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BATH: Bicycle mayor named

BATH: Bicycle mayor named

Saskia at a Kidical Mass ride.

For centuries, charter trustees have selected the mayor of Bath. 

Now for the first time the city has a “bicycle mayor”, appointed by an Amsterdam-based social enterprise “driven by the belief that bicycles transform cities and cities transform the world”.

After putting herself forward, Kidical Mass cycle ride organiser Saskia Heijltjes is the first to hold the voluntary role, which is independent of individual organisations or political groups.

She will be part of a network of more than 100 bicycle mayors in 30 countries who share best practice and highlight innovation.

Asked why Bath needs one, the web content editor said: “To accelerate the progress of cycling in Bath by highlighting and supporting the role of civil society in enacting lasting, community driven change.

“Bicycle mayors are the human face and voice of cycling advocacy in a city.

“My task as bicycle mayor will be to work across all parts of the community to identify the most pressing issues, and then bring people together to work on implementing practical solutions.”

She added: “Cycling in Bath is safe to a certain extent in certain areas, such as the canal towpath, river towpath, Two Tunnels path, Bristol-Bath railway path.

“These paths are lovely for leisure trips, but do not allow you to cycle safely for everyday trips. These paths are also not suitable for cycling in the dark for some, including many women and children.

“Most importantly, it is not safe for all ages and abilities to cycle in Bath at the moment. An eight-year-old child can’t cycle safely (with their parent/carer) to many places in Bath, including their own school.

“If we want more people to take up cycling, we need safe cycling infrastructure for eight to 80-year-olds. This could be achieved through segregated cycle lanes along main roads and connecting traffic-free routes through liveable neighbourhoods, for example.”

Ms Heijltjes has organised Kidical Mass rides to make the case for everyday journeys by bike for all ages.

Her application was endorsed by Walk Ride Bath chair Adam Reynolds, Avon Valley Cyclery director Luke Ludwell and Green councillor Joanna Wright.

Cllr Wright said: “Saskia fully appreciates and understands the many reasons why safe cycle infrastructure and education is needed.

“Improving cycling infrastructure, access and inclusiveness also enables people to move around which in turn leads to social justice and improved public health, and combats the effects of the climate crisis.”

The next Kidical Mass will be a Halloween-themed ride starting from Orange Grove at 5pm on Saturday October, 30. Everyone is welcome to join.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter


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