Personality of the Month - Alison Hill, Health Specialist

Alison Hill

What is your job or other main activity that involves cycling?
I work in an organisation called the South East Public Health Observatory which monitors and measures health and disease in the population of the South East. SEPHO leads for the Association of Public Health Observatories on physical activity, transport and obesity, so we have staff with specialist expertise in these areas. SEPHO set up and hosts the National Obesity Observatory. Both SEPHO and NOO are part of an organisation called Solutions for Public Health of which I am managing director.

How long have you done that?
Since 1999. Before that I was Director of Public Health in Buckinghamshire Health Authority.

Where do you live?
In Oxford.

What most encourages you about cycling where you live?
Oxford is seen as a good place to cycle.

What most discourages you about cycling where you live?
Cambridge is better!

How would you describe yourself as a cyclist?
I do as many journeys as I can by cycle (though was beaten by the snow in January and resorted to the bus). I cycle to work everyday, a round trip of 12 miles, and cycle to friends or the shops within the city. I also have wonderful cycling holidays with my husband – last year we took the European Bike Express to southern France, and cycled back to Paris via the Auvergne.

What is you earliest cycling memory?
Being brought up in Cambridge I was on my bike around the city as far back as I remember.

Where is the best place you have ever cycled?
The Netherlands. We didn’t even need a cycling map as we could be so sure that there would be paths alongside any road or canal. But we have had many memorable rides in this country on our wonderful national cycle network.

What is your greatest achievement, in terms of encouraging more people to cycle?
Being on the Board of Cycling England and helping show that the Cycle Demonstration Towns increased cycling. This is one of the most thorough evaluations of a cycling initiative done to date.

What single thing do you think would do most to encourage more cycling in the UK?
All the evidence shows that no one thing works in isolation, and that to get people to change their lifestyles, you have to have a multifaceted approach. This is why it is so rewarding and gratifying to see that the approach using a range of soft and hard measures adopted by the first six cycle demonstration towns has resulted in an increase in cycling.

What has been your favourite cycling experience?
The first touring holiday with our children aged 8 and 10, in France. It was such a wonderful, liberating, eye-opening experience that we have been regular cycle tourers ever since.

What was your worst cycling experience?
Ireland – car drivers there do not take cyclists into consideration.

What is it about using your bike that you like the most?
The fact that I am using my own pedal power, getting around without using fossil fuel and keeping fit and healthy at the same time. But also the predictability and speed of journeys within Oxford.

The answers given are the opinion of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation they may represent.



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