Alison leads the Walking Book Group

Tell us a bit about your personal involvement with walking and cycling.

I walk from time to time but definitely mostly cycle. It’s much easier to get into York city centre from where I live by cycling – I live about five miles out of town. I can always find somewhere to park my bike, whereas parking a car in York is much more difficult. I really enjoy cycling – it keeps me fit, I see the world on my bike and to me, it’s the best way to get around.

Have you always been a keen cyclist?

No! I started cycling regularly a while ago when I realised that I could get to work on my bike in ten minutes – it seemed so worth it. Since I’ve been in York, I’ve cycled a lot.

How did you get involved with York Bike Belles?

I had just moved to York and had got a new bike which I wanted to get postcoded – I went to Rowntree Park where the Walk Cycle Festival was taking place and came across the Bike Belles stand. They said “You are just the sort of person we need for Bike Belles!” and that was it!

I am also an active participant on committees for U3A and WI and am a volunteer with Sustrans and Wilberforce Trust and regularly ride with a Breeze Group and an informal Friday cycling group.

Have you got a walking/cycling achievement that you’re particularly proud of?

I cycled with a group of friends 160 miles over 4 days round the North York Moors and we raised over £2500 for our chosen charity. I lead the Walking Book Group for York Bike Belles once a month, which is enjoyable.

Why do you think walking and cycling is important for York?

York is a city with an infrastructure very much suited to walking and cycling. We need to protect York’s historic heritage and the tourist side, which keeps York alive. Walking and cycling is a part of this and should be made as accessible, sensible and safe as possible for people in York.

What would improve walking and cycling in York?

Sustrans have worked hard to make walking and cycling more accessible for people but there is still more improvements that need to be made. One thing that I can think of is that motorists need to be better educated about the rules around cyclists on the road – this would help cyclists feel safer. There needs to be a bigger focus on the importance of walking and cycling in York – we shouldn’t prioritise cars. A mindset change is needed within York City Council.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

As mentioned, I lead the Walking Book Group. This is great but I do want to attract a wider demographic of people. One thing I’d love to do is engage with the refugee community in York – they could improve their English by coming out on walks or bike rides and just chatting to people. This is something that would be really beneficial for the York community.