But it you want to garner publicity, you've got to be prepared to dress up and please the press. At this week's launch of the Northumbian Cycle Kingdom map, three Sustrans staffers gamely donned fancy dress and duly appeared in the local rag

It’s not every day you see a mermaid, a Roman soldier and a badger riding bikes

The three staffers were persuaded to smile sweetly for a couple of press photographers (oh, and the BikeBiz snapper) at a photocall earlier this week at Vindolanda Roman Site close to the Hadrian’s Wall, Bardon Mill, Northumberland.

Jo Morrissey, community development officer for Sustrans North, wore the badger suit. Mary Lockie, a Sustrans research assistant was in a slightly cooler mermaid outfit (that’s a wig, by the way) and Andy Cope, the Sustrans North research and monitoring manager was dressed as a Roman soldier.

Why? To visually demonstrate the breadth of cycling opportunties in Northumbria. The badger represented the wildlife you might see, the mermaid represents the North East coast and the Roman soldier represents the Roman wall aspect of the region.

Photos appeared in the local press, but the captions didn’t actually mention why there were folks dressed up in costumes and on bikes. Not to worry, the basic message got through.

20 000 Northumbrian Cycle Kingdom maps have been printed and will be given away free at tourist information centres and other such venues.

The A3 fold-out leaflet highlights the linking of three Sustrans routes, forming a 220 mile circuit.

Bryn Dowson, Sustrans North Regional Manager, said:

"Northumbria’s Cycling Kingdom will provide an early opportunity to experience some of the newest Sustrans routes in the country. There will be something for everyone – experienced and novices alike."

Dowson is pictured below. He’s the one in civvies (top brass don’t wear fancy-dress costumes)!

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