Volunteer profile. Me and my cycling journey

This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 127.

Image as described adjacent

I remember buying a bicycle on Grays Inn Road in London one sunny April day in about 1995. I haven’t forgotten the exhilaration I felt as I cycled away from the shop and tackled the London traffic! It was so exciting and I was hooked. I commuted by bicycle when I was working in hospital medicine but stopped when I began training as a GP and thought I needed a car for visiting patients. We moved to Suffolk in 1999 and I often went on bike rides along the country lanes but didn’t use it for transport, so it was great when I moved to Cambridge as I sold my car and started cycling properly again. I bought one of the ex-hire bikes from Station Cycles. It was robust and reliable but being na├»ve I left it locked to itself outside the house and went away on holiday – of course it was gone when we came back!

Now my prized possession is my Dutch bike. I bought it in Rotterdam and travelled back on the ferry to Harwich with it. Hugh in the Dutch Bike Shop on Mill Road says he’ll keep it going for me for the next thirty years!

I am lucky enough to live and work in central Cambridge as a GP. I don’t need a car for work as it’s quicker to get there by bike and almost all the GPs in my practice cycle to their home visits. I have an odometer and I enjoy seeing how many kilometres I clock up each week: usually it is 50-60.

I joined Camcycle because I wanted to support cycling as a mode of transport and environmental issues are very important to me. The first thing I remember doing as a member was taking part in the ride on the new Guided Busway which was just about to open. In addition, when you move to live and work in a new place a great way to integrate into your new home is getting involved in organisations; through joining Camcycle I have met lots of interesting people and become part of the Cambridge community.

When I first joined and attended the monthly meetings I really wanted to do something to help, so I started off volunteering to make the tea and coffee before the meetings.

I have been involved in campaigning, gathering signatures for the petition for the Abbey-Chesterton bridge, and in outreach, chatting to people at the Camcycle stall at the Mill Road Winter Fair. I am now involved with this newsletter, helping to get content and working with current, and potential, advertisers.

I enjoy volunteering as it gives me a sense of purpose; even though I have a busy job I push myself to fit more in, which means I have to cycle even faster around Cambridge! I have met lots of people and know local faces. The other volunteers whom I have met have been supportive and encouraging and it is a good feeling to have a sense of a common goal.

I would love to see Dutch-style cycling infrastructure and more car-free zones. I hope Camcycle can continue to fund an employee as this has really enhanced what can be achieved.

Whenever I read this newsletter or threads on Cyclescape I can see there are so many issues that are important and that we need to address but I know how difficult it is to do this with limited resources in terms of people and time. We are all volunteers and the members who actively campaign are often asking for help with their projects. Please keep an eye on the Volunteering Cyclescape thread where requests are made, mostly for small, straightforward tasks. There is a link to this in the weekly email, where current projects are also listed. There will be lots of members out there who have skills that could help Camcycle and improve our chances of getting the outcomes we want.

Willa McDonald

Cyclescape thread for volunteers www.cyclescape.org/threads/2053 or send an email to contact@camcycle.org.uk to discuss ways you can help.