PN: How did you get into cycling?
JD: It was when I was a student in Portsmouth. The campus was a long way from town, and spread out, and I didn’t have a car. Most of the students used bikes, so I bought a cheap secondhand £50 bike called Rosie, and that was my transport until she was stolen in my third year. Then after I left Uni I didn’t have a bike until I moved from London to Colchester and joined the Council. I came back from maternity leave five years ago and considered buying a bike and cycling to work. I always tried to avoid using the car to get to work and used the buses instead. I took advantage of the Travel Scheme subsidised bus tickets. However, I found that the buses on my route become infrequent after six o’clock in the evening or just didn’t turn up and I found myself waiting at the bus stop for up to half an hour when I just wanted to get home.
I saw the information about Cyclescheme and decided to sign up. It’s a really good scheme and it has allowed me to buy a really good bike and spread the cost. I have been cycling to work now for four years. I love cycling to work (except in the rain). It’s flexible, free and it helps me to stay fit. Cycling is so good for our physical and mental health – and the guy that sold me my bike told me that it would help me to tone up my legs and bum , so that was an extra incentive!
PN: What’s your usual route to get to work?
JD: I live in the Hythe, and my route to work is mostly on cycle lanes. I’m very lucky, I get to Haddon Park and then it’s all off road along the river until I get to North Station Road. When I first started, I was worried that the route was a bit remote, but there are plenty of families going to school and people walking and cycling to and from the Uni. I stop between November and March because of the dark evenings, and find I’m really looking forward to spring, so I can get back on my bike again. I’ve really noticed a difference in my fitness and weight since I started cycling regularly, it’s markedly different. And I’m really proud of the fact that I don’t use my car so often. I love the flexibility it gives me, I can leave when I want to, and I know it takes me 20 to 25 minutes for the journey, there are no delays to worry about.
PN: Do you cycle with your family too?
JD: We use the Wivenhoe Trail a lot, and we’re thinking of getting a rack on the back of the car to take the bikes, so we can go a bit further afield. The kids are too young, they’re five and eight, to go on the road yet. We take them to Old Heath Rec, that’s where they learned to cycle. And people do cycle to Kendall school, they really encourage it, they’re good on environmental issues and sustainability.
PN: I notice you’re wearing a Bikeability badge on your lanyard, when did you do the training and why?
JD: It was back in May this year. I did cycling proficiency as a child (I got a merit) and wanted to support CBC’s new cycling advocacy scheme which included doing the Level 3 Bikeability training. I’ve noticed I’m much more confident now, and not so hesitant when I go round the Hythe roundabout. It’s made a big difference, it was a very good use of three hours, and I’m really pleased I did it. I’m really proud to wear the Bikeability badge at work, and to talk to colleagues about the benefits of cycling. I think people’s biggest fear is the traffic, and that’s why Bikeability is so beneficial.