Councillor Bell is a passionate advocate for cycling and started to regularly travel by bike in March 2012. He originally took it up for the health benefits after being told by doctors that he was overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
He now uses his bike for his every day travel, pedalling into central London, as well as around the borough.
In the lead up to the London Olympics, he pledged to cycle 2,012 miles. When this goal was reached he set a new one of cycling the distance equivalent to that set by the Guinness World Records for around the world cycling attempts. A total of 1,608 days later, Councillor Bell has reached his goal.
Councillor Bell said: “Cycling has changed my life. Without doubt, I am healthier and happier than I was before and I never tire of telling people what a difference it has made.
“Part of my determination to cycle came from looking at the facts. The health risks of someone my age living a sedentary lifestyle, eating curries on my sofa late at night after council meetings, is much greater than any perceived risks or dangers from cycling. So, armed with the statistics that regular cycling could give me five extra healthy years, and that, on average, I would have to cycle every day for 800 years in London before I had a fatal or serious injury, I got back in the saddle for the first time since I was a teenager.
“Cycling is an easy and cheap way to stay active and fit, because it becomes part of your daily routine. There is no gym membership to pay for and you don’t need to take time out of your day to go to a fitness class. Cycling also has the potential to save thousands of pounds in travel costs and you also get to enjoy the sheer delight of cycling in the fresh air, and discovering some of London’s beautiful quiet routes, instead of sitting in a traffic jam.
“Between 2% and 3% of all journeys in Ealing are currently made by bike. This compares to around 50% of all journeys in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. I want to see the Ealing figure increase, so we have brought together a team of passionate and experienced cycling experts, including the former London Cycling Czar, Andrew Gilligan, to form the Ealing Cycling Commission. This is the first commission of its type in the country and it will be reporting back at the end of summer with proposals for how to make cycling more accessible and safer in our borough.
“I’m now deciding on my next goal. I looked into cycling to the moon and back, but worked out that I would have to live to be 184 years of age in order to reach that one.”
More information on local cycle routes, free cycle training and bike maintenance is available on the cycling pages of Ealing Council's website.
Information on the Ealing Cycling Commission can be found on Ealing News Extra.