily and/or holding a monthly coffee morning. The ideas I picked out are below, plus a few I’ve added.
Ideas for making your church more cyclist friendly
- See if you can provide cycle parking at your church – apparently there are grants available to help fund them;
- Encourage people in your congregation to cycle to services rather than drive – at least whilst there’s good light and weather. (Of course this also has physical and mental health benefits);
- Have cycle tools and a pump available in your church porch – along with a map of local cycling routes;
- Have publicity for your monthly coffee morning near items 3. and 5;
- Leave out some bottles of water with recyclable cups nearby, along with some biscuits – all clearly labelled;
- Have a “Church Open” sign out by the roadside with some sort of cycling friendly symbol.
- Make the most of the annual Ride+Stride sponsored event, where cyclists and walkers travel from church to church to raise money for historic churches (2019’s Ride+Stride is on Saturday 14th September).