The Liverpool Echo says it’s received a number of reports of "gangs of lads on bikes" seen cycling through the city recently. Turns out it’s a weekly cycling group that’s trying to steer kids away from gangs and knives.
The founder of Liver Pedlaa Pool, 21-year-old Blaen Roberts told the BBC: "You can't just say put down knives and give up violence because, some of these lads, that's all they know. You need to give them opportunities and life experience and get them out of that circle."
Roberts started the rides in May with just eight people, but they’ve rapidly grown in popularity and he has recently established Liver Pedlaa Pool as a Community Interest Company.
"I myself had a battle with a bad past,” he explained. “I was involved in gangs and stuff like that.”
Roberts says cycling helped him get away from his previous lifestyle and believes others could similarly benefit.
“It’s down to us as the youth in this community to make the changes,” he said. “The police can’t arrest their way out of this problem. You can’t say ‘put the knives down’ without giving the youth the opportunities, the experiences, and most of all giving them that lifestyle change.”
He added: “They make mates through something positive. It’s not like they’ve made mates through drugs or the gang culture.”
Last week the group started off at Liverpool Pier Head and went to Crosby Marina. Roberts is keen that they get out of Liverpool too though. This week they’re off to Delamere Forest with help from local transport company Signum Travel.
About 100 youngsters turned out for the Crosby ride and the group now has 10,000 followers on Instagram. They’ve even set up a mountain bike team.
“We’ve had lads turn up from St Helens, Manchester, even London,” said Roberts. “It’s not just breaking postcode barriers, it’s breaking city barriers too.”