PENELOPE Pitstop and Dick Dastardly would have loved the commuter challenge into Oxford yesterday.

But this wacky race had a serious purpose.

About 40 competitors set off from Eynsham shortly before 8am, tasked with timing how long it would take them to get to Queen Street, Oxford.

They rode on bicycles, rollerblades and motorbikes, in cars and in buses, and ran along the roads and fields.

The event was organised by Bikesafe West Oxfordshire, which is campaigning for a four mile cycle path along the B4044 Eynsham Road.

Co-organiser Ian Leggett said: “It has been fantastic. We had a lot of people turning up which shows the strength of feeling.

“Congestion is so bad that we thought anything but a 4x4 would beat the bus into town.”

The first competitor to reach Queen Street was 54-year-old Steve Unwin on an electric bike, followed seconds later by cyclist Jean Metson.

Mr Unwin, who clocked a time of 22 minutes, said: “I use the bike whenever I can.

“The path on the B4044 would be of great benefit for people in Eynsham, Oxford and beyond.”

The challenge aimed to show the benefit of building a community path alongside the B4044 to cut danger to cyclists and speed up journey times.

The first car arrived in Oxford in 52 minutes, followed a moment later by people who had travelled by bus.

In all, 22 bicycles, two motorbikes and two rollerbladers arrived before the car drivers and those using public transport.

Rollerblader Dave Edwards from Yarnton, who arrived in 35 minutes, said: “It was wet. I was doing five minutes a mile but had to use the A40 because we can’t take the direct route.

“Rollerblades are the quickest way to get around Oxford. There’s no point using public transport, it’s too slow.”

Edward James, from Eynsham, was the quickest car driver into Oxford. He said: “This is my regular commute. You just get used to sitting in standstill traffic.”

Bikesafe West Oxfordshire commissioned a study from cycle lobby group Sustrans which showed the path along the B4044 would cost £800,000.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood handed out medals to finishers.

She said: “It’s a very challenging commute and this is such a good way of showing the range of concerns from different commuters.”

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “Clearly a lot of work has gone into the challenge and testing different types of commuting and the idea has received great attention.

“However there is very little funding available for relatively high cost new schemes like the one being called for.”

Richard Gregory, who rollerbladed the whole way, said: “It was wet and even though we went the longer, safer way round the A40, it was still quite dangerous.”

Organisers of the event said it had been a time trial, rather than a race, with all competitors adhering to the speed limits and obeying the Highway Code.


Electric bicycle – 22 minutes

Bicycle – 22 minutes

Motorbike – 22.5 minutes

Rollerblades – 35 minutes

Car – 52 minutes

Bus – 52 minutes

Running – 54 minutes

(Times for Eynsham to Oxford)