Member Profile: Dorinda

Dorinda joined the campaign just prior to the start of Covid lockdowns. ‘Being on rolling furlough for months on end, it became very important to do something worthwhile with my time to avoid going stir crazy. The more I learnt about the urban environment and history of cycling in York, the more I felt could be done to help cycling levels recover. I wanted to see if I could help York Cycle Campaign grow and ignite some enthusiasm amongst not only people who already cycled, but the many who wanted to – as seen in the numbers that did in lockdown. I felt there was a real hint of untapped potential there for cycling as a mode of transport in York.’

While we saw councils attempt temporary fixes to help people cycle to maintain and improve health and well-being during lockdown, the government released the Gear Change policy and with it a real national focus on active travel. Dorinda did more background reading and signed up to a course with the Urban Cycling Institute and University of Amsterdam, (Unravelling the Cycling City: ), which looked in more detail at how the Dutch cycling system works, and the complexity of urban planning.

Preferring to stay out of the limelight as a rule, she found a niche in taking on some of the duties of publishing social media posts, interacting with reactions to the campaign’s work online. This is an area she wants to strengthen as a way of reaching out to current members and growing general awareness of the campaign. ‘It always surprises me when someone says they haven’t heard of York Cycle Campaign as we are so often in the news poking the council with a stick. It’s not just a case of asking for new stuff, but also trying to get them to deliver on the long list of projects they’ve already been given money for – current thinking at the council is still so car-centric that York needs a constant nagging voice speaking up for active travel, especially for better routes for cycling.’

In 2015, Dorinda was hit by a driver on Fishergate, while cycling to work at the now defunct bingo hall. Her back was broken, pelvis fractured, and she had a long, difficult recovery before returning to work. ‘I was very lucky in that, but for a few millimetres I could have been in a wheelchair. My recovery was quite isolating, and I still suffer from symptoms of PTSD. The one thing I was determined to do even from the earliest days of hardly being able to walk to the next lamppost, was get back on my bicycle. It took some doing and getting an e-bike made it much easier to cycle more often, but I did change my route and didn’t cycle on the Fishergate gyratory for a long time.’ The gyratory will soon see the bingo hall replaced with a student accommodation block, and York Civic Trust have submitted some initial redesigns for the notoriously dangerous junction. 

‘I have been a cyclist my whole life. As kids, cycling even battered old bikes with poor brakes and patched up tyres gave us the freedom to explore our neighbourhood for miles. In my working life, cycling has saved me tens of thousands of pounds in bus and taxi fares. After my accident, cycling helped me regain strength, gave me much-needed mindfulness time to process the strain of returning to work and dealing with ongoing chronic pain. Supporting the campaign means pushing the council to make cycling much safer so everyone can reap the benefits. There are so many studies out there now to show that cycling is great for health and well-being, reducing carbon emissions, curbing long-term congestion, and that it can really boost the economy, too.’

‘There will always be people who rely on their cars or can’t cycle, but there are so many people who could and would get real reward from cycling and I hope in time we’ll see this become an even bigger cycling city than it claims to have been twenty years ago. I think that will make for a much nicer city to live in and attract perhaps a slightly different, just as valuable kind of visitor to York.’

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