National Bike Week review

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 25.

I don’t think I really believed the weather in National Bike Week – 12-20 June. The sun actually shone gloriously on most of our events, following the last two absolutely abysmal Bike Weeks. Here’s a roundup.

Dr Bike, Saturday

The fine weather during National Bike Week was not evident on the first Saturday, which featured Dr Bike and our regular stall. Despite some torrential rain, our brave Drs Bike were soon hard at work with their tools and checklists, examining bicycles, making adjustments, teaching and advising. Five or more ‘Doctors’ were kept fully occupied all day.

Our regular Stall was under cover and volunteers were kept busy handing out leaflets, selling merchandise and answering questions. We had advertised a route-planning service and received one enquiry – from three visitors wanting to cycle to Scotland! Several people asked whether Dr Bike would be in town for the whole week – or every Saturday. No. But could we find enough volunteers to run the event on both Saturdays next year? (Let us know if you could help.)

Willersmill Ride, Sunday

The first leisurely ride of the week saw the start of the week’s fine weather. The ride took in Grantchester and Haslingfield (favouring the concrete path through Cantelupe Farm rather than the bridleway) and on to Barrington with fine views from the top of Chapel Hill. Having refreshed ourselves with ice cream at Willersmill Wildlife Park we continued through Fowlmere and Thriplow. Although the sun was shining, the track between Thriplow and Whittlesford was muddy and not great for white shoes or a bicycle which has to be kept in a carpeted flat!

Near the end of the ride the leisurely aspect was taken literally when we opened a bottle of wine while admiring the view over Cambridge from the nature reserve at the top of Limekiln Road.

Commuter Race, Tuesday

photo photo
Martin at the start (left) and the finish (right) of the Commuter Race

Cambridge City Council organised their annual Bike versus Bus versus Car versus Pedestrian challenge once again – complete with police recognition so that, yes, they were allowed to call it a ‘race’. Contestants started from Newmarket Road Park & Ride site, and had to travel the 3 1/2 miles to the Guildhall in the city centre, obeying all traffic laws along the way. Campaign member Martin Lucas-Smith volunteered to be the cycling contingent.

The results were:

Time (minutes.seconds)
Park and Ride passenger
Car driver
Posing for a press photo after breakfast

Newmarket Road has major bus priority measures, yet even over 3 1/2 miles, cycling was still considerably quicker. Martin was instructed not to zoom along, and much to the astonishment of the press, he wasn’t even out of breath when he arrived.

The event received very good television and newspaper publicity. Well done to the City on a very effective event.

Cyclists’ Breakfast, Wednesday

This was the fourth year that Hobbs Pavilion have opened specially for Bike to Work Day, serving free breakfast to passing cyclists. We think around 120 people came this year, enjoying glorious weather and quality refreshments. Thank you to all at Hobbs Pavilion, and to the County Council’s Travelwise team, for making the event possible. And to Stephen at Hobbs Pavilion, we do hope that you have recovered from the trauma of being accused of saying ‘Me and my wife…’ in a local paper. We knew your grammar woz better than that!

Cycle Friendly Employers

A number of companies in the Cycle Friendly Employers Scheme organised events for Bike Week.

  • UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate) hired a bike mechanic to service staff bikes at each of its sites, and to run a cycle maintenance workshop.
  • On the Science Park, people keen to launch a Bicycle User Group invited cyclists to get together on Bike to Work Day. Campaign member Tibs’ AnthroTech recumbent tricycle with child trailer earned plenty of attention.
  • Cambridge University Press gave lots of publicity to our events, and National Bike Week in general, for which, thank you.
  • Addenbrooke’s Hospital offered staff two weeks free cycle hire, a lunch-time cycle advice clinic, free safety and mechanical checks and even free orange juice!

Sustrans wayside art

Seven go Sustrans in Norfolk, Sunday

We spent an enjoyable day in Norfolk trying out the National Cycle Network Hull to Harwich route between King’s Lynn and Hunstanton. The route is generally very well signposted, although a couple of signs had disappeared in the North Wootton area of King’s Lynn since my last visit. When the A149 path and crossing are completed this will be an excellent route for family cycling. We had lunch in Sandringham, saw a motte and bailey castle (Castle Rising), several fine churches (Ingoldisthorpe, Snettisham), sea views and enjoyed some lavender tea and lavender scones at Norfolk Lavender, Heacham before heading back to King’s Lynn and the train home.

Sarah Elsegood, Clare Macrae and Lisa Woodburn