Darren is a learning disability nurse and a councillor from Shipley, in West Yorkshire. He lives with his partner and two children, who were an important part of his becoming an enthusiastic advocate for cycling utility journeys.
Darren used to cycle a little bit – but fun and utility with the children really increased the amount he was riding:
“It’s just a great way of being able to get about without using the car. Being sustainable, getting some exercise, and all those things and with the kids, doing lots of that with them.”
He was even able to borrow an e-cycle from a local organisation – and loved it so much he bought his own, as part of his family’s push to reduce the miles they drive.
The pandemic lockdowns really increased the amount Darren cycled – but Covid has unfortunately had long-lasting negative effects for him:
“I got through the initial kind of stages of being quite ill and in bed with COVID, not being able do much. And then, you know, a few months, I still wasn’t picking up much… I wondered whether or not with my ebike whether I’d be able to cycle more easily.”
His ebike is really helpful in mitigating the impact of long Covid on Darren and his family:
It’s been really important to Darren to be able to take his children to school and keep working while keeping his environmental impact as low as possible. Even though he still becomes exhausted quickly, the e-cargo cycle lets Darren do some of the things he wants to.
“It just means I can do some of those day to day things that I was doing before I got ill a bit easier and then not falling back to relying on driving everywhere.”
Darren’s cycle can transport all sorts of goods
As for so many people, road danger and a lack of safe infrastructure is the key problem Darren sees for widespread utility cycling:
But there’s been some improvement locally with a trial of an Active Travel Neighbourhood in Shipley – “I can now go on the filtered roads which are quieter and makes a difference definitely. But once you get on to the main roads, it’s just really, really, really busy.”
Darren’s key takeaway is that we have to give people the opportunity to cycle – including not just infrastructure, but also providing financial help and changing the way people think about cycling:
“They’re quite expensive are e-bikes. [We need] financial incentives as well for people to get on bikes as well because they make a massive difference.”
“We need to be able to get people to have the opportunity to borrow or trial or loan bikes, and to see people doing it as well, to make it seem like it’s an ordinary, everyday thing.”
We really enjoyed hearing Darren’s positive and clear vision of how the future could look with a little more support for active travel. You can listen to the full chat with Darren and the rest of our My Cycle My Mobility Aid podcast series on our My Cycle My Mobility Aid podcast channel and download the transcript. We have campaigning resources and support available via our website at www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk , too
If you would like more information or to share your story for our campaign please contact Kate@wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk