Covid Scotland: Edinburgh cyclist pedalled 56,752 meals to vulnerable people during lockdown

The inspiring cyclist has been named Cycling UK's 100 Women in Cycling for 2021 thanks to her charitable work during the pandemic.

By Shona Elliott
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:21 pm

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Naomi Arnold co-founded a cargo bike group that delivered vital food supplies to people in need during lockdown.

The Cargo Bike Movement in Edinburgh transported surplus food from supermarkets to people experiencing food insecurity and has delivered the equivalent of 56,752 meals so far.

Naomi Arnold cycling in Edinburgh

Ms Arnold was nominated for the list by her friend Kate Chambers who said she was an inspiration to “so many” people.

Ms Chambers said: “Naomi shows that cycling has so much power to make our communities happier, greener, safer, and more just. Every day, she really lives the better world that she wants to see, and she inspires me – and so many others.

Madhavi Apparala, also from the Capital, was included on the list of inspiring cyclists alongside Ms Arnold.

The keen cyclist was recognised for her work as a cycle tutor, ride leader and founder of a community cycle hub.

Madhavi Apparala, Photo by: Andy Catlin

After a bad fall when cycling as a child, Ms Apperala didn’t ride again until she moved to the UK as an adult.

She has since made up for lost time, setting up a cycling hub for the Telegu Association of Scotland and training children and adults to cycle, including running sessions for pre-school children through the Play Together on Pedals programme.

Ms Apparala said: “It's rewarding to teach people of all ages and backgrounds, especially young children, to give them and myself a new avenue to explore nature and interact with the world.

"I haven’t always been confident on a bike. At home in India, to learn how to cycle, parents would hold the bike while the child was on it and just let go. One day as I was turning a corner, I fell off the bike, broke my shoulder bone and was unconscious. I couldn’t move my shoulder for a month, and it put me off cycling until adulthood.

"It wasn’t until recently, after getting married and having three kids, that I learned how to cycle again. After six sessions, I learned how to pedal properly and fell in love with cycling. I wanted to share my new-found passion so I trained to be a cycling coach.”

The full list, which includes 100 female cyclists, aims to encourage more women to take up the sport and replace car journeys with biking.

Although the number of women cycling increased during lockdown, men are still cycling nearly twice as much as women.

Cycling UK chief executive Sarah Mitchell said: “Congratulations to Madhavi and Naomi for making it into our 100 Women in Cycling in 2021. It’s an incredible achievement and testimony to the tireless work they’ve done to raise the profile of women’s cycling.”

Ms Arnold and Ms Apparala join TV and film actress Maxine Peake, BBC Radio 4 presenter, Melanie Abbott and gold medal winners Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker in the cycling charity’s list.

The list also includes a number of less well-known names of women who have been working tirelessly at grassroots level during particularly difficult times to encourage and support more women to ride.

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