Sustrans Scotland welcomes the appointment of Lee Craigie as the new Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland. This is a significant step in recognising the importance of active travel for the future of the country.
Craigie is an inspirational figure in the world of cycling. Not only as an impressive competitor and endurance rider but also as an advocate for the therapeutic and social aspects of cycling and being outdoors.
This new position will see Craigie as an official representative for walking, cycling and physical activity. Working to keep active travel on the agenda, helping to implement and promote the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and the National Walking Strategy.
It shows that the Scottish Government is committed to the goal of active travel in Scotland, recognising the mental and physical health benefits and the associated improvements to quality of life and environment.
We also think it’s a positive development to see Scotland take a lead in addressing gender imbalance in transport planning by appointing the first female in a comparable role. We highlighted the issue in our research earlier this year, and look forward to continuing the conversation.
In similar positions in London and Manchester, Andrew Gilligan (followed by Will Norman) and Chris Boardman, respectively, have seen real progress. Gilligan helped oversee building 38 miles of cycle superhighways in London while Boardman has taken the lead on a £1.5 billion proposal for a new 75 mile network across Manchester.
Scotland is a more complex challenge, covering a significantly larger area, including cities, towns, villages, countryside, glens and rugged Highland mountains. So it will be interesting to see how Craigie tackles the diverse terrain and infrastructure demands.
We have had the pleasure of working with Lee Craigie over the last few years, and her video promoting National Route 78, The Caledonia Way, and highlighting the mental health benefits of cycling has been one of the most viewed on our website in recent years.
Sustrans Scotland looks forward to working with Ms Craigie in the coming months and years, and playing our part to helping make Scotland become a truly Active Nation.
Craigie has also tackled some of the world’s most demanding endurance races including the Highland Trail 550, Cairngorm Loop and The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (covering over 3000 miles from Canada to Mexico).
As well as being an impressive athlete Craigie is a fully trained Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and understands the role bikes and cycling can play in mental wellbeing. Her work with Cycletherapy engages with young people in the Highlands who are at risk of exclusion, she also co-founded the Adventure Syndicate to promote self-belief and female empowerment.
Speaking about her ride along the Caledonia Way, Route 78 of the National Cycle Network, Craigie said:
"It's so easy to forget that the simple action of riding a bike in the fresh air can make you feel better about almost anything - at least temporarily - and that's something I want for everyone. I've faced many challenges over the years, both emotional and physical, and cycling has provided me with a continuity - an escape from the everyday pressures of life."
Sustrans Scotland Deputy Director GraceMartin said:
"We welcome the appointment of Lee Craigie as the Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland. This is an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of active travel in Scotland and help drive the changes forward needed to happen to help more people travel sustainably. In addition to the increased investment in active travel, we are delighted to see this level of commitment from Scottish Government. It’s great to see such an inspirational person like Lee in this role who brings a wealth of experience and has a sound understanding of the many benefits active travel brings. We look forward to continuing to work with Lee and have no doubt she will be hugely successful in her role."