A TEAM of council employee cyclists took to the road recently to spread awareness of climate change.

The 20 members of council staff, led by environmental health officer Mark Walsh, pit their skills against an electric car in a marathon effort between Dumbarton and Clydebank.

The group were helped along by a closure for gas works on Castlegreen Street in Dumbarton, which meant the car had to take the long way around to reach the A82.

It took just 25 minutes for the eight-mile cycle from council headquarters on Church Road to Aurora House in Clydebank.

The car, driven by Shindi Bassi and Lyn Sedgeworth, arrived five minutes after the cyclists - losing the race in the process, despite using the method of transport favoured by the masses at this time.

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Mark was behind the event, in an effort to highlight the environmental and health benefits of cycling ahead of Clean Air Day, which is on June 20.

The day is part of a national campaign - run by Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS) - in a bid to encourage people to leave their cars at home for one day a year.

Mark said: “I cycle to work and live in Dumbarton so I knew the route and knew it could be a lot faster than by car.

“Winning the ‘race’ showed the health benefits of cycling and that it is often quicker than travelling by car, and less polluting too.

“It’s possible for me to cycle between our two offices to attend meetings in a quicker time than in a car and we are considering buying an eBike that would encourage people to cycle at work.”

It didn’t take much for Mark to put a team together to take part - just a flyer around the office to recruit people.

He said: “I know quite a few people in the council are keen cyclists and we have good facilities for those who cycle into work, including a cycle to work scheme, shower facilities and a bike shed.

“Normally there are only a few bikes in the shed, but it was full when I arrived before the race which shows how much the Clean Air Day event inspired people.”

Shindi and Lyn are both also environmental health officers at WDC.

Shindi said: “The electric vehicle is really nippy and we thought we would be in with a chance of winning, but we had to go the long way round to reach the A82 due to the gas works in Castlegreen Street, which added an extra nine minutes to the journey time.

“We were then stuck in traffic at the east bridge in Dumbarton and then there were temporary traffic lights with traffic queued up behind.

“Although we ‘lost’ the race, it was a good laugh.”

Lyn added: “It was the right result all round as it shows the benefits of electric vehicles.

“We’ve got quite a few in the fleet at West Dunbartonshire Council, which benefits air quality in the local area.”

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John Bynorth, policy and communications officer at EPS, said: “This was a brilliant initiative to highlight the benefits of cycling over travel by car.

“Advances in technology and the increasing number of electric vehicle charge-points are making EV ownership a viable option.

“We would urge people to leave their car at home on Clean Air Day and help make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe.”