Cycling for road safety in support of Brake
Dr Will Murray, a trustee of Brake, the road safety charity, cycled from London to Paris to raise money to support the work Brake do in saving lives and supporting bereaved and injured families. Here he describes his journey and looks at how cycling can benefit not only our health, but the economy.
The ‘Economic Cycle’ study published by the University of Leeds, showed that bikes brings many benefits for the environment and economy, with increasing cycle use paying for itself many times over. A strong economic case was identified for investing in bicycle use, with growth in cycling from 2% to 10% of journeys worth a quarter of a trillion pounds to the UK economy by 2050.
Cycling is brilliant for bringing out your ‘inner child’, is mostly inoffensive to others, and for people in middle age causes much less bodily wear and tear than running. For this reason, and its growing profile as a sport, cycling has rapidly increased in popularity.
Not all in the garden is rosy, as exposure brings increased risk. Casualties have grown more steeply than bicycle use, and 2013-14 saw an 8% increase in fatal and serious injuries to cyclists. This means that we need to create the conditions where cycling becomes a safe and normal travel option, building up a critical mass of cycle use, which research shows makes sharing the road easier and better for everyone.
As a cyclist for almost all of my 51 years, as well as a long term advocate for smart mobility and better travel choices, it was through a road safety newsletter about a year ago that an advert to cycle from London to Paris to raise funds for Brake jumped off the page at me.
Having completed the ride last month, about 330 miles in 4 days, I wanted to recommend the experience to others and tell the story while I’m still ‘buzzing’ from the experience. Doing something for the greater good, and raising funds for charity has made me feel great about myself, and the cycling was awesome too.
Here is a day by day summary, which was made easy and fun by organisers Epic Adventures:
• Day 1 London to Dover (about 90 miles).
• Day 2 Calais to Lens (90 miles).
• Day 3 Lens to Compiegne (85 miles, including lots of moving WW1 grave stops on the Somme).
• Day 4 - Compiegne to Paris (70 miles).
In truth, the ride itself was only part of the story. I’ve loved every second of the experience, from the first nine mile training ride on a dark Monday night in January onwards. It has raised money for Brake (almost £2,000) and made me lots of new cycling friends both locally and through work. It also meant I ‘had to’ invest in an awesome new road bike and loads of lycra. In that time, I’ve evolved from a commuting cyclist to a middle aged man in lycra or MAMIL. Still love the commuting rides, and mountain biking with the kids, but the road biking has been great.
The Paris trip itself was brilliant. I cycled much of it with my new bromance - Gary from Sheffield! We roomed together on the first night and spent the next three days cycling and chatting. So many great experiences. About 10 of us cycled the last 15 miles in a ‘posse’ through Paris and it was joyous. As you can see, I'm still buzzing from the experience, and would recommend it to anyone as a truly transformational experience.
Some thoughts to finish off:
• Cycling is a great sport and way to travel – with benefits to individuals, the economy, environment and society.
• If you are thinking of doing something for charity, with lots of spin-offs for yourself personally, then do not wait – go for it.
• Brake advocates for a great cause, and their staff have been highly supportive through the whole process.
• Lots of people have been extremely generous with sponsorship, guidance on bikes, going out cycling, listening to me talking about how great it has been, and much more. BIG thanks to them all.
• You can still sponsor me via: www.justgiving.com/drwillmurray or text MURR97 £?? to 70070.
• Even better, contact Brake to talk about volunteering or fundraising yourself – and having the experience of a lifetime.