Wacky commute in Swindon proves to be a close race
Buy this photo » The start of the Wacky commute from the Orbital retail park to Swindon train station on Tuesday morning. From left, Darran Reynolds, Chris Pailor, Sarah Day, Ellie Corcoran and Amy Martin
WHILE Swindon battled the regular rush hour traffic five commuters were tearing up the tarmac in a bid to beat each other to the train station.
The Wacky Commuter Race, organised by Swindon Travel Choices and travel charity Sustrans, aimed to raise awareness of the various travel options for getting to work in Swindon while demonstrating the benefits and disadvantages of each mode of transport.
A cyclist, jogger, car driver, taxi driver and a bus passenger arrived at the Orbital Centre in North Swindon bright and early at 8am to start the race to the railway station in the town centre.
Spectators and participants gathered at the fountain in the Orbital and, after counting down from 10, deputy mayor Coun Teresa Page (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton) bellowed the start of the race, which was about three miles in distance.
Competitors could choose any route they wanted to get to the railway station as quickly as they could, while obeying traffic laws and regulations.
Claire Fleming, of Swindon Travel Choices, said: “I think it went well. It was an interesting result too. Maybe if they had done it on Monday in all the traffic it would have been a different result.
“I think it will be great to do it again next year. I’d quite like more volunteers to come forward and it was good to see a range of different transports.
“Next year it would be good to include someone on a scooter or somebody spacehopping or doing it on roller blades.”
The race was close, with taxi driver Sarah Day crossing the finish line just one second before cyclist Amy Martin, followed by driver Chris Pailor and jogger Darran Reynolds.
Ellie Corcoran, who took the bus, brought up the rear just 13 minutes after the winner screeched in.
Sarah was delighted about her win, after taking the route down Thames Avenue, through Rodbourne and Ferndale, although she did not take advantage of the bus lanes and the in-car radio to check traffic and beat the queues.
Sarah, 39, from Rodbourne, said: “It’s good the traffic wasn’t too bad, although there was a little bit which held me up.”
But the race wasn’t just about crossing the finish line first; it was also about evaluating other benefits and disadvantages of each mode, such as calorie burn, productive time, stress levels, cost and safety.
Cycling was one of the least stressful journeys, said Amy Martin, who came a very close second behind Sarah.
She said: “I am actually really impressed I was that close. Lots of people think that it’s really tiring and will take a long time but I really didn’t go that quickly.
“I did have to cross two junctions but it was quite quiet – there are crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
“I actually passed the taxi twice, which kept the pressure up and made it quite exciting.”
Darran Reynolds, who was running the route to the station, was enthusiastic about the race after completing the London Marathon last year.
He said: “I was hoping I might be able to nip the taxi driver. I went quite quickly to start with.
“I don’t think it’s something you could do every day but certainly once or twice a week, especially if you have a shower at work.”
Coun Page, who started the race and met the competitors at the railway station forecourt, said: “It’s good for the town to tell people about the other options they can use to get to work.
“It was nice to see young people taking the opportunity to try different ways of travelling.”
All the action from the morning was recorded in the Adver’s live blog and on Twitter using #rushhourrace.
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