Meet our trusty treasurer Rick Hughes
My wife’s work moved us to Bicester from Sheffield in October 2019. This was quite an uprooting after 30 years in one place, but it seemed sensible to make the most of this change and find out what opportunities presented themselves in a new and unexplored (at least for us) land, flat, conservative and “southern” according to rumour.
Having survived to my mid sixties as a cyclist in London, Gloucestershire, Birmingham and Sheffield my immediate impression was of Bicester’s manageable scale, relatively quiet roads and lack of steep hills (Sheffield, like Rome, is said to have seven of them). I was also impressed by the good cycle paths which I gradually discovered, although the way many of them suddenly start and finish without any apparent logic suggested unconnected bursts of goodwill towards cyclists, or pots of money which had to be spent on cycling before the end of the financial year. I was familiar with this from a career in the health service.
As a newcomer it wasn’t easy to find a map of the cycle infrastructure but an enquiry at Broadribbs produced a leaflet about the recently formed BicesterBUG. I made contact and from early 2021 I look back with nostalgia to a face to face meeting with George, with coffee and cake at the shared workspace at Elmsbrook in the pre Covid days of late 2019. He was pleased to find someone with some time and interest to offer, so made a note that I could be called on as the group took shape.
Riding a bike has always been part of my life and the film “Why We Cycle” screened by BicesterBUG in 2020 resonated strongly for me, articulating many of my own experiences. When I was a child my father and grandfather (though strangely not my mother) had bikes in the shed and used them as day to day tools. Learning to ride a two wheeler, getting a new bike, passing the cycle proficiency test were developmental milestones, and at about ten being able to ride right round the block on our housing estate without touching your handlebars was a status symbol amongst my peers (I don’t think my parents ever knew about this). Even now a small part of me applauds the kids doing wheelies in all the wrong places, but perhaps I should not admit this. As a teenager bikes made it easier to see my friends and because we lived in a small town in less congested times this was a way that my parents were able to give me more responsibility as time went by. As an adult I have commuted and shopped by bike when possible as well as going on cycling holidays in the UK, France and Belgium.
I have a car but a journey by bike or train (or both) always seems more interesting as well as more environmentally friendly. In short I enjoy cycling, it generally enriches a journey in all sorts of ways and I would like more people to discover this win/win activity. I find myself particularly interested in the development and publicising of a cycle network, as envisaged by the recent Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). This could make riding seem much more feasible to people who have not yet made it an option . I don’t have any prior experience of campaigning, nor of how local government works or accounting, so the workings of BicesterBUG are new and interesting territory. Bicester has so many factors in its favour as a cycling town that it seems worth trying to nudge it into the Champions League.