C: How does your cycling story start?

 P: I moved to Colchester in 2000, in the town centre, and whenever I drove anywhere it would take ages to get out of town, so I started questioning why I was driving at all. I put my bike at the front of the garage, so that every time I went out I would find it easier to take the bike than the car. After a year or so I hardly ever used my car anymore: it was time to get rid of it and get a good bike to cycle around.

When I moved here I got to know the local Colchester Cycling Campaign, became aware of CTC and Sustrans, joined all three organizations and became a volunteer Ranger for Sustrans. The volunteers look after the National Cycle Network locally by going out and cutting back the overgrown foliage, as well as doing minor repairs. When there is anything is too significant for us to manage we let the Council know or talk to the Sustrans area manager.

I’ve been a volunteer with Sustrans for a long time now and I am very supportive of their aims to reduce car use and get more people interested in walking and cycling. 

C: Have you extended your interest in cycling beyond this role?

P: I got very involved in campaigning and promoting cycling and I work very closely with Cycle Colchester, helping them at events. It’s really great fun to get new people involved in cycling because you can see what a change it makes to their lives. It’s good we have organizations like Sustrans and their Bike It officers who work with whole families to get them cycling- adults and kids alike.

C: Is there a campaign at the moment to support safe cycling to school?

P:Yes, we’d like to see the government spend more money on cycling. Recent figures show that the UK spends £2/head per year on cycling, whilst in countries like the Netherlands or Denmark it’s more like £20-25/ head. Until we start spending that money in the UK we’re not going to have the cycling infrastructure that we admire in these other countries.

C: So what is your role with Sustrans at the moment?

P: I’m now working as a cycle route fundraiser with a great team in Colchester. We talk with people about Sustrans and what it does, to encourage them to become supporters. Last year, every £1 of supporters’ donations enabled us to unlock £50 worth of projects, so we had a total budget of £100m. We plan to double our routes in the next ten years from 15,000 miles to 30,000 miles, so we really need to raise awareness of what we do! A lot of people are familiar with the National Cycle Network as they use it regularly, but they don’t necessarily know that Sustrans is behind it. It’ll be great to get more people on board, encouraging them to spread the word about us and the fact that we are a charity that needs more supporters.

C: And finally- can you tell us a little about your bikes?

P:When I gave up my car, I wanted a folding bike so I could take it on trains and buses. As a Sustrans volunteer, I benefited from a 15% discount on a Brompton, and it’s fantastic because I can take it everywhere with me. I also have a hybrid that I use for rides with Colchester CTC.

If you would like to help Sustrans and become a supporter, please contact Pam on 07812 209862, or email pam.nelson@sustrans.org.uk

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