This driver travels by bike: Meet Dr David Driver, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust 

Dr Driver explains how his active commute supports both his physical and mental health - especially crucial for NHS staff working through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust applied for grant funding through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme to make their site in Steeton more bike friendly.  

Through the grant, funded by the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund, two new secure cycle parking compounds have been installed to make it easier for staff to travel to the hospital on two wheels. 

Dr David Driver, a consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Trust, regularly cycles to work from his home in Burley in Wharfedale.  

We spoke to Dr Driver to find out how his active commute helps support both his physical and mental health, especially important during the challenging times experienced by NHS staff throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I’ve moved around quite a lot with my work, and when it came to settling more permanently in the area it was important for me to have easy access to the Yorkshire Dales, but also to be able to have an enjoyable commute to work.  

My commute over Cow and Calf, and over Cringles, offers me great views of Wharfedale and Airedale and is very relaxing.  

I’m an early riser, and I’m often out of the house before 6.00am and will extend my commute up into the Yorkshire Dales to Bolton Abbey, Barden Tower and Burnsall, always heading back Addingham to ride over Cringles and onward to the hospital to begin my shift. 

I am actively training to compete in triathlons – at a reasonably high level - and while I take it pretty seriously my training also helps me de-stress from the challenges at work.  

My job is busy but it’s very enjoyable and satisfying. I get to work with some great colleagues, meet some lovely patients and I get to cycle to work through all the little hamlets and valleys that is their home, and this gives me a sense of pride and attachment to my patients. 

Getting connected

I’m a bit of a geography fan and I love poring over maps. The landscape of the Aire Valley, the Wharfe Valley and the surrounding area is unique and it’s on our doorstep. If I’ve had a busy, stressful day, I try and make the most of my ride home by taking a longer route.  

But also, by not using a car I’m reducing the potential stress of driving in heavy traffic and trying to find a parking space. And while I will drive in some days, the days I’m on the bike are so much more stress-free. I know it’s doing me good and it’s great to see other people out doing it too. 

Burn fat not fuel

If I had the option I would always choose to commute on the bike, just because of the benefits it gives you. Aside from my interest in competing and exploring the local landscape, getting from A to B by bike really doesn’t take much longer than by car, given the normal traffic conditions. 

By the time you’ve got home you’ve managed to de-stress and you’ve done your exercise for the day. For those with a family that might not be able to exercise in the evening, a commute is an opportunity to be active. 

Encouraging others

I’m often walking around the hospital corridors with my cycle gear on, which means I’m pretty visible. People know I’m an advocate for biking and also an advocate for people being active, whether that’s patients or staff, and I don’t shy from this as I think it’s important. 

When I started an email conversation asking who would be interested in travelling by bike within my ward, there was a very positive response from people who wanted to try it.  

My message to those people is to just give it a go! If you have a bike, plan yourself a suitable route, make sure you’re suitably equipped and well-lit, give yourself plenty of time, and just try it!  

There are lots of staff members who already cycle and enjoy it. It makes a big difference to the enthusiasm of staff at the hospital and at this really challenging time, that’s important for everyone.”