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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK
Bike Week aims at commuters
Bike riders
Bike riders aged from eight to 75 took part in the event 43-2-C
Getting commuters to leave their cars behind and take to the streets on two wheels is the challenge facing Bike Week supporters throughout Wales.

Fun rides, bike to work days, club days, free safety checks and even a Le Man-style circuit event are planned in Wales this week.

But despite the enthusiasm from councils and clubs, there are only 44 events taking place during Bike Week in Wales.

Around 1,400 are planned in the UK.

Sometimes I have to take the car and it's torture being stuck in a queue
Chris Gibbon

Swansea is one council which is keen to see its commuters change their habits.

Employee Chris Gibbon has been commuting to work by bike for five years, notching up 100 miles of cycling every week.

His 20-mile plus round-trip from West Cross in Swansea to Clydach takes place in all weathers.

"I use the promenade at Swansea Bay, it is lovely, it is nice to get away from the cars and the congestion," he said.

"I have also biked in the snow, you just have to be careful," said Mr Gibbon, a veteran triathlete.

"I do it for training and because I didn't want to buy a second car just to go back and for to work.

"Sometimes I have to take the car and it's torture being stuck in a queue of cars," he added.

Swansea council's cycling and walking officer Rob Wachowski hopes people will take up the challenge to park and ride this week - but use their bikes - rather than the bus - from the Fabian Way site.

People can park their cars at the Fabian Way Park and Ride and then cycle into the city centre using the cycle track which runs along the new Sail Bridge over the Tawe.

Mr Wachowski, is also a bike commuter, said: "I can get from Dunvant to County Hall in 20 minutes, I come down the Clyne Valley Trail, sometimes when I go along the road route I pass all the traffic."

Last Sunday saw the Cwmtawe Cycle Group organising 250 bike riders to cycle from Clydach down to the Dylan Thomas Centre for the 43-2-C bike ride.

Cyclists in Swansea, picture courtesy of Swansea Council
250 people took part in the 43-2-C ride

The seven-mile ride - 43 to the Sea - which refers to the National Cycle Network Route number 43, went along the Swansea Valley by the river Tawe and finished at the Dylan Thomas Centre.

"It showed people how easy it is to get down using the route, although there was a log jam because of the number of bike riders," said Mr Wachowski, 50.

Mr Wachowski, who has biked all his life, said the challenge he faces is getting younger women to be interested in bike-riding.

"They are not interested. But it would be great to have some fashion icon to get them on their bikes," he said.

Uphill struggle

Mr Wachowski said the onset of Wimbledon gets many people reaching for their tennis rackets - but Tour de France has not had the same impact, especially as it has gone from terrestrial television.

But the future for cycling may be looking brighter with five travel plan co-ordinators being brought in to find more sustainable ways of getting to and from the office.

A total of 3.5m has also been given to a scheme to get cycling or walking to schools adopted across Wales.

Here are a cross-section of your views on cycling to work:


I commute 18 miles from Upminster to City every day. Bike 54 minutes, Car 1hour 30, train 45 minutes (include walking each end) and 145 pounds a month. No brainer. Get a decent bike and stop making exuses about too much traffic until you have tried it. Live longer, live better!!!
Haj, London, UK

My friend and I took to cycling to work this February having put on a bit of extra weight over Christmas and have hardly missed a day's cycling since. We are very fortunate since we have the wildlife centre to cycle through and dont need to use the busy main road!! The three mile journey to work takes just 10 minutes with breathtaking views on the way, of the River Teifi and the buffalos (of course). It takes 15-20 minutes to cycle back home at night with a gentle uphill rise! We have both managed to lose some weight as a result and we now feel exhilarated and ready for work at 9am!
Carys Hamilton, Cilgerran, Cardigan, Pembs

I've been cycling to work for the last 15 years, always along roads. I can't imagine driving. When I bought my house I made sure itwas within easy cycling distance and long walking distance of work, i.e. three miles. To keep fit I detour on the way home, anything up to 20 miles or further on the Wednesday night run, plus weekend tours and audax rides of course. If someone tells you they can ride two miles then they can usually cycle 20 with a bit of gentle encouragement.
Gareth Blake, Cardiff

Those who say they won't cycle to work because of the busy roads to justify their car use are just being silly and using a bad excuse to justify their reliance on the car. I should know - I spent 10 years cycling to and from work, sometimes as far as 10 miles a day through all kinds of weather. Then I passed my driving test (About two months ago) and have I been on my bike since....Of course not! I drive because it's convenient, it's quick and it's fun. I feel terrible about this, and worse this week because I promised myself I would get back on my bike this Monday.
Donna, Newport

12.5 miles each way from South West London to the City. Done over 6500 miles commuting through London now. I'm starting to wear a groove along the Embankment.
Robert Pritchard, London, UK

I have a 30km round-trip for my cycle commute for work. The most direct and scenic route would take you through an RSPB reseve - if the wardens in their trucks would allow it (they don't).

Cycling in all weathers requires the right gear to wear, and the right facilities at work. It can be difficult to gain the momentum required to cycle-commute but the results are worthwhile. And I take the Hayling Ferry home.
Neil Cater, Southsea

3.5 miles each way to the station, although previous employment was 6 miles direct to work. I ride all year round in all weather and never regret it. It makes a noticable difference in both physical and mental fitness and is just what I need in the morning. Only problem is the stupid cycle lanes on the B road I have to use - they vary from 2ft to 6 inches (no joking!), suddenly end where the road narrows and are mostly blocked by sunken drains from the last resurfacing job. Motorists generally behave on the unmarked sections but seem to think it's OK to get as close as they like on the marked bits, so long as they don't cross the line.
Tony Smith, Abergavenny, UK

I do a seven mile each way commute through East London and The City. My fitness levels have improved and I save over 100 a month. I also arrive at work far more alert and invigorated than if I travel by tube. Cycling is faster in London than any other means of transport (bar helicopter!)
Philip Walsh London

i'd love to be able to cycle to and from work, but getting between my home and my place of work in cardiff bay involves riding some very busy roads with very little safety margin. because of this i regretably take the car.
Dave, Barry, Wales

About a year ago, I moved out of Oxford to a small village in the area to save money on rent. Moving out of comfortable walking distance meant that I either had to rely on a rather occaisional bus service, or get on my bike. Needless to say, I chose the latter.

I really love cycling to and from work, especially in the great weather we have been experiencing recently. Not only is cycling keeping me fit, but it saves me a LOT of money.

However, thanks to the ridiculous number of buses running routes around Oxford, it can be a little scary at times. The key is not to give them room to overtake unless you are sure there is plenty of it, and you won't be forced into the back of a parked car, or the pavement. Maybe the thought of battling with cars, vans and buses puts a lot of people of cycling?
Andrew Palmer, Oxford

My commute takes me from the Skewen end of Birchgrove into the city centre. Doing about 60 miles a week, I have various routes I can take using cycleways and quiet roads, although sometimes I go partly on the main roads and partly through a series of shortcuts where the cars can't, just to show them that the bike is quicker.

Cars pass me on Peniel Green Road, then get held up at lights and junctions and then they pass me again on the Enterprise park, get held up at the new stadium roadworks while I tootle by on the cyclepath. Great fun! I'm going 50, feeling only 14 when I'm on my bike.
Martin Heaven, Swansea, Wales

I cycle occasionally from home to work in Brunel House in Cardiff City center.It is approx 19-25 miles each way depending on roadworks on the A470 or if i travel on the Taff Trail. I am just starting to get back into cycling to and from work to get fitter and lose my gut.I used to live in Caerphilly and cycled back and forth to work everyday totaling over 120 a week.It is fun and good for you as long as you are careful and know that not everyone, whether another cyclist or a motorist are as careful as you.
Dave Hawke, Edwardsville, Treharris

I have a fairly easy 3 mile journey to work. I take it easy and usualy do the trip in 15 to 20 minutes. There are a few cycle nuts in work, all lycra and shorts (you know the type)who cycle a lot further than I do. I don't try to keep up with them! There is only one short section of my journey that is on a busy road. I try to cycle all year round. In winter it can be a struggle, especially when it is cold as I start work at 7:30am before the day has started to warm. In the summer the early morning dawn is a real treat. I think if I had major hills or very busy roads to cycle along I would not cycle as much as I do. I feel rather fortunate to be able to cycle to work. I think it important that workplaces provide facilities for cyclist. For many people a car or public transport is the only option. Pity them.
Paul Cullen, Llanelli Carmarthenshire

I cycle eight miles each way to work. Yes, it can be a pain on wet days, or in the current sticky Japanese weather. However, the journey in the morning is great for clearing my mind and burning my breakfast. The return home ( a gradual incline ) is a joy as I cruise past all those other commuters stuck in their cars. I also have thighs like tree trunks and an early morning pulse of 44 bpm. Can't beat it!!
David James, Kyoto, Japan

I do an easy 3miles each way. Whilst I like cycle paths for times when I'm cycling with the family, I prefer to explore the roads in the area. It's also worth remmebering that we already have an extensive network of cycle routes. They're called roads and we have the right to be on them and expect consideration from other road users
Kev Mears, Pontypridd, Wales

I cycle 18 miles a day from Penarth to North Cardiff. Its almost as quick as the car but I wish the councils would think of cyclists when they lay down speed humps (buckled wheels)and create cycle areas at the front of junctions (how do you get to them when there is no path marked on the road)
Rob Morgan, Penarth Wales

Cycle 20 miles each way every day? You must be joking. What i can't understand is why people get so annoyed by being stuck in a traffic queue. Just put on some relaxing music, chill out and enjoy the nice weather, after all there is nothing you can do to speed everyone else up so why worry about it?
Stephen , Cardiff

My bike ride to work is a modest 2 miles each way, encompassing busy road, quiet road, then a nice section through the park. No particular problems, though you have to have your wits about you, as people on foot tend to wander from side to side of the path through the park, and on the busy section of road drivers tend to come out of the side road without looking. I'm also fortunate that I have no security problems at work - the bike comes into my office with me. It takes about the same time as using the car, which I do when the weather is particularly bad or I have a lot to carry.

More generally, cycle paths are useful but only up to a point. Obviously, you have to get to and from them on ordinary roads, which may not be worth doing if the cycle path only covers a small part of your journey - depending where you are going, using one may mean a long detour. Many of them are littered with broken glass anyway.

So I wasn't pleased yesterday when I was waiting at traffic lights and a woman in the car behind started berating me for not using the nearest cycle path (no good for where I was going), and not wearing a helmet (I never do).
Ann Lyon, Swansea

My bike ride to work is a modest 2 miles each way, encompassing busy road, quiet road, then a nice section through the park. No particular problems, though you have to have your wits about you, as people on foot tend to wander from side to side of the path through the park, and on the busy section of road drivers tend to come out of the side road without looking. I'm also fortunate that I have no security problems at work - the bike comes into my office with me. It takes about the same time as using the car, which I do when the weather is particularly bad or I have a lot to carry.

More generally, cycle paths are useful but only up to a point. Obviously, you have to get to and from them on ordinary roads, which may not be worth doing if the cycle path only covers a small part of your journey - depending where you are going, using one may mean a long detour. Many of them are littered with broken glass anyway.

So I wasn't pleased yesterday when I was waiting at traffic lights and a woman in the car behind started berating me for not using the nearest cycle path (no good for where I was going), and not wearing a helmet (I never do).
Ann Lyon, Swansea

I cycle nearly five miles each way to and from work, up and over Swansea's hills, every day (near enough). Though my return journey can go up to 10 miles, and the record's 18 on a fine summer afternoon! Usually on road, though I might occasionally take the namby-pamby cycle-paths part way; but then a bit of traffic doesn't scare me, I've been cycling on-road for 30 years now.
Michael Sandy, Swansea, Wales

I'm a recent convert to commuting to work. I live in Newport and work in St. Mellons. I choose the quieter route through St Brides to get to work. There is a short cut I could take along the Percoed Reen, starting close to ASDA in Newport. Unfortunately it is all overgrown and impassable now.
Glen Perry, Newport, Wales

In my previous job, I used to cycle to work every day in summer and winter. It took me about 15 minutes, if i had a car it would have taken about 40 minutes and spend money to look for parking spaces near the workplace.
Caerwyn Williams, Cardiff

I cycle to work every day in sun, rain or snow - a distance of six miles each way mainly along the Taff Trail. The first 3/4 mile I have my daughter on the back of the bike as I take her to the child-minders each morning. It's the best mode of transport. The few occasions I have to use a car drive me mad. It takes longer to drive in at rush hour anyway!
Julian Carter, Cardiff

At least I have some choice of route, but anyone wishing to design a cycling-oriented facility needs to make it possible to do the same 20mph plus I do on the road and safer to make it a more attractive option than the road. Two lines of paint in the gutter or directly in the target range of people opening car doors is not a solution. Two wheels good, four wheels slower!
Martin, Cardiff, UK

I cycled 12 miles to work this morning for the first time as part of National Bike week. I can honestly say that I was thoroughly knackered, but after a shower and a bit of brekky I feel great. I intend to keep this up to improve my fitness and reduce my impact on the atmosphere. I hope others will follow suit.
Scott, Southampton, UK

The only problem with riding to work is, it's nice to be out on my bike in the fresh air, but I always end up at work!
Rhys, Cardiff

I cycle to work two to three times a week (five miles each way). Probably the biggest problem for most cyclists is the lack of changing and showering facilities provided by their employers.
Leighton, Neath

I cycle to work most days- about six miles, and usually use the cycle paths around Swansea. I really enjoy it plus it keeps me fit. The only downside is dog walkers who seem to let their dogs loose and expect you to be able to dodge them.
Andrew, Swansea.

What are needed are more routes like the Taff Trail: Scenic, safe etc. More unused rail lines should be converted to this purpose, if they haven't already been spoilt by development.
Dave, Oakland, CA, USA

In January I bought a bike, and started cycling a 21 mile round trip into Cardiff every day along the Taff Trail. In February I got rid of my car. I'm now fitter and richer. Commuting by bicycle isn't possible or practical for everyone, but if it is for you then do it!
Chris, Cardiff




SEE ALSO:
Mountain bike trails cash worries
02 May 04  |  North West Wales
Park staff paid to go by bike
25 Nov 03  |  South West Wales


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