Meet The Team: Robin
Name: Robin Duval
Job title: Cycling Friendly Employer Coordinator
Time at Bike for Good: 2 months as full time staff member
What is your background? Where did you grow up and how did you come to be in this role?
I’ve been a sessional worker for Bike for Good for about a year and a half. In June I completed my Masters in Sustainability and Adaptation to climate change.
Climate action and social sustainability have always been close to my heart. Over the past 14 years I’ve been involved in climate campaigning, community renewable energy, food and housing co-operatives. I enjoy working for inclusive collaborative organisations who prioritise their social and environmental impact.
I decided to train as a cycling instructor after meeting other instructors through climate campaign groups. I saw it as a form of pleasure activism where I’m working to create a cleaner, greener and more equitable future by sharing the joy cycling brings to my life.
I finished my dissertation in June, which included a lot of thinking about intersections between urban sustainability and social inequality. I was interested in how turning towards these challenges, surfacing a common vision and identifying your role in an emergent future can present an opportunity for increased awareness and action.
So coming out of my Masters, I asked myself, what role can I play in these challenging times, to create the best possible future as we build back? What is emerging now that could contribute to a better future for us all?
Cycling can play a role in keeping us well and active during these challenging times. Scotland has seen a 43% increase in the number of everyday journeys made by bike since March, compared to last year.
I knew Bike for Good’s mission is to improve lives by increasing access to cycling for people from all backgrounds. So when the Cycling Friendly Employer Coordinator role came up, I saw it as a great opportunity.
I know many organisations need support to adapt their working cultures and practices to the current climate. Cycling can provide a path forward by enabling people to travel safely and easily and by contributing to employee health and wellbeing, especially when many people are working from home.
What does your role at Bike for Good involve?
The Cycling Friendly Employer Award scheme is really a support programme to enable workplaces to adapt, by providing funding and tools to encourage employees to cycle for everyday journeys. To apply, a desire to encourage workplace cycling is required, however you do not need to demonstrate exemplary practices, as support will be provided.
Applicants receive 1-1 support to improve cycling facilities, organisational policies and promote cycling within the workplace. Up to £25,000 of development funding is also available to purchase a pool of bikes, improve cycle parking and changing facilities for cyclists.
My role can support you by:
- providing and maintaining a fleet of pool bikes for business journeys
- supplying employees with bikes through the CycleScheme salary sacrifice scheme
- bringing our mobile workshop to your workplace to deliver repairs
- delivering cycle training including off and on-road confidence building sessions, accompanied commutes and led-ride socials
These are all possible under current guidance with social distancing and strict hygiene standards in place.
What has been a career highlight for you in your life so far?
I wrote my undergraduate dissertation about the potential for community renewable energy to transform our energy and financial system through co-operative ownership. I was then given the opportunity to feed into a new community energy government strategy and later delivered a talk about energy co-ops at the Local Energy Scotland conference.
When I worked for V3 Power, delivering DIY renewable energy workshops and pedal powered events, I erected a wind turbine at a coal protest camp in Wales which was pretty cool. It felt great to know the camp was living the dream!
Who is your biggest inspiration?
It’s funny, I’ve never really thought about that. Maybe I’m not one for single idols? I’d say working at Infinity Foods, a workers co-operative in Brighton has probably had the biggest impact on my life trajectory. I mean involvement in co-ops has been pretty core to my life since then.
I also find social movements hugely inspiring, more and more I can see the change that has come about when people come together around a common cause. I also find my friends inspiring, seeing them dedicate themselves to something and then watching that blossom, like Open Barbers, an inclusive barbers, a friend of mine set-up or TransPride, another project which I’ve seen grow from a twinkle in people’s eyes. I guess I like it when people create a community of solidarity.
There’s a protest song that I like called ‘We shall be known’ which pretty much sums it up, it’s about feeling empowered and inspired by people who turn towards challenges and work to create a better future.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love big horizons and spending time in nature so cycling or running to a local park or going hiking are high on my list. I’ve also found meditation pretty key for mental health, so I do that everyday. I got into high intensity training workouts during lockdown too, lots of squats!
Pre-lockdown I went climbing regularly and to punk gigs with my partner, who’s a musician and promoter. Housing co-op life too, I guess, which involves lots of yummy communal meals and meetings.
What is something you would like people to know about cycling?
Cycling has enabled me to engage with my body and the fuel I put in it in an empowering way. As a non-binary transperson with experience of eating disorders I spent a large part of my life feeling disconnected from my body. As someone socialised as female, people have often doubted my practical capability, but after taking my bike apart and putting it back together on a city and guilds bike mechanics course I felt I could do anything!
When I cycle somewhere I enjoy the journey and usually arrive earlier with a clear head, feeling invigorated. I know my body has got me from A to B and that’s really empowering.
This year has involved a lot of computer based work so I really appreciate opportunities to engage with my body and surroundings and get out of my head, cycling is great for that.
Favourite book and / or podcast?
Okay so I really like Kate Bornstein, who’s a trans-activist. Her book Gender Outlaw was really influential for me. Also Joanna Macey’s book, Active Hope – How to face this mess we’re in without going crazy is pretty great.
One thing you couldn’t live without?
Er… my bike?! I guess that goes without saying! I guess feeling part of a community of people working to create a better future.
Are there any other causes or charities you would like to highlight?
I volunteer with Greenpeace, that’s pretty core to my life. I went on the Rainbow Warrior last year, a Greenpeace ship which is famous for protesting nuclear weapons testing, and felt like okay, now I can die happy.
Radical Routes is also a network of housing and workers co-operatives who support others to grow the movement. I’m also involved with an action research community that is working for societal transformation using a methodology called Theory U.
Thanks to Robin for so kindly sharing these snippets of their life.