Dawn Haines and Suzy Harrison: Sustainable Transport Lambeth

Not having to be the same cyclist all the time

Dawn and Suzy are key players in the Lambeth Transport team and have both been involved in promoting cycling.

Lambeth has targeted cycling promotion campaigns specifically at women, such as their Bicycle Belles photography competition.

The competition seeks to showcase the diversity of women who cycle. Photos have been made into an exhibition which is touring Lambeth libraries, you can find out more by following the link at right.

Suzy has also put together a calendar from the photos and it is hoped that this will help sustain the campaign.

A lot of the photos from the competition have been used in the cycle training leaflets and the new borough maps so in some ways that is promoting cycling to women as well.

Both Dawn and Suzy have always cycled, although neither of them came from cycling families. Dawn grew up in "leafy" Warwickshire where traffic wasn't such an issue and used to cycle to school with her mates.

Her mum was a keen environmentalist so they didn't use a car and often walked to places, but Dawn always preferred cycling as it is so much quicker, "it's the cheapest, easiest way to get around"

Suzy started cycling about ten years ago as a matter of convenience. Getting from where Suzy lived to where she was working would have meant taking a couple of buses and lots of time, but by bike it was simple and quick.

In terms of barriers to cycling, particularly for women, both Dawn and Suzy site safety as pretty high up, but also weather and perception of what you should wear.

Both advocate being pro-choice and making sure people have access to lots of different options, as at the end of the day it is down to the individual.

Suzy says, "If I was forced to wear lycra and a helmet I wouldn't cycle." Then again Dawn is a triathlete and uses her commute to work as training and so if she cycles to work she does wear a helmet and lycra.

Dawn reckons that people shouldn't lycra-bash so much, particularly as a lot of city workers could afford to drive into work and pay the congestion charge, but they come in by bike instead, using it as a work out and wearing lycra.

It is about not having to be the same cyclist all the time. Dawn will sometimes cycle in lycra, get to work, change into a skirt and heels, and then change over to a different bike to cycle to meetings leisurely. It is about finding what suits you.

For some people cycling just isn't part of their mindset and the best way to get people on their bikes is to make them have a go.

When Dawn first started working at Lambeth hardly any of the staff cycled to work. She started making people go out on bikes with her to site visits and it became more and more normal for people to commute by bike.

Colleagues that she thought would never cycle loved being out and about in the borough on a bike and then you start to get a critical mass effect.