Oxfordshire cyclists have come out on top ahead of cars, buses and motorcycles in a commuter challenge arranged by local cycling campaign group, Cyclox. Ten cyclists took part in the challenge from the town of Eynsham to Oxford’s Radcliffe square, a distance of around 7 miles.
Setting off at 7.45am, all the cyclists arrived at their destination before the first of their competitors who had used other modes of transport.
The fastest cyclist completed the trip in 21 minutes 21 seconds, traveling more than twice as fast as the first motorist to finish the journey, who took 44 minutes 40 seconds, with their time also including the walk from the location they had parked their car to Radcliffe Square.
James Styring, Chairman of Cyclox, said: “It is much quicker getting past the lines of traffic on a bike.
“One chap arrived in a suit and because he was on an electric bike, he is not even sweating. And while the fastest times came from keen cyclists, Lord Mayor Elise Benjamin was going at a normal commuter pace and it still only took her 34 minutes.”
The Oxford Mail said that Mr Styring, who writes the newspaper’s On Yer Bike column, had thought that the motorcylist might be the first to arrive.
“But as the rider stuck to the Highway Code and avoided dangerous manoeuvres, he was easily beaten by all the cyclists,” the newspaper added.
That comment was seized upon by one contributor to the comments who said: “That is because the cyclists did their usual dangerous manoeuvres, ignored the Highway Code, and mowed down a few pedestrians in the process.”
The quickest cyclist, Paul Warren, aged 32 from Freeland, was quick to reply, saying: “sorry to let facts get in the way of a good rant, but my time of 21 minutes was done by stopping at all red lights, only riding on the pavement where there was a marked cycle path, and obeying the Highway Code to the letter.”
He also confirmed that he had taken part in the trip as part of his normal daily commute and that he had as usual been carrying a laptop and change of clothes.
Mr Warren told the Oxford Mail: “The cars overtook me on the Farmoor Road, but I got past them on Botley Road.
“It is quite an intimidating road, but the vast majority of motorists are considerate to cyclists.”
Steve Unwin, aged 53, undertook the journey wearing a suit and had some battery assistance to aid his pedalling. “Electric bikes are great for people who don’t like headwinds or hills, or don’t want to dress up in lycra and get sweaty every morning,” he explained.
Meanwhile the city’s mayor gave her backing to cycling as a means of commuting. “I am quite a slow cyclist, but still I made a good time compared with the cars.
“Having seen the queues and queues of traffic, I believe there isn’t room for any more cars,” Ms Benjamin added.
“Just small improvements to cycle lanes could make it much more attractive to people to ride to work.”
Graham Smith, aged 65, from South Oxford, used the bus to complete the journey, taking 47 minutes 40 seconds. “It is a bit slow but you can meet people, talk to them, or read the paper. It is quite pleasant,” he reflected afterwards.
Previous commuter challenges organised by Cyclox in 2005 and 2006 both saw cyclists emerge as the winners.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.