Hello! Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Heidi Russenberger, and I’m stepping into Neil’s (very sizeable) shoes as the new Campaigns and Policy Officer!
I’ve been cycling since childhood (still remember getting my first, inevitably pink, bicycle at the age of 5, learning to cycle without stabilisers, and then crashing into a tree in my local park), and now cycle regularly for transport and leisure. It’s something I love: it gives me a sense of freedom and independence; helps make our streets less polluted and more ‘liveable’; and can (or perhaps ‘should’) be a very practical and simple way to get from A to B. I wish that everyone could have the same opportunity to cycle, if they wish. However, when I started cycling to commute in and out of central London about 7 years ago, I became increasingly aware of how important cycling is for the practicalities of getting from A to B, and the real need to improve access and facilities for cyclists across London (rather than the current prioritisation of motor traffic above all else). There has been a growing provision to meet the needs of more confident cyclists on 2-wheelers, which is great, but there is still a shameful lack of awareness of Disabled cyclists (or indeed, anyone on adapted cycles). I hope to help change this!
When I’m not working for Wheels for Wellbeing, I’m a PhD student, studying Medieval Disability and how perceptions of the body and corporeal experience influenced people’s sense of identity in early 14th century Europe – there’s a lot of cross-over between my studies and modern Disability activism, so it’s great to have a position that complements my studies. It also means I’m as likely to be sitting in a library or exploring a museum as cycling or looking at the latest London Assembly report on cycling (or would be, if we weren’t in the unusual position of social distancing).
Working for Wheels for Wellbeing is really exciting opportunity for me: it’s a chance to campaign for things I feel strongly about; work with a friendly team; and to learn more about transport policies, local government, and the needs of Disabled cyclists. Please send me any questions or suggestions about Wheels for Wellbeing’s campaigning activities and policies (or any questions about medieval Disability – there weren’t any Disabled cyclists, but Disabled people moving around on hand-wheels or in wheelbarrows was fairly common), and I’ll do my best to answer.
To contact Heidi, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org