South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have each appointed their first ever Cycling Champions to help and encourage people to travel by bike.
Cllr Sam Casey-Rerhaye at South Oxfordshire and Cllr Eric de la Harpe at Vale of White Horse will work with local organisations, communities, other councils and transport bodies to make sure there is wider access to cycling paths across the districts.
The work of the Cycling Champion will help to deliver the legacy of The OVO Energy Women’s Tour, which saw thousands line the streets and get enthusiastic about cycling when it passed through both districts on 12 June. The race provided a significant platform to showcase Southern Oxfordshire as a cycling and tourism destination and is set to return to Oxfordshire again in 2020 and 2021.
Cllr Casey-Rerhaye, who regularly cycles to work and encourages her children to cycle wherever possible, would love to see more people doing the same – particularly for journeys under five miles. Her aim is to make improvements to new and existing cycle paths in the district to help reduce pollution and carbon emissions and encourage others to increase their overall fitness through cycling.
Cllr Casey-Rerhaye said, “With the climate emergency, we are seeing how important it is to ensure that people have easy access to alternative transport. Cycling has a vital part to play, the more people travel by bike for either short journeys or part of a longer journey, the better chance we have of tackling harmful emissions and reducing chronic ill-health. This could make a massive contribution to a reduction in greenhouse gases -helping to secure a safer future for the next generation.”
Cllr de la Harpe is a keen cyclist after deciding 15 years ago to help the environment and his own health by cycling to work whenever possible. His passion for two wheels was spurred on further when he experienced following the Olympic Torch from his home in Abingdon to his offices in Henley – not seeing a car along the entire journey has helped him to support people to use their own pedal power.
Cllr de la Harpe said, “Cycling has significant benefits for individuals’ health and wellbeing and can also have much wider benefits in areas where cycling communities have formed, ride together, hold events and socialise together.”