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"How to set up another ride": An interview with Zeshan Rawn

Zeshan Rawn is a Senior Information Manager at the London Neonatal Operational Delivery Network. We caught up with Zeshan to talk about Ride for their Lives, and how it inspired him to take action…

Action triggers action

In 2019, Zeshan was out cycling when he witnessed the scale of climate protests in central London. It got his mind racing. “We found ourselves in central London, which had been completely blocked off by protesters with loads of people marching through the streets”, Zeshan recalls. “I’d always been passionate about the environment. My dad was born in Kenya and we were raised with an affinity for the natural world. Seeing this, brought it all back to me. I thought, ‘what are we doing?’ And, clearly, there were more people out there that felt like this.”

A couple of months later, a colleague forwarded him an email about Ride for their Lives. Zeshan loved the idea and quickly signed up. He ended up riding all the way from London to Glasgow in November 2021, where COP26 was taking place. Zeshan said, “what was great was being able to talk to members of the public. Some people thought we were mad, cycling all the way to Glasgow, but we were able to engage them about the issues. I soon realised that even if you just spoke to one person every day, it made it all worthwhile. It was phenomenal, I’d never done anything like it in my life”

After the ride, Zeshan decided that he wanted to replicate the campaign in his own workplace. “I thought the best way to take action was to organise more rides. Talk to colleagues, talk to friends, talk to anyone I can about how easy it is. Just a small ride can start you on a much longer journey.” Zeshan set up five rides in London, across five different days. “We had about ten to fifteen riders on each of those rides, and it was amazing the impact you can have. What we found fascinating was that it took us out of our siloes. It built new networks and, suddenly, we realised how many of us there were.”

Inspired by the rides that Zeshan organised, other colleagues subsequently organised their own rides. “We are feeding off each other’s energy. We are supporting one another, and surprising ourselves. It’s always inspiring to see the breadth and the diversity of these rides.”

Ride for their Lives

Zeshan has now taken part in many cycle rides in the Ride for their Lives campaign. He is particularly interested in promoting active travel and tackling air pollution. “It is important that people in the healthcare profession promote this message”, he said, “it just takes a small amount of encouragement to get people to take action”.

Cycling, he believes, is the perfect place to start. “The problem is so big and it grows bigger every day, but you have to take the first step. A few years ago, I didn’t own a bike. And now look at what I am doing.” Zeshan is now part of a sustainability team within his hospital, where he is a champion of cycling and other means of active travel. They are encouraging colleagues to cycle to work, reduce waste, and think about the climate impacts of all their practice. “It’s in its infancy”, Zeshan says, “but it has to be something we build properly.”

Zeshan is helping to grow the movement around Ride for their Lives. He is planning to go on many more rides and keep spreading the message. “It’s been a great journey”, he says.