12 February 2015
By Susie Vernon
Marie Newton is a highly specialist speech and language therapist based in the Brighton and Hove area. She travels round schools every day as part of her role for Sussex Community Trust and she’s our cover star for the ‘one less car journey’ dare as she shows us how Pedal Power can make a difference.
Inspired to get pedalling
Marie was one of the first to get involved in the Dare to Care campaign. “I just thought it was brilliant. A year or so ago I had a go with an electric bike as part of a trial that the Trust was running to see how feasible it would be for staff to use the bikes for work – and I loved it. I love cycling anyway but find the hills in Brighton a bit difficult; with an electric bike you don’t have to worry – it gives you the extra push you need without the extra effort. When Jim Thomas, on the sustainability team, suggested I could swap my car for an electric bike, I jumped at the chance. My manager agreed to let me give it a go to which was great; I can’t claim mileage on the car, but I have the bike for 2 years at no cost to me. Being based in Brighton and Hove it makes it easy to use the bike for my work travel, all I have to do is plan my day properly. “
Marie has always had an interest in being a bit greener, from recycling and composting at home, to reducing the amount of time she uses a car at work – just as long as she can practically fit it in.
“I think it makes sense. It’s a really simple change that in the scheme of things doesn’t take much to do and yet makes a big difference. Since September I’ve done 1080km on the bike – knowing I’ve cut out all those carbon emissions feels great. It’s amazing the miles I have saved!”
Marie is so inspired by her bike and Dare to Care that she plans to encourage her colleagues to get involved and take a dare too. She’s also signed up for a few more herself. She said, “There are loads of dares to choose from, and they don’t take much to do. I’d like people to really think about how they can change, even just a little bit. I’m a clinician and using the car less for work is so much easier to do than people might think, even without an electric bike.”
Unexpected benefits of pedal power
The personal benefits of her car-less lifestyle are not lost on Marie, “I just love the headspace I get from not being in the car all the time. I have time to think more, and it is less stressful than driving – as well as being great exercise. Of course there are days when the weather is awful and I’d rather not cycle, but then when I do it anyway (wet weather gear is a must!) I find that I feel good – there’s a real benefit.”