Why we cycle: Lisa Eldret

Where are you based?

Darley but also I work at the Council House but I travel round the city quite a lot for various events because of my role.

What do you do?

I’m a Mum of three young children, a councillor on Derby City Council and leader of the Labour Group.

How long have you cycled for?

I actually started cycling again last summer after a gap of 30 years so I’m fairly new back into the saddle (literally!). I did cycle as a child and I did my cycling proficiency, as it was then, and tried to do some road cycling but was terrified. Also I don’t think my Dad was hugely supportive bless him! We lived out in the country and it just wasn’t somewhere where I could have cycled and we had to drive everywhere. It just wasn’t convenient. By the time I was 11 or 12 I just didn’t cycle and then when I was a teenager it just didn’t appeal. Nobody in my family really cycles so it wasn’t natural.

Why do you cycle?

We went through this whole journey last year where we declared a climate emergency and I, like lots of other people, had this realisation about the climate and the impact on the climate. That was a key factor. I’ve got a diesel guzzling car that I can’t really afford to replace at the moment and I wanted to use my car less. I’m also really conscious of wanting my kids to cycle and be active. I know that one of the ways to do that was for them to see me cycling and being active. Generally, it is a combination of those two things.

Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?

Definitely, because I do it the most, it is through Darley Park and then along the river. I’ll go as far as you like. If I’ve got a meeting at Pride Park that’s fantastic or if I just have to go to the station or into town. That path is my absolute favourite.

What is your best piece of kit?

I don’t know actually! Probably just my bike. I got it from Bikeback Derby and I just love it. I did have a basket but that got ruined when I fell off so probably before that my bike basket was my best bit of kit but I just haven’t replaced it. That’s one of the areas where I don’t have a huge amount of kit. It was one of those things where I thought ‘I might not get into it’ and sometimes when you start something, you buy all the kit and you only do it for five minutes. I thought I’ll get the bike and I’ll go to Bikeback partly because I knew they had loads of bikes but also because it was a less expensive way of doing it. I didn’t want to go all out straight away.

What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?

I think it is confidence. I certainly still really struggle. Today is actually the first day I’ve been on my bike since before Christmas. Encouragement and helping people to build confidence and providing safe spaces where you can get advice and support. I think there are structural barriers not just for women, but in general. It is about time. One of my biggest barriers to cycling is time. If I have to drop the kids in one place and then be somewhere else actually it is often quicker for me to walk and then if it is a longer distance it is quicker for me to drive. If we could figure out time and the way that work is structured and how we’re all sort of rushing around that would probably encourage more women. Also more road free spaces or shared use spaces that were more friendly for cyclists. That’s just me, that’s what would help me cycle. I would like to cycle a lot more than I do but I still have that fear.

How do you feel when you cycle in three words?

Free, brave and focused.

Additional comments:

I think we need to get girls started really early. One of the things that really worries me is that now schools are academies and cycle training is not linked to local authorities, I don’t know if there has been a decrease in Bikeability in schools. If it has, that is a bit of a worry as that is obviously that key point. That’s what I’m trying to do with my kids is to get them started early so it feels natural to them. I think this is really important.

One comment

  1. Great story of someone getting back into cycling. But I think Lisa’s story shows that, at the moment, our city does not support new cyclists well enough. Regarding the kit – everyday clothes are absolutely fine by me, as Lisa shows. The perfect way to travel locally in a compact city like Derby. Personally I think it would be prudent to invest in a waterproof coat and maybe overtrousers so you are not tied to dry weather OR a cape, which can be worn over a dress or skirt. There are some very chic items out there these days.

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