Spotlight on Jayne Cornelius

How one woman is getting more women active in Wales

Jayne Cornelius has spent almost two decades encouraging more workplace cycling and active travel. She has driven instrumental changes across many workplaces, including helping Swansea University become the first organisation in Wales to achieve Gold Standard Award in Cycling UK’s Cycle Friendly Employer accreditation. We spoke to her about life on her bike.

Quick fire questions

What bike do you ride? A whisper folding electric bike – that goes with my age and limitations.

Favourite place to ride: From the south of France in the Esterel mountains down to Agay beach - all one cycle route. Locally: in Wales my favourite is the route 43 national cycle route because it's a great off-road ride.

In three words summarise your cycling: Go for leisure.

jayne_cornelius active travel

It’s inspiring to see a female pushing for cycling in the workplace. When and why did you decide to push for more active travel at work?

I started about nineteen years ago as a regional travel planning coordinator for South West Wales. My role was to encourage workplaces to incorporate active travel planning and I did this successfully for about thirteen or fourteen years, really promoting the Cycle to Work scheme.

In my role I worked with the police, NHS trusts, and more in the local area to help motivate people to cycle to work. I've always promoted Cycling UK's Bike Week and any exciting initiatives to get people out of their cars, so they will choose to use a sustainable travel choice instead.

What motivates you to help organisations improve their workplace cycling?

To see improved health and well-being of the people around me and reducing the sole occupancy in cars is a big drive for me. Over the years I've engaged many organisations in active travel. I've seen most people go from leisure cycling to commuting, rather than make the direct leap to cycle to work after being new to cycling. I like making things easier for people.

When I first started out, I was working closely with one cycling organisation in the area and you could count how many people cycled to work, now you can count all those who don’t, there has been a big transformation. If you ask what's next on my agenda, it's pushing for more workplaces to have electric bikes. I use one myself and totally understand why people want them – depending on where you live they can really help with the hills.

What are you most proud of out of everything you have achieved in your career?

Pushing for better cycle facilities for the workplace. You won't believe how big an impact it can have on your employees, it has really has affected cycling numbers. At Swansea University where I now work we have drying rooms, showers and more, the feedback from staff is fantastic. The drying rooms in particular have made such an impact and to see peoples reaction to that is great.

jayne_cornelius active travel

Do you foresee more women cycling to work as a result of coronavirus, have you had to make any changes to your workplace? 

Cycling to work during and after coronavirus depends on all of us. Everyone across campus has got to support active travel and ensure - for example - the routes into campus are safe, especially when travelling on the roads.

If we don’t address those things with the council, then women are not going to start riding in. Swansea University also holds led rides, so people can become familiar with their route. You can even demonstrate the route via a GoPro, to show people the safest way to travel.

And of course, ensuring hand sanitiser is available, and showers are cleaned and sanitised after use will all help in supporting more people to cycle to work. 

To encourage more students to cycle we're offering a hundred free memberships for the bike hire scheme. I'm also pushing for the ceiling on the cycle to work scheme to be raised, as it will encourage people to continue to ride.  

What advice would you give to females looking to push cycling to work more in their workplaces?

From a personal point of view, don’t be put off because you’re not wearing lycra, cycling thirty miles a day. If you believe in good health, wellbeing and the environment then there is no reason you can’t incorporate those things in the workplace. It's great to help an organisation reduce their car parking space, or to see more people cycling - if you try hard, you'll succeed.

Do you think being a part of the Cycle Friendly Employer scheme helps more people to cycle? How has it changed your current workplace?

Being a Cycle Friendly Employer absolutely helps, having more of a presence for cycling encourages a culture of cycling to work. The accreditation also helps us drive for better workplace facilities, so we can maintain our current Gold Standard Award. We've even had the Gold Standard Award engraved into the window, so now we really do have to live up to it.