Tackling Sheffield's hills with Louise Haigh

Cycling UK met with Louise Haigh MP for an e-cycle ride around Sheffield
On 8 March Cycling UK enjoyed an excellent e-cycle ride with Louise Haigh in her Sheffield constituency. Senior policy officer Monica Scigliano provides the scoop

When Louise Haigh, Sheffield Heeley's MP and Shadow Secretary for Transport, said she’d be up for a bike ride – on International Women’s Day, no less – we jumped at the opportunity. Sheffield is known for its intimidating hills, which keep a lot of people from cycling and help entrench car dominance (40% of journeys that are less than one km are driven in Sheffield). However, with the growing popularity of e-cycles that no longer needs to be the case. 

It's for this very reason that Sheffield is one of the locations for our Making cycling e-asier scheme, which provides e-cycle loans and skill sessions in four areas across England. 

Louise Haigh speaks with members of Cycling UK's senior leadership team

Sharing the benefits of cycling

Before getting on our bikes we had some time to speak with Louise, learning more about her transport priorities and providing an overview of our work. She was enthusiastic about our behaviour change work, which addresses the barriers – such as cost and motivation – that prevent people from cycling. We also briefed Louise on a recent report we commissioned from IPPR which makes the case for greater investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, which unlock numerous health, well-being, environmental, and economic benefits. 

In Louise’s constituency nearly one in three households do not own a car, and could access essential services – while simultaneously boosting their health – much more easily and reliably by bike. 

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s CEO, said:  

We were so pleased to meet Louise and discuss the many benefits cycling brings as outlined in a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research – not just in terms of health, wellbeing and the climate, but also boosting economic growth, creating green jobs and making our streets safer.  

E-cycles open those benefits up to even more people, especially in hilly places like Sheffield, and make getting around fun. What’s needed is for more people to have the option to choose walking or cycling for shorter journeys, and that requires investment in infrastructure, including separated cycle lanes.   

As the General Election draws nearer, we hope to hear all of the main political parties commit to enabling more people to move actively, and to realise all the benefits that brings.

Louise Haigh and stonemason Steve Roche with his e-cargo bike

Time to ride

The benefit of advocating for cycling is that rather than just talking about it, you can show people how enjoyable it can be - so we did just that. Together with Louise we headed over to nearby Meersbrook Park, where we met South Yorkshire’s Active Travel Commissioner Ed Clancy. 

We were also joined by Tom Collister, who coordinates the excellent Sheffield Cycling 4 All, which provides inclusive cycling sessions for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, and local stonemason Steve Roche, whose business benefitted when he switched from a van to an e-cargo bike. 

Louise Haigh and others cycling in Sheffield

Together, we cycled around Louise’s constituency, conquering hills that many people would not be able to cycle up without a little electrical assistance. We were rewarded with some of Sheffield’s best views and even a hint of sunshine. 

We also took in local traffic calming measures such as bus gates and school streets, which helped keep the route quiet and safe

Cycling through a bus gate in Sheffield

Once we finished the bike ride we were joined by local cycling champion Chella Quint, who leads the Period Positive movement and jokes that she “talks about cycles on her cycle” – she is able to do her work thanks to an e-tricycle.  

Chella Quint talking about her advocacy work and her e-trike

The future of cycling in Sheffield

Tom Collister, of Sheffield Cycling 4 All, summed up the day nicely when he said:  

E-cycling has opened up the option of cycling in Sheffield for many people who previously wouldn’t have been able to cycle. It was great that Louise Haigh could experience for herself just how much difference the e-assist makes.   


Hopefully this insight will enable her to better advocate for improved infrastructure and more e-cycle loan and low-cost purchase schemes. Hills no longer need to be a reason for not cycling in Sheffield.

Meeting with MPs is just one of the ways that we are working to garner political support for safe and accessible cycling for all. With the expectation of a General Election this year, we are championing the benefits of cycling and will continue to do so in the lead up to the election. Read more about Cycling UK's advocacy work and keep up-to-date with our latest work and campaigns.