WHEN was the last time you saddled up and put your pedals into motion on a bike?

If it’s possible you still had stabilisers attached, then it is high time you dusted off your trusty cycle, according to the organisers of Bike Week 2009.

Bike Week was started by Cyclists Touring Club) in 1923 and is now the biggest nationwide cycling event in the UK.

There’s something for everyone during Bike Week, with events across the UK ranging from cycle training and Dr Bike sessions for novices, to commuter challenges and group rides around local cycling routes – all for free.

John Steer, of the south Essex branch of the CTC, says: “Bike Week is a national celebration of cycling and helps you get more out of life, by getting on your bike and exploring your local community.”

Events such as bike-to-work days and free bike checks are all aimed at showing us the power of the pedal.

As Southend gears up to become a cycling town, after the announcement last year of £6million funding from the Government’s Cycling England three-year initiative to improve facilities, transport chiefs are leading the call for more people to get on their bikes.

South Essex is part of the national cycle network managed by cycling charity Sustrans and is home to route 16, which eventually will link Basildon to Southend.

Part of the route is already open from Southend to Shoebury, with plans to link to Leigh via the cinder path already being discussed.

Anna Waite, the councillor in charge of transport, recently converted to the joys of pedalling.

“I hadn’t really been on a bike since I was 12, but I thought I ought to practise what I preach,” she laughs.

Mrs Waite has since completed her level two Bikeability training, which replaced the old cycling profiency test to help give cyclists, young and old, better road sense.

“Cycling is good in so many ways,” she says, “for your health, for the environment and financially it makes sense, especially on short journeys. Events like Bike Week are just what we need to get people on their bikes, so they can experience what a liberating activity cycling can be.”

“Over the next two to three years, the aim is cycling will become normal and people will do it just as naturally as they would get into their car.”

With the majority still commuting to work or school by car, we spend almost ten days a year on the road.

The council aims to encourage everyone to boost their confidence on the road and attend one of the events for bike week or signing up for free cycle confidence lessons.

To find out what is taking place in your local area, visit www.bikeweek.org.uk and enter your postcode.

For more information on cycling in Southend and Bikeability courses, call 01702 215003, ext 5338.