Cycling UK’s new chief executive Sarah Mitchell, who started work at the charity yesterday, 19th October, has vowed to “keep Britain cycling”, maintaining the increased levels of everyday cycling witnessed during the pandemic.
Since lockdown began, record numbers of people have turned to cycling throughout the UK. This has been for a number of reasons, from Government advice on social distancing forcing people to consider other options to public transport, to taking advantage of quieter roads.
“We’re at a crossroads in the UK,” said Mitchell. “We have to ask ourselves whether we want a return to the bad old ways of congested cities, polluted unsafe streets and parents feeling they have no choice but to drive on the school run, or whether we want something better.”
Funding and guidance released by national Governments for local councils to improve cycling has seen a series of measures including cycle lanes, widened pavements, ‘school streets’ and low traffic neighbourhoods employed at a local level. These have largely been well received by residents, though Cycling UK said it is concerned councils are under pressure from a minority of people who are resistant to the positive impact these changes could bring.
“Lockdown showed that the people of the UK want to get out on their bikes but only if conditions are made to feel safer,” added Mitchell. “The vast majority of people support councils’ improvements for cycling. We can’t – and I won’t – let a small minority of people pressure our councils and Governments into going back to a pre-COVID era that put motorists first.
“It is my, and Cycling UK’s, mission to keep Britain cycling, ensuring people have a choice over how they can travel safely.”
Before joining Cycling UK, Mitchell was chief executive at Heart of the City, a social business which advices on responsible business. She has also been the former chief executive of Carers Network and head of housing at Crisis.
Read the October issue of BikeBiz below: