Dame Sarah Storey has been unveiled as active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region by its mayor, Dan Jarvis, who in December outlined his plans to get more people cycling, walking and using public transport.
Britain’s most successful female Paralympian with 14 gold medals in swimming and cycling, in the past two years Storey has combined her racing with acting as one of British Cycling’s policy advocates.
Confirmation of her appointment to her new role was made at an event at Sheffield Hallam University today.
She said: "I'm proud and excited to be the first Active Travel Commissioner for the Sheffield City Region. I believe active travel is a less stressful way of moving about, and helps to create the foundation of a happier workforce and a happier population.
"As someone who's passionate about active travel, and through my policy work with British Cycling, I've been so interested in what Chris Boardman is doing with Andy Burnham over the Pennines [in Greater Manchester].
“It's brilliant to have the opportunity to work closely with Mayor Jarvis and his team to do something similar here.
"For me, this is about having another string to my bow, and utilising that profile of elite sport to benefit the wider population,” she added.
“Not everyone is going to be an elite athlete, but we can all enjoy being more active. I'm looking forward to seeing how, together, we can make real changes to the way people travel in the Sheffield City Region."
The region is the fourth in the UK to appoint a commissioner focusing specifically on active travel, joining London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, where last week former track and BMX world champion Shanaze Reade was named cycling and walking ambassador.
Jarvis, who was elected in May last year, said: "I'm delighted to name Sarah as our Active Travel Commissioner. To have such an exceptional, inspirational and passionate individual leading our active travel agenda is very exciting.
"Sarah joins us at an exciting time and will play a crucial role in helping us to make sure that active travel remains an absolute priority as we make our region's transport network fit for the 21st century.
"By prioritising active travel, we can improve people’s health, cut carbon emissions and reduce congestion. But you don’t have to be a professional cyclist - or indeed a gold medal winning cyclist - to travel in a more active way. By making little changes to the way that we travel, we can all do our part to create a healthier and more active society."
Storey’s new position will see her work alongside local authorities and community groups and national government, among others, as she leads the active travel agenda in the region, which received Transforming Cities funding last month for schemes in Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.
Storey’s appointment was welcomed by Cycling UK, which together with Cycle Sheffield drew up a study for the new commissioner on how to improve cycling and walking in the region.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK campaigns manager, said: “Sheffield City Region are to be applauded for their selection of Dame Sarah Storey as their new Cycling and Walking Commissioner.
“She’s such a fantastic inspiration for so many people, and Cycling UK hopes her amazing achievements continue as she makes the Sheffield region a cycling and walking success.
“To help in this process, I hope the study we prepared will act as inspiration for Dame Sarah Storey over the months and years ahead.
“The Sheffield City region has a real opportunity to show the rest of the UK how to make our urban areas places we want to stay and spend time in rather, than pass through rapidly in a car.
“Although this study is based in the Sheffield region, it’s relevant for communities across the United Kingdom, especially for cities and towns crying out for investment,” he added.
“We need to see ring-fenced Government funding for cycling and walking networks to enable councils to make the changes needed to create healthy streets for everyone.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.