Meet Modeshift STARS Honorary Member – Chris Tsielepi
Place of work:
What is your role within your organisation?
My title is Relationship Manager. Cyclepods is run by cyclists and is not a hard-sell organisation. We prefer to provide the best fit solution for each organisation and then to work with that organisation as demand grows to develop their offering with our wide range of cyclist-centric products.
How long have you been working in this industry?
12 years and 11 days
When did your Team Modeshift journey begin?
April 2010. I thought it was a great idea for local authorities to share best practice especially as we found that active travel was being squeezed by cuts to spending and plagued by short-term contracts. We encouraged the hard-pressed officers that we were in touch with, in local authorities to consider joining Modeshift, to take advantage of the help they could access and the freebie we were offering.
Why do you believe it is important to promote active and sustainable travel?
I grew up in Islington in inner London and it was so easy to travel by public transport or to walk as everything you needed was easily accessible. As I got older and battled with asthma, I realised the quantity of fumes being pumped out by vehicles could not be good for anyone’s health. I also realised that having a car was a costly liability and parking it, even in the 1970s was a nightmare. I much preferred public transport. I do believe however that cars are a necessary part of the transport mix for journeys that are not always possible by public transport. This is especially true in the rural area where I now live. There are just 5 buses each day into the nearest city and a single journey costs £5.50. The buses pass near a train station but are not timed to connect with the hourly rail services. The alternative which I have to say I enjoy, is to hike cross-country for 1 hour to get to the train station. This journey is for daylight hours only as there are no lights for most of the journey and unless you live in the country you will never know just how dark, dark is!
Less enjoyable is an hour long walk alongside a busy “A” road on a narrow pavement to a neighbouring village to access 2 other bus routes. To cycle along this road is for the brave. Other facilities such as pubs and a small supermarket are just a half mile along this A road, but people use their cars as they are put off cycling on the road or using the narrow pavement.
You may be surprised to hear that I do all my sales calls on public transport. I don’t have a company car. I am always very eager to sell our Streetpods which are made from waste polymer, here in the UK, from plastics destined for landfill. I also pushed for solar powered LED lighting on our cycle shelters as well as composite materials including waste elements for hub claddings.
So, to sum up, I believe that the physical and mental health benefits of exercise including cycling and walking are clear and well documented. The economic benefits are being illustrated by the reinvigoration of high streets and town centres in which cyclists and pedestrians have been welcomed back. Sustainable travel is the third side of the coin (Has anything got 3 sides??). By providing regular, fuel-efficient or low-carbon, cost-effective public transport you will provide the reliability and flexibility so that people have the confidence to undertake their leisure, errands, shopping and work schedules, without having inconvenient gaps in the service. The alternatives are dire – wider roads, more roads and more cars on those roads.
What’s next, how do you plan on getting there, and by when?
I’m years away from my pension and therefore my bus pass or a railcard so over the next 2 years, apart from my day-to-day work, I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the Smart City and the Circular Economy concepts. Our parent-group is based in the Netherlands and so we are eagerly following our sister companies progress with projects in Europe in both these fields. We will then look at promoting these on a scale that fits the UK market.
Outside of work I’m trying to get my local county council’s highways department to shift their 1970s “Car is King” thinking to the 21st century…. Wish me luck with that…..