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Published: 11th JANUARY 2023

Mark Drakeford opts to swap the car for an e-bike with help from Sustrans

The health of people in Wales is severely affected by high levels of obesity, low levels of physical activity, and, in some areas, poor air quality. Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister, recently made the switch to using an e-bike for some constituency and personal journeys, putting his Government’s transport strategy into action, after engaging with Sustrans.

An image of Wales' First Minister, Mark Drakeford, smiling and looking into the camera whilst holding a black e-bike in front of his constituency office.

Wales' First Minister is putting his Government's transport strategy into action by opting to travel actively.

Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has made the change from using his car for constituency and personal journeys to the healthier choice of riding an e-bike.

After getting in touch with one of Sustrans’ Healthy Travel Officers through his constituency office, the First Minister was able to borrow an e-bike for a trial period of three weeks.

“I have wanted an electric bike for the last two years but finding the time to research it all and turn the idea into reality meant it just didn’t happen,” said the First Minister.

“However, it was recently suggested that I should try the Sustrans loan scheme as part of the Healthy Travel Charter, and the obstacles disappeared!”


Empowering healthier travel choices, and leading by example

Aided by Welsh Government funding, Sustrans is supporting organisations that have signed up to Public Health Wales’ Healthy Travel Charter, which encourages public sector organisations to commit to healthier travel choices.

Christine Boston, Director of Sustrans Cymru, commented:

“It’s fantastic that we have a First Minister in Wales who’s leading the way and setting an example around the way we travel.

“We have a transport strategy in Wales that’s working to prioritize active travel, and it’s exciting that Ministers are showing real leadership through switching their journeys from using the car to walking and cycling.

“It’s vital that we transition to more sustainable transport modes for our everyday journeys – active travel can play a crucial role in not only tackling the climate emergency, but improving our health and wellbeing, too.”


Underlining the need for change

Declining levels of physical activity, increasing levels of obesity and diabetes, widespread air pollution, social isolation, and worsening health inequalities are all pressing public health issues.

“Modal shift is essential to achieving our ambitious target for a net zero Wales by 2050, and that shift requires opening up active travel options to as many people as possible for as many journeys as possible,” said the First Minister.

“Resources and opportunities like bike libraries and e-bike projects can break down some of the barriers to cycling, and ensure more people in Wales are included in both the environmental and health benefits of travelling actively.”

It's never been more important to help ensure people across Wales are supported in being able to make healthy and sustainable travel choices – whether that’s by walking, wheeling or cycling, or using public transport where available.

Sustrans’ Walking and Cycling Index, published earlier this year, confirmed that in Cardiff alone, 63.7 million journeys of up to three miles are driven each year.

That’s why Sustrans is working with organisations to help develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence in adopting more active and more sustainable travel habits.

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