Editor note: Sadly, Dr Will Murray passed away unexpectedly in December 2016, just three months after this article was published. Read the article that announced his passing here.
Dr Will Murray is Research Director at eDriving FLEET, whose Virtual Risk Manager product has trained over one million fleet drivers from all types of organisations in 45 languages across 90+ countries.
Will has led on research, policy and practice in work-related road safety for over 20 years. He works with businesses, researchers, policy makers and NGOs in a range of regions around the globe.
In this interview Will shares details of his recent cycle ride from London to Paris, to raise funds for the road safety charity Brake.
Firstly, what are the benefits of cycling?
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 £¼ trillion 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.
Is cycling safe?
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 eight per cent increase in fatal and serious injuries to cyclists in Great Britain. 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.
Why did you decide to take part in a charity cycle ride?
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.
What did the ride involve?
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).
How was the experience overall?
Having completed the ride last month, about 330 miles in 4 days, 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.
What did you enjoy the most?
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’. I still love the commuting rides, and mountain biking with the kids, but the road biking has been great.
How was cycling in Paris?
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 tell, I am still buzzing from the experience, and would recommend it to anyone as a truly transformational experience.
Do you have any lasting tips or advice for anyone thinking of taking part in a charity cycle ride?
Definitely! Here are a few thoughts:
- 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.