Councillor Keith Wakefield talks Bike Week

To celebrate Bike Week (10th – 18th June) we’ve asked Councillor Wakefield to share his views on cycling in Leeds City Region.

Why do you think it is important to encourage more people to cycle to work?

We know you’ve always been a keen cyclist yourself, what or who inspired you to start cycling?

I was a runner for years, and decided that actually running on concrete is not good for your knees so I decided I needed another sport. At the same time there was a great Spanish cyclist called Miguel Indurain who used to win tour after tour, five consecutive ones. And I thought well, that isn’t going to be exactly me but it looked the kind of challenge I could really enjoy. I started to do a bit of time trialing and cycling around Yorkshire. I found it really enjoyable, it’s social, you can enjoy it with other people and join clubs, but it’s also something you can do on your own and really keep testing yourself. So that’s why I enjoy cycling and why I continue to cycle.

As the chair of Transport for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, what impact do you see the Leeds to Bradford Cycle Superhighway having on local communities in 5 to 10 years time?

I’m glad you’ve said 5 to 10 years’ time, because actually I think we’re talking something a bit longer than that. What we really want to see, is not just people in Lycra going up and down the Cycle Superhighway, we want to see all ages, all sizes using a bike, just as easily as catching a bus. We’re not expecting people to do 15 miles a day or even 20 miles. We want people to think cycling is a natural pursuit for transport, to get to their friends, to get to work or to go to the shops. So in 5, 10 or 15 years’ time, I think we want to see alot more people doing it and I think that’s people of all shapes and sizes and not necessarily just those who have a passion for cycling or dress for cycling in their Lycra gear.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone who is thinking of cycling to work for the first time?

Choose the right time, especially if you’re cycling to work in the mornings. Go slightly earlier than you probably normally would if you were driving or catching public transport, so that the traffic isn’t as heavy as it is around 8 or 9am. Try to find a segregated route and just enjoy it, be alert and make sure you arrive safely in a sense that you’re not racing people, you’re commuting and I think you’ll find it safer and faster than other travel modes.

Don’t forget, Love to Ride are giving away some fantastic prizes during Bike Week, 10 – 18 June, simply sign up, log your miles every time you ride, share your photos and encourage others to be entered into the prize draw.