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Olivia Dean
Olivia DeanCourtesy of VanMoof

Olivia Dean joins VanMoof’s e-bike revolution

The London singer tells Dazed about how swapping sweaty Tube rides for cycling improved her health and changed the city around her

Over the last couple of years, the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed how many of us think about work. From the “Great Resignation” to new WFH arrangements (see: comfy clothes and no more awkward small talk) city dwellers are increasingly asking themselves if the rat race is really worth it, and how we can make office cubicles and stuffy commutes a thing of the past.

In fact, when it comes to commuting, the answer is pretty much right there in front of us. In 2021, a survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with VanMoof revealed that 40 per cent of young adults in London think it’s more important that the city prioritises bike (or e-bike) travel in the wake of COVID-19, putting pressure on policymakers to develop infrastructure that prioritises cyclists’ safety and security, and makes space for cleaner, greener spaces to live and work.

“This data points to our cities having to evolve a more human-first and cycle-friendly future,” said VanMoof co-founder Taco Carlier at the time. “Contemporary culture is rejecting the car-centric highways of the past.”

Making the case for this two-wheeled utopia is the London-based musician Olivia Dean, who recently swapped sweaty car journeys and dingy Tube trips for travelling by VanMoof’s S3 e-bike. The positive effects on her physical and mental health, as well as the world around her, are captured in a new short film by Francis Plummer, titled Make Tracks to Make Change.

Following Dean over the course of a week – during which she travelled solely by VanMoof – the film sees the singer and songwriter at work in the studio, before jumping into the saddle for a quick ride to clear her head. (Ever tried mindfulness on the Central Line? Didn’t think so.) Elsewhere, she narrates how riding her e-bike helped unlock new places in the city and improve her sense of wellbeing, all while travelling between gigs, festival appearances, and nights out with friends.

“Cycling is a beautiful way of getting around,” Dean tells Dazed, looking back on her week. “Not only helping the environment but also helping yourself. I try and do it as often as I can, and usually it’s quicker.”

Of course, not everyone can ditch cars or public transport completely, but it’s getting much easier as cities slowly come around to the bike life post-pandemic – in 2020, 1,400 miles of bikes lanes were rolled out across Europe alone. And, as proven by Olivia Dean, e-bike companies are making healthy and sustainable travel increasingly realistic, with VanMoof’s latest models, the S5 and A5, billed as the industry’s most accessible rides yet.

Cycling is a habit I really want to keep up!” Dean says, summing up her experience with VanMoof. On daily journeys, she adds, she now checks how long it will take to get there by bike, and chooses that option “more often than not”.

However, she also wants to keep pushing herself to spend her free time on two wheels. “I like the challenge of longer cycle rides,” she says. “I really want to cycle somewhere beautiful, like Hampstead Heath, sit at the top of the hill and see where I’ve cycled.”

Watch Make Tracks to Make Change here.