Alastair Meikle is a cycling advocate, the ‘go to guy’, who keeps abreast of developments, reviews plans, makes suggestions and works with the council and developers where possible to improve the cycling infrastructure of the area… plus he is a man who uses his bike for getting from a to b and would encourage more to do so.
He doesn’t do all this alone, but in December Alastair was awarded with the ‘Contribution to Sustainable Travel Award’ by Modeshift, an organisation who support sustainable travel, to recognise the continued work done and success he’s achieved.
I’m sat in the straw bale extension of Alastair’s busy family house and his lifestyle echoes that of a man with the interests of our planet at heart.
Although this transition seems to have happened somewhat organically. Alastair was born in Chesterfield, lived in Tapton and attended Tapton House School which he left in 1974. He was offered two jobs, one as a draftsman at London Underground and one starting as an Air Traffic Controller. “I took the air traffic job and worked at London Air Traffic Control Centre for two years before moving to Liverpool Airport for seven years and then back to London where I spent a further 20 years.”
“During that time, I was living in Reading and started using my bike more and more to move about because it was just easier and quicker than driving.
“I became a member of the local cycle Campaign, bought a Brompton fold up bike and started cycling to the station, folding my bike up to take on the train and then completing my journey to work on my Brompton as I cycled away from the station each morning.
“There must have been about 1000 people at the workplace and I was one of only two that cycled to work.” Alastair left the air traffic job and he and his family travelled to Europe for a year in a motorhome. “During this time I remember being particularly impressed by the cycle infrastructure
“We decided to settle back home in Chesterfield” explains Alastair. “My daughter was at Old Hall and I asked whether there was any cycle training at the school. There wasn’t but I was told I could volunteer as a Derbyshire County Council Cycle Training Instructor, which I did, and later found out about Bikeability, a national course, which I attended and started providing training locally.
“Around this time, the Chesterfield School Sports Partnership were awarded funding to deliver cycle training in schools. I established a company ‘Wheely Fun Wheels’ which has grown to meet training demand and now has 10 instructors working part time to deliver cycle training to 75 schools across Chesterfield and North-East Derbyshire.
“Alongside this, when I arrived back in Chesterfield I was cycling my daughter to school on a trailer bike and was approached by a member of the Chesterfield Cycle Campaign saying I should join. I did and in 2005 became the secretary.
“Top of my agenda is to maintain a good open relationship with Derbyshire County Council (DCC) who run the highways, although most cycle infrastructure is physically in the borough it’s the responsibility of the highways to deliver etc.”
This approach has led to some great successes. “I’m really proud of the the new link to the railway
Words: Paul Chapman
Pictures: Alastair Meikle