As well as helping Swindon Bicycle Users Group (BUG) with its website, I am also the travel plan officer for Swindon Borough Council.
I spent 18 years in Nottingham, which has a good reputation for cycling, but when I moved to Swindon in 2008 I was pleasantly surprised at how much network there is already on the ground, and how well it is being integrated into new development as Swindon grows.
Swindon received £4million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) in 2011 and has set up a project called Swindon Travel Choices.
Successes are the loan scheme, where people can borrow a new bike for eight weeks to try cycling to work, and the “rounds” – a series of seven-mile off-road routes devised by the Swindon BUG.
There’s a good relationship between the BUG and the council; our lead member for transport and leisure (Cllr Keith Williams) is a keen cyclist and champion for the cause. We run weekly bike maintenance courses, which are over-subscribed with a growing waiting list, plus training in schools and one-to-ones for adults.
Swindon grew up in the 60s and 70s as a car town and the road layout in the town centre is a little hostile to cyclists, something we are battling to make better.
The LSTF money has enabled some small infrastructure changes, while a major regeneration project in the town will further improve things. However, busy roads with no cycle paths cut off towns on Swindon’s outskirts, such as Royal Wootton Bassett and Highworth, and due to the distance it’s proving tricky to fund the connections.
The original version of this article appeared in the Novemer 14 2013 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.