Derek using bridge to make time

Getting to work on time isn’t a problem for Derek Leonard thanks to the new Peace Bridge and a good pair of shoes.

The Derry City Council telephonist/receptionist says walking from his Irish Street home in the Waterside to the Council’s Strand Road HQ takes him approximately 25 minutes on foot.

Derek now enjoys a leisurely walk to his work thanks to the opening of the Peace Bridge.

Derek, who has been working with the Council for 26 years, is one of a number of staff members actively promoting the city’s bid for European Mobility status by ditching the car in favour of sustainable modes of transport.

“The Peace Bridge is really great,” he says.

“I am able to get extra time in bed and a cuppa before I leave for work in the morning.

“I don’t drive but would have taken the bus to work or got a lift from some of my work colleagues but, since the bridge opened, I try and walk as often I can.”

Not only is it convenient, says Derek, but it’s good from a health point of view, something he’s very conscious of.

“I am a keen runner and only last week successfully completed the Waterside Half Marathon in two hours - so walking to work is another form of exercise for me and is good for my health,” he said.

Ross McGill, from Sustrans, is leading the Council’s bid to secure a European Mobility Week Award for the city.

The programme, which includes an “In Town without my Car Day”, a series of Dr Bike Clinics, walk and cycle initiatives and a bike hire scheme, took place this week during European Mobility Week.

Ross says staff members at the Council offices have been very supportive of the initiative with many choosing to car share, walk or cycle to work during Mobility Week.

“It’s great having people like Derek come on board and support our initiative and talk about the real benefits of not taking a car to work.,” he says.

“We are hoping that this initiative will have a lasting impact and hopefully encourage people to use other methods of transport and help us make a real and lasting difference to our environment.”

During European Mobility Week, the Council encouarged people to take their bikes to one of a number of Bike Clinics across the city and to avail of its Bike Hire facility at the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Last weekend, the Council made its staff car park available for parking and encouraged the public to walk or cycle to St Columb’s Park via the Peace Bridge.

On Thursday, local schools and employers across the Council area were asked to leave their cars at home and support the “In Town Without My Car Day” and travel to work or school by bus, bike or on foot.