Cycling UK's new chief executive, Sarah Mitchell has vowed her goal is to "keep Britain cycling" and maintain the increased levels of bike use witnessed during the Covid pandemic.

The new CEO, who started in her role this week, wants to avoid a return to the "bad old ways" of traffic congestion and pollution.

Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell.
Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell.

Since lockdown began in March of this year, record numbers of people have turned to cycling across the UK. This has been for a number of reasons, from government advice on social distancing forcing people to consider other options to public transport, to taking advantage of quieter roads.

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK's chief executive said:

"We're at a crossroads in the UK. We have to ask ourselves whether we want a return to the bad old ways of congested cities, polluted unsafe streets and parents feeling they have no choice but to drive on the school run, or whether we want something better."

Funding and guidance released by national governments for local councils to improve cycling has seen a series of measures including cycle lanes, widened pavements, "school streets" and low traffic neighbourhoods employed at a local level to great success.

These have largely been well received by residents, though Cycling UK is concerned councils are under pressure from a minority of people who are resistant to the positive impact these changes could bring.

"Lockdown showed that the people of the UK want to get out on their bikes but only if conditions are made to feel safer," said Sarah.

"The vast majority of people support councils' improvements for cycling. We can't - and I won't - let a small minority of people pressure our councils and governments into going back to a pre-Covid era that put motorists first.

"It is my, and Cycling UK's, mission to keep Britain cycling, ensuring people have a choice over how they can travel safely."

Before joining Cycling UK, Sarah was chief executive at Heart of the City, a social business which advises on responsible business. She has also been the former chief executive of Carers Network and head of housing at Crisis, the national charity for homeless people.

She is a keen cyclist who is keen to encourage people from all communities to cycle more, not only to improve the nation's health and the environment, but to add a little bit of pleasure to everyone's lives.