Fringe Box



Pushing Pedals: Whether Cycling to Rail or a Local Trail, Guildford Leads the Way

Published on: 2 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 4 Dec, 2021

This is the monthly column on local cycling by the Guildford Bicycle User Group (G-BUG). Its vision is to make cycling in Guildford safer, more convenient and fun. Members share a passion for making the borough more accessible through increased cycling.

By Bridie Sullivan

Last week the government announced a £96 billion investment in the country’s Integrated Rail Plan, touted as “the largest ever single government investment in the rail network”.


Photo by BDS – unsplash.

Earlier this year, the Williams-Shapps white paper set out the government’s vision for the rail industry, including a promise to reverse the trend of declining on-board cycle space to meet the increasing demand for more cycle-rail journeys, where a bicycle is parked at the train station.

Since the pandemic began, commuting by public transport has dramatically declined. However, with an increase in cycle-rail journeys continuing to rise for leisure, pre and post the pandemic, this undeniable surge in demand has helped to intensify the industry’s call for more infrastructure, facilities and funding to enable us all to do both.

Photo by Charles Forerunner – unsplash.

To date, the government’s long term cycle-rail programme is believed to have tripled the number of cycle parking spaces to over 80,000 across more than 500 stations nationwide in the last 5-10 years.

All in a bid to tackle one of the biggest barriers to switching from car use to a more sustainable option, that first or last mile of a journey.

The new Great British Railways promises to integrate the country’s railways by modernising fares and creating more reliable services. So cycle-rail has become a much more feasible option with flexible season tickets and clearer methods for compensation now available. It’s never been a better time to explore your options.

The first in the country, the Brompton Bike Hire at Guildford Station.

For commuting, Guildford is a leader in the cycle-rail provision of facilities. It’s home to the first train station in the country to provide a self-service Brompton bicycle dock, well over a decade ago. Entirely powered by solar panels and smart card technology. Season ticket holders face no restrictions on board, apart from the expectation to stow the bicycle as luggage.

National Rail has also supported cycle-rail use with the introduction of PlusBike, the seat booking process where you can check whether or not the service accommodates non-folding bicycles or has any restrictions attached to a folding bicycle, such as wheel size.

Photo by Jacob Amson – unsplash.

For a staycation, maybe consider Britain’s best rail-to-trail guide. It lists former railway lines that have been converted to paths and bridleways. They vary in length and difficulty and are dotted across the country and enjoyed by cyclists, walkers and horse riders alike.

Guildford is next to one of the country’s top ten. The Downs Link between Surrey and West Sussex is the longest, almost-unbroken stretch of bridleway. At just over 36 miles long, it runs between St Martha’s Hill, near Guildford, to the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea. The route largely follows the course of the Cranleigh and Steyning Lines and only a small part of the route includes a main road.

So whether for work or play, try the cycle-rail way. The benefits of this long term investment are already available and well underway.

Safe Cycling


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