South Yorkshire has cycled to the moon this September!
Over 1,600 local people taking part in the county-wide Love to Ride: Cycle September scheme have now clocked up well over 238,855 miles so far this year - the distance from South Yorkshire to the moon!
Organisers calculate the ‘moon landing’ happened last Friday when University of Sheffield fundraising administrator Debbie Beaumont-Thomas completed the 238,855th mile as she cycled home from work.
To celebrate, Debbie was presented with a moon-shaped cheese by cheesemaker and fellow cyclist Sophie Williamson of Sheffield Cheesemasters.
“Everybody knows the moon is made of cheese, and I think up close it would be like my Little Mester cheese, which you can see has craters in it,” said Sophie.
“It was exciting to make the moon landing, but I love cheese so I was even more excited to win this new Sheffield cheese,” said Debbie.
Cycling and food go together, said Sheffield Council senior travel planner Paul Sullivan.
“Cyclists need to eat more than the average person because they quickly burn off what they eat,” he said. “And the beauty of cycling is that you can make those local journeys to local shops and food makers quickly and easily.” He said research has shown that cyclists will also spend more in the local food economy because of the accessibility of buying local products.
“A study in the Peak District showed that cyclists spend several times more than drivers when they visit because they don’t carry much with them. A Sheffield cyclist will also save in petrol and parking costs, which they can then spend on Sheffield cheese or bread.”
Over 120 local companies have already signed up for the Cycle September scheme, part of South Yorkshire’s inMotion! programme of Sustainable Travel initiatives funded by a £7.5m Access Fund for Sustainable Travel grant from the government. The free scheme aims to encourage commuter and leisure cycling, and to promote cycling among local employers, with prizes like holidays and bikes on offer to people and companies who sign up and log their miles until the end of September.
“I love cycling, and so do many of my colleagues at the University, and I thought it would be good to try and encourage other people to cycle too,” said Debbie Beaumont-Thomas. She said she hopes the large numbers of people taking part in Cycle September will encourage local authorities to improve road surfaces and infrastructure for cyclists. “I’d love these things to get better, given that Sheffield wants to be an Outdoor City.”
Sophie Williamson used to cycle in Holland, and noted that riding to the local shops is just part of normal life there, and hopes the increase in cycling in South Yorkshire will boost the local food economy. Her Sheffield Cheesemasters business at Kelham will go into full production this month with the first unique ‘Little Mester’ cheeses on sale to the public on October.
By that time, the South Yorkshire cycling mileage should be even higher, said Paul Sullivan. “Not many of us can say we’ve got to the moon in our lifetime. But of course now we’ve got to get back!”