Doctor encourages public to consider cycling to work
A Northumberland doctor is encouraging people to think twice before choosing to drive over cycling and walking.
Dr Jane Atkinson, an acute medical consultant at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, is among those backing Northumberland County Council’s The Big Northumberland Gear Change campaign.
And as part of Cycle to Work Day on August 5, she has told of her own health benefits from now cycling.
Dr Atkinson was born with malformed feet and at 13-months had both amputated.
Her commute is a 12-mile round trip in which she explains does take longer on her bike than in the car, however she reaps the benefits when at work.
She said: “I didn’t touch a bike for about 30 years, I didn’t like that my bike was different from everyone else’s and then about a year ago one of my brother’s neighbours had a trike, I had a go and that was that.
"The freedom it brought was fantastic and I instantly loved it.
“Instead of picking up my car keys, I get on my bike and that’s my journey to work now.
"It does take longer to cycle than drive, however, as I’ve been awake and up and about for longer, by the time I hit the wards, I have loads more energy and I am much more awake.
“If I can do this then I don’t see why others can’t.
"It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, simply choosing one day of the week to leave the car at home will not only make you feel fitter, physically and mentally, but you are also doing your bit for the environment.”
‘The Big Northumberland Gear Change’ campaign is encouraging all residents to try and leave the car at home and get out and explore the local area on foot or by bike as often as possible.
Jill Harland, consultant in public health at Northumbria Healthcare, added: “It’s great to see Jane and so many of our colleagues cycling more and reaping the physical and mental health benefits.
"Hopefully it can inspire more of our local community to make some of those small changes too.
“We know it can be difficult given people’s commutes and their responsibilities but put together those small changes can make a big difference, not only to our environment but also to our wellbeing. It can even benefit your bank balance too.”
Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for local services said: “Jane’s story is incredible and shows the power one simple swap can make to your day-to-day life.
“We have such a beautiful county that can be explored by foot or if you do enjoy cycling there are some fantastic routes on your doorstep.
“We aren’t asking people to completely ditch their cars, it’s about small changes that may one day become more long-lasting.
"Things like walking to a local shop rather than taking the car can make a massive difference to your health and the environment.”
Cycle to Work Day is the UK’s largest cycling commuter event.