Half way around the world on a bicycle

The Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge is complete!

Hundreds of people from Bridgwater collectively cycled over 16,000 miles in the Love to Ride Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge – the equivalent of cycling over half way around the world. As part of the challenge, 35 people took to a bike for the first time in over a year.

The three week competition between workplaces aimed to introduce as many new people to cycling as possible. 304 people from 31 organisations competed in workplace teams to clock up the greatest percentage of staff taking part. In total, more than 1579 journeys were recorded: a total of over 16,242 miles cycled.

The Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge successfully encouraged hundreds of people to take to their bikes and discover the joys and benefits of cycling while doing their bit to help with easing congestion and pollution within the town. Participants logged their cycling online and a variety of prizes were on offer for individuals and teams, from a Spa Day, a Cookery Day, a 3-course meal to a £500 bike. Cinema tickets were awarded to those riding for the first time in a year or more and to those who encouraged them to get back on a bike for the Challenge.

Two years ago, Tracey Healy went along to a 4-mile Skyride for fun. Now Tracey cycles more than 100 miles a week!

Tracey said: “The Bridgwater Way has made a huge difference to my life. Not only has the project taught me so much about cycling, helped me to get fit, save money, reduce my carbon footprint, but I’ve also had so much fun – especially the two ‘Neon Bike Rides’ which they organised.

“I used to be very frightened of cycling in traffic. But after going along to the cycling confidence training, I learned how to ride safely in traffic. Most vehicles are respectful to cyclists but you just need to be aware of those that don’t notice you. I always used to cycle the long-way around, to avoid roads, but now I feel comfortable taking the direct routes.

“This year, I signed up to The Bridgwater Way Cycle Challenge, and I cycled 287 miles. I love joining the Somerset Levellers social rides on Friday and Sunday evenings, as well as the Somerset Saddle Warmers on Saturday mornings. It’s a good way to meet people and make friends.”

Councillor David Fothergill, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Somerset County Council, said: “I welcome the excellent response to the Challenge from both local businesses and their employees. It all helps to reduce congestion on our roads, besides being good fun and an aid to fitness and good health!”

The Bridgwater Cycle Challenge is just one of many activities from The Bridgwater Way project, funded by the Department for Transport. The initiative is transforming travel in the town, making travel options clearer, easier and safer. As well as developing miles of new and improved cycle paths, TBW works with residents, businesses and schools to promote safer travel. The project is being delivered through a partnership of Somerset County Council, Sustrans and Sedgemoor District Council.

The Bridgwater Way is a £4 million project, being led by Somerset County Council in partnership with Sustrans and Sedgemoor District Council. Funding has come from the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), successfully bid for by Somerset County Council and Sustrans. Visit the website at www.thebridgwaterway.co.uk

Other aspects of the project include:

  • Businesses travel planning – Work with businesses in the town to improve the commute to work through new bike lock ups and facilities, cycle safety training for staff and preparing for major investment such as the Colley Lane Link
  • Bike It Plus (provided by Sustrans) – Work with schools to encourage pupils to be more active on their journey to school and to promote cycling, scooting and walking as an alternative to the car
  • Sky Ride Local (provided by British Cycling/Sky) – Free British Cycling-guided rides for different abilities throughout the summer and into October. For more information and to register for these and future rides, visit www.goskyride.com
  • Cycle services – Help and training for cycle repairs and maintenance is being given to schoolchildren across the area through the popular Dr Bike scheme

This sort of support is also available to businesses in the area through a ‘repair and ride’ scheme which can tackle up to 20 bikes at a time.

Anyone can also take part in a cycle training and road safety session. These can be tailored to all abilities and ages can be on a one-to-one basis, or to a small group or family.