Credit: Devon County Council

University pedals to victory in national cycle challenge

Intrepid staff from the University of Exeter have pedal-powered their way to victory in a national competition designed to encourage people to cycle, whether that be for fun, exercise or to work.

The near 300-strong peloton from the University beat off competition from more than 2,000 organisations nationwide to secure the yellow jersey in this year’s National Cycle Challenge.

In total, staff from the Streatham and St Luke’s campuses covered more than 32,000 miles –well over the circumference of the Earth - over the course of September as part of the challenge.

They secured top spot ahead of Lancaster City Council and Devon and Cornwall Police, who finished second and third respectively, as well as a host of other universities. The University wins a deluxe bike repair station and pump, from Cyclehoop, as well as a free cycle parking audit.

Furthermore, five participants from the University won various individual ‘spot’ prizes during the challenge including a cycling holiday for two to Wales, cycle equipment, cycle guide books and a voucher for use at local business Saddles and Paddles.

Hugh McCann, the University’s Director of Estate Services said: “The University is delighted to have won the Love to Ride cycle challenge and would like to congratulate all those staff who took part. Cycling forms an important part of the University’s Sustainable Travel Plan and we hope that this will encourage more staff to consider more sustainable travel options.”

The National Cycle Challenge is a free competition designed to encourage work colleagues to cycle throughout September. Riders earn points for each ride, and by encouraging others to take part, with the organisation with the most points at the end of the month securing the coveted prize.

Al Edmondson, who works at the University and was one of the top 10 participants for Exeter in the competition said: “There’s a great team spirit at Exeter, and that is demonstrated by winning this competition. Everyone who took part have encouraged others to get involved, and supported them along the way.

“Both Exeter and Devon have some stunning cycle routes and countryside, and anything that encourages people to pick up a bike is a great idea. It’s fantastic we won the national competition, and a real team effort by everyone who took part.”

Joel Smith, the University’s Travel Plan Coordinator, who coordinated the University’s challenge campaign and also took part said: “It is a fantastic achievement, and we are all delighted to have won the national competition.

“Cycling plays a key role in our work to promote active and sustainable travel and we actively encourage students and staff to cycle to and from our campuses, and this commitment is shown by coming out on top. There is no better way to celebrate than knowing that we have encouraged more people to cycle more often, and we will be doing all we can to support them to keep riding.

“As part of this commitment, we will be offering a range of initiatives for students and staff alike over the coming months, including guided rides, bike taster sessions, cycle confidence training, Dr Bike checks, and repair sessions.”

Marjolein Rijken, from the National Cycle Challenge event said: “The University of Exeter has done brilliantly to win the National Cycle Challenge. Over 500 organisations took part in the largest size category and the University won by a huge margin, while 293 members of the University rode a bike and recorded it on the site, riding 32,000 miles and saving 5,749kg of CO2!. It's testament to the great work the University - and Challenge Champion Joel Smith - are doing to promote cycling. Well done to everyone who took part!”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “Congratulations to the University of Exeter for topping both the Devon and national leader board for this year’s Cycle Challenge. The County Council has worked closely with the University over a number of years to support its commitment to encouraging sustainable travel, and it’s wonderful to see them successfully encouraging more of people to cycle.”

Date: 10 October 2016

Read more University News