Freya Wood

This month, we caught up with Freya Wood, Sustainability Project Manager at Swapfiets. She shares her thoughts on the future and challenges of the cycling industry. 

Can you tell me more about Swapfiets and your role?

Swapfiets is the world's first bicycle-as-a-service company, offering a monthly membership that includes a bike along with complimentary services. This kind of circular business model gives users a worry-free service that’s accessible.

As Sustainability Project Manager, my role is to embed sustainability continuously in the company. I do this by focusing on three pillars: circularity, climate, and social impact. At Swapfiets we believe sustainability shouldn’t only be in the sustainability team, but that it’s something that should be lived within the whole organization. I work together with all the teams to help achieve those goals.

We currently have around 1,100 employees and operate in eight European countries: Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Austria, the UK, and Belgium, and will soon celebrate our 10th anniversary. We offer both pedal bikes and electric bikes. It’s interesting to see more and more commuters using e-bikes.

What cycling trends are you most excited to see by the year 2030? And by 2050?

By 2030, I hope to see a shift towards less car-centric cities with a heightened focus on infrastructure that prioritizes people and bicycles. With initiatives like the European Cycling Declaration, I hope for further progress and continuous improvements as seen in cities like Paris and London.

Secondly, I hope to see brands becoming more circular and taking more responsibility. With new legislation, brands must be more transparent and need to make their products differently. I believe circularity and using materials differently is crucial in addressing the climate crisis.

Looking ahead to 2050, I hope to see cycling become more and more inclusive, catering to diverse needs and disabilities. I hope the future technology that’s going to come will support that.

What do you see as a major challenge in the cycling industry, and how can Cycling Industries Europe play a role in overcoming that challenge?

I see cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation, but it could be more circular. We and other brands should ask ourselves how we can make sure that we’re choosing the right materials, avoiding virgin materials, and designing things that are modular and made to last, to try to avoid landfill, starting from the design phase.

I really think it can be improved industry wide and Cycling Industries Europe plays a crucial role in this by fostering collaboration among various stakeholders. I see such an interest in people wanting to work towards this, but it cannot be done by one brand alone. Addressing these challenges requires collective effort, and by facilitating knowledge-sharing and collaboration, we can generate innovative solutions.

I like participating in Cycling Industries Europe’s Expert Groups, as the one on circularity yesterday. It’s insightful, gives ideas and brings opportunities for collaboration.


What or who in the cycling industry inspires you and why?

I'm inspired by movements like 'She's Electric' in the UK for example, aiming to get more women on e-bikes. I also like other initiatives promoting diversity within the industry and providing opportunities to underrepresented groups, such as those with disabilities or facing challenges in the labour market.


How did you get yourself in the cycling industry?

I originally studied biology, because of my interest in the environment and the climate crisis being so real. I wanted to see which role I could play and I studied sustainability, science and policy. Afterward, I really felt that business was where I wanted to be and looked for a business that was value driven. I love cycling, but I didn't really think it could be a career. I just saw this job opportunity at Swapfiets and applied and now I work here. It has made me even more of a cycling nerd than I was before I joined.

Can you describe in around 5 words how cycling is saving the world?

Wellness: Cycling and active movement contribute to your mental health and well-being.

Connectivity: It's a social activity and it gets you from A to B.

Fun: I love cycling. Commuting to work is so fun when you're on a bike.

Freedom: I love the fact that you can just hop on your bike and go somewhere.

Inclusivity: It is, should be and can be such a nice way to move around cities.