Bike ride to Reach Fair

This article was published in 2010, in Newsletter 89.

The ride this year takes place on Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May 2010, assembling by the Fort St George on Midsummer Common between 9.00 and 10.30 a.m.. Copies of the ride leaflet are enclosed with some distributions of this newsletter. Please pass them on to friends or put them up as posters in your work places and bike parking. The front page of the Campaign’s website at will have links to full details about the event.

Last year’s ride was the biggest event we’ve ever organised, with 370 riders. Whether we beat that this year depends on the weather and how effective we are with our promotional work.

The ethos for the ride fits in nicely with this year’s National Bike Week strap line: ‘Everyday cycling for everybody’

We were offered the possibility of closing the road between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck. This is a section where the route is on-road. For some of it there is a narrow shared-use path, but that would be inadequate for the numbers of riders we’re expecting. We have decided not to accept the offer for several reasons. This sort of traffic management requires a contractor, and because of the way these things work nowadays they’d have to drive their truck all the way from Ipswich. Further, closure of the road would mean extra miles for the displaced motor vehicles – so our bike ride would have led to more vehicle miles, which kind of defeats the object. More importantly though, I think we felt that if you were cycling this route on any other day there would not be these sorts of measures in place. For many people this ride will be the first time they’ve ridden these sorts of distances on the road and so it might as well be a real experience.

It wasn’t the obvious or easy decision but if we’d accepted the offer it could have given the impression that it’s only safe to cycle on the roads if there are small armies of marshals stationed at every corner.

This has led to the establishment of an ethos for the ride:

  1. Cycling is a perfectly practical way for the whole family to get from Cambridge to Reach Fair and back.
  2. No motor vehicles should be used in the implementation of the ride or any of its ancillary events.
  3. All those travelling to or from the event are encouraged to do so either on a bike or by public transport.
  4. The ride is open to all and there is no registration or fee.
  5. It is not a sponsored ride – although individuals may do their own thing.
  6. Participants are encouraged to take responsibility for looking after themselves and others.
  7. The ride is organised and promoted by the Campaign, in partnership with other friendly bodies such as Cycle Cambridge.

This ethos fits in rather nicely with this year’s National Bike Week strap line: ‘Everyday cycling for everybody’.

Cycling with this number of people is never going to be a typical event. We do have to concern ourselves with vehicles overtaking long trains of cyclists. It can be quite uncomfortable when a car driver overtaking the train realises they have to pull across to let an oncoming vehicle pass. It’s a little unsettling, but there is plenty of visibility on the roads along here. The marshals are aware of this issue. The other factor is the sheep effect, where one cyclist just blindly follows the next one. That mostly results in one rider going into the back of another, and is just another way of people getting to know each other.

Simon Nuttall