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Cyclist Wants To Encourage Others By Offering Free Training

Published on: 11 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 28 Jan, 2015

A keen cyclist from Guildford is planning to offer free cycle training as he believes that more people would ride a bike if they had the confidence and road awareness.

Terry Duckmanton, who lives off the Aldershot Road, says: “Now that I have retired, I have time available to carry out a small scale experiment to see what happens when people are offered free cycle training.

Terry Duckmanton pictured in the slip road off Aldershot Road near the shops and Southway.

Terry Duckmanton pictured in the slip road off Aldershot Road near the shops and Southway.

“What I can offer is training to a group of five or six people in the Westborough area of Guildford. If you live within walking or cycling distance of the Co-op shop on Aldershot Road, then you could be one of them. The offer is open to everyone living in this area, if you would like to be able to cycle into town and back on your own – after suitable training of course.”

Terry says he is always amazed by the fact that so few people in the UK use bicycles for transport. He adds: “We are constantly being told that lack of exercise is very bad for our health and is costing the NHS an awful lot of money, but as a nation we continue to default to the family car as the normal form of transport.

“The average home to work distance for most people in the UK was nine miles in 2011 (from census data), a distance which can easily be cycled, but very few do. For the last 13 years of my working life I was cycling 11 miles each way between Guildford and Effingham, except in high winds or heavy snow. This saved me a lot of money and kept me reasonably fit and, as a bonus, commuting was actually fun.”

At that time Terry worked at a school. He says that some parents were keen that their children should be capable of cycling to school and enrolled them on an after school Bikeability ( course which was provided by a group of staff members who had been trained as National Standard Cycling Instructors.

Terry adds: “I was a member of this group and enjoyed watching the trainees blossom into capable cyclists who were able and indeed willing to mix in with the traffic in and around Effingham. Sadly, this course was offered only to students, and the parents had to contribute to the cost of training.

“I often wonder what the take-up would have been if the course had been totally free of charge to both students and parents. I like to think that we would have been totally overwhelmed by the number of applicants with a satisfying increase in the number of confident cyclists in the Effingham area. Some councils do actually offer free cycle training, sadly Guildford Borough and Surrey County are not among them.”

As well as wanting to hear from anyone who would like some cycle training, Terry would also like to speak to anyone who feels that they would like to be trained to be a volunteer instructor to others.

He would also be interested in offering training in simple bicycle maintenance and, along with the cycle training, ideally wants to keep all costs down to zero if possible.

He adds: “The structure of the course itself would be tailored to the needs of the individual trainees, but would always aim towards the goal of being able to cycle into Guildford and back to Westborough.

Guildford Dragon NEWS contributor David Rose is also the co-ordinator of the Joining In! project (managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey) that supports community involvement in the Westborough ward of Guildford. He says: “I am also a regular cyclist and I identify exactly with what Terry is saying about how more people could be encouraged take up cycling and his plans to offer good and accredited training.

“Joining In! has been set up to help and encourage people of all ages to take part and volunteer in more activities in their community and for groups, organisations and individuals to help and support one another.

“I have already spoken to The Guildford Bike Project and have put Terry in touch with them. The project’s recently revamped shop and community hub in Southway may well be the perfect venue for Terry to be based for his cycle training and bike maintenance courses, and where other volunteers could be based, once trained.

“It’s an exciting project that I hope will be well supported. I have also linked up Terry with Becky Willson at Surrey County Council. Some will know her locally as its engagement officer for its Travel SMART initiative, but she is also now the county council’s ‘cycling supremo’.

If you live in the Westborough area would like some cycle training, or would like to be a volunteer, or just would like some more information, email Terry Duckmanton at

Click here for his new website.

You can also contact David Rose at who will pass details on to Terry.


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Responses to Cyclist Wants To Encourage Others By Offering Free Training

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    January 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    It is sad that this training should be left to such public-minder people for such work is indeed ove due and should really receive government support.

    Often when driving on these dark morning it is difficult to compensate for the eccentric behaviour of some cyclists whom seem to have a death wish.

    While driving I have often witnessed cyclists without any lights on their bikes and wearing dark clothing, which makes them impossible to be picked out against the headlights of on-coming vehicles.

    Well done Terry!

    • Terry Duckmanton Reply

      January 11, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you Bernard, I hope the government are listening. The benefits of regular cycling go far beyond increased fitness and cheap transport for the cyclist.

      The Health Service will benefit from the reduced demand for services from people who will suffer less from heart disease, obesity etc. because of their increased activity levels.

      The road network will be less congested, each new cyclist means one less car.

      Employers whose workforce commutes by bicycle will have a fitter, happier and more punctual workforce.

      The cost of training cyclists would be tiny when compared with the savings due to the benefits.

  2. Fiona White Reply

    January 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I think this is a brilliant idea. I am sure that a lot of people would like to cycle but don’t have the confidence to do it. Getting the right training can go a long way to put that right. Also, cyclists need to learn how to ride safely for other road users as well as themselves and training will help with that.

    I hope that Terry will get all the support he needs to get the scheme off the ground and that volunteers will come forward to help.

  3. John Robinson Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Well done to Terry for this initiative – it’s a great idea.

    What would be helpful though would be if Anne Milton and SCC actually took the benefits of cycling on board.

    I’ve complained to both about the lack of clearly marked cycle lanes through Guildford (or just any cycle lane would be good!).

    I used to cycle every day, but just gave up on it in the end. I’m a very experienced two-wheeler, with 30-plus years cycling and motorcycling, but Guildford is pretty hairy in the rush hour.

    One of my main issues are all the cycle lanes in places like Aldershot Road, Worplesdon Road, etc, that are marked by a broken white line. Anne Milton and SCC have confirmed to me that these are ‘advisory’ cycle lanes, when I raised the issue about how many are used as car park spaces.

    This means they are not enforceable. So yes, anyone can park in them – meaning that cyclists have to continually have a ‘lifesaver’ look over their right shoulder and move right out into sometimes faster moving traffic to pass a parked car, white van, etc.

    How does that enhance cycle safety in any way?

    We all know why Local authorities do this – it’s so they can say “we have X number of miles of cycle lanes in XXXX” – thus they fulfil their ‘commitment’ to cycling and can tick that box as a ‘target met’.

    It’s just lazy traffic planning and seems typical of many authorities in the UK. As an example, have a go at cycling out of Guildford toward Ladymead, where you pass the cricket ground. That whole section of road has parking on that side, very heavy traffic and no cycle safety measures whatsoever.

    There just seems to be no political will to promote cycling, combined with employers (like mine) who are too lazy to provide secure cycle parking or changing facilities, even though they have tons of space to do so.

    Believe me, I’m in the minority at work and none of my colleagues or managers are interested.

    • Terry Duckmanton Reply

      January 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      I believe Anne Milton and the SCC are fully aware of the benefits of cycling, I know for a fact that Anne is a regular cyclist herself.

      The problem as I see it is one of numbers, the number of people who commute by bicycle is extremely low when compared to the number who commute by car.

      Would-be cyclists are put off cycling by the perceived dangers of sharing the road with a lot of very fast cars. If the number of cyclists were to increase significantly then more people would take up cycle commuting, shopping etc.

      What I am hoping to achieve is to show a few people that it is possible to cycle on the roads in and around Guildford and hopefully persuade them to cycle into town regularly.

      If the trained cyclists then tell their friends how easy it can be then perhaps the numbers will begin to increase. By offering a free training course to those who are teetering on the edge I hope to be able to break down that initial reluctance to give cycling a go.

      I will not be able to change things overnight, indeed it will take a long time to effect a significant change, but I have to try. If the scheme is successful, perhaps other groups will start up and Guildford will become a cycling town.

  4. Caroline Saunders Reply

    January 13, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Doesn’t the Guildford Bike Project already offer bicycle maintenance training?

    [Ed: It asks on its website for people who are interested to get in contact. However, I think at the moment the training is mainly aimed at those who are on its courses through the Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership. I believe the hub at its shop in Southway, Westborough may be used for maintenance training. We will add further details once the bike project gives clarification.]

  5. John Robinson Reply

    January 17, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Thank you for your reply Terry – but if Anne Milton is such a ‘regular’ cyclist, why is the provision for cyclists so bad in Guildford? Where there are cycle lanes (i.e. They are pretty rare in the Guildford area) they are mostly ‘advisory’, and used for parking.

    You could make a joke from that “when is a cycle lane not a cycle lane?” – “when it’s Advisory”.

    These type of lanes are a complete waste of white paint (albeit SCC do not have to use so much paint, as the lane is broken white lines – so a ‘win, win’ scenario for the council.

    They can say they’ve met their quota to provide cycle lanes, and it hasn’t cost them much to do so – plus, the lanes are not enforceable by law, so car drivers are happy to have somewhere to park. Everyone’s happy – except the cyclist.

    With regard to Mrs Milton, I used to cycle every single day, rain or shine – that’s regular cycling – how often does Anne get out on two wheels?

    As per the other current story on Guildford Dragon, about the Waitrose crossing debate – nice of Anne to finally get involved, after all the hard work by local people in their safety campaign.

    What’s that you say? There’s an election approaching? Well I never!

    As for hoping that there will be masses of cyclists one day (or motorcyclists) – it’ll never happen. We are just not like the Europeans, who grow up on two wheels and can even go to school at age 15 on a small scooter.

    Our laws here are so restrictive, we have a lot of traffic congestion and most people, for whatever reason, prefer the security and safety of their car – even if it means some queuing.

    I’m the only person where I work, out of approx 150 people, who uses a motorcycle to commute. All my colleagues think I’m mad, even though my ride in to work and home again is actually a lot of fun, and takes a fraction of the time.

    I’m always hearing comments like “you wouldn’t get me on one of those” and “no thanks, far too dangerous – and you get soaked in the rain!”

    When I used to go to bike events or meets as a youngster, everyone was like me – ie young. If I go to those same events now, there is just a dwindling number of grey beards, most a bit thin on top – but very few youngsters, and this is mostly due to the UK’s very restrictive, multi-layer licensing laws.

  6. Terry Duckmanton Reply

    January 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I am pleased to be able to announce that the first session of training under this new scheme is scheduled to take place on Sunday 22 February.

    At the moment this country, along with many others, is obsessed with the motor car as the preferred form of transport. Until now the cyclists and pedestrians have been largely ignored in transport planning debates. Thankfully a recent amendment to the Infrastructure Bill has been passed which adds a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to the Bill. This ensures funding for cycling and walking in the future.

    Changes to the existing structure will take time, but they will happen. Meanwhile I shall continue to provide cyclists in Westborough, Stoughton and Park Barn with the training they need to cope with conditions as they are. Remember, each new cyclist on the road means one less car.

  7. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 31, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Surely the responsibility for cycle training under Bikeability lies with the road authority, Surrey County Council.

    Needless to say, unlike older schemes which were at least delivered in schools for free, they charge for each level of the scheme.

    As said, Terry is to be applauded for providing training for free; but the need reflects badly on SCC both for lack of provision and lack of publicity.

  8. David Holloway Reply

    October 9, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Surrey County Council provides excellent Bikeability training in schools and for private individuals. It’s all very well criticising them for not providing it for free but considerable costs are involved for the council. Not everything can be free and sometimes things are only valued if paid for.

    Support Bikeability rather than criticise.

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