Updated: May 20
After the exciting announcement that Zedify Bristol's Leah DeHaan is to become Bristol's first Bicycle Mayor, we caught up with her to find out all about her career and what it's like to be a woman working in cycle logistics.
Could you tell us a bit about how you got involved in cargo bike deliveries?
Leah: I got involved in Cargo bike deliveries following on from working as a bicycle courier with numerous gig-economy companies. I saw an advert online for a cargo bike rider with a local independent business and didn’t hesitate to immediately apply. It was the first time my cycle touring hobby actually helped me get the job! Last year, I started delivering for local independents using my regular bicycle with rear panniers and plastic buckets cable tied to my front rack – it was only time before I knew that I needed to upgrade to something more practical. The cargo bike was a bold purchase, but I haven't looked back.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Leah: Being out on the road and the freedom that fills you, feeling the elements on your face and getting to ride such a practical bicycle. I love how cycling can bring you in closer connection with people, an opportunity to play and have fun together.
What’s the most challenging thing about it?
Leah: Remembering I have other interests and taking a day off to do them, it’s important for me to rest and experience other things, I find it helps to keep me grateful of what I’m doing.
Women are quite underrepresented in the world of logistics and the rider community, would you say there are any barriers you’ve encountered and would you encourage other women to join the profession?
Leah: I actually wanted to be a cycle courier after I left university, but it took me 7 years to get there (I distracted myself with travelling in the mean time). I guess my concern was that I wouldn't be able to earn a living from it. I also thought I would be discriminated against for being a women, but essentially they were fears that stopped me from acting. So I started cycle touring instead to appease my love. I’m glad I got round to it eventually, it’s been an extremely fulfilling job for me.
I enjoy working in jobs that require manual and physical tasks and although things are evolving, those workplaces have tended to be more male-dominant. So I would absolutely encourage other women to join the profession, there's no reason as to why there should be a gender imbalance in the industry. If you’re thinking about it, just do it, if reasons pop up as to why not to do it, find a way. There are always solutions to the questions that spring into your mind, so go out, try your best and live your truth.
Why is it important to you that businesses get their goods delivered using a green delivery service like Zedify?
Leah: For cities like Bristol, utilising electric cargo bicycles for delivering goods makes a lot of sense from a variety of perspectives. Not only is it a solution to help us take care of what we choose to put out into the air we breathe; it creates exciting new jobs for people and inspires others in terms of what can be done with bicycles. With the boom of last mile deliveries, a robust and professional green delivery solution was needed for urban areas.
What sorts of changes would you like to see in Bristol to make it friendlier for active travel like cycling?
Leah: It would great if changes could be made to the city by listening to the voices that live here. We all have different needs and, when heard, appropriate developments can be made. It would be fantastic to continue to evolve the cycle network so that it can appeal to all. For me, this means more than just a cycle path- a space that provides opportunities to rest, play or sit quietly. Active travel can be used in so many ways, to commute, enjoy time with family and friends, to give yourself space and personal time, the list goes on and I think Bristol has a great opportunity to make active travel a choice for all. To allow space for us all is the challenge, however, I think we can try to accommodate by evolving our infrastructure so that it better represents this shift to active travel which will help to support our changing routines and the way we live.
If you'd like to talk to our Bristol team about joining in with zero emission deliveries in the city, get in touch today.