Should cars be allowed on the Norfolk Churches’ Trust sponsored bike ride and walk?

Susie Fowler-Watt, centre, is joined by Beccles cyclists including Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk Count

Susie Fowler-Watt, centre, is joined by Beccles cyclists including Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, left, to launch the Suffolk Historic Churches' bike ride. - Credit: Archant

The organiser of an annual sponsored bike ride and walk around Norfolk churches has defended the decision to allow cars to take part in the event.

Sponsored car drivers are being allowed for the first time to take part in the Norfolk Churches' Trust ride and walk next month.

The decision has been criticised by some former participants, who said the trust should think again.

But Charles Inglis, the bike ride co-ordinator, said the decision would allow less able-bodied people, who could no longer cycle or walk the route, to take part.

He said that other counties across the country were also letting people drive in the national event, which raises money towards the upkeep of historic churches.


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He said: 'We pondered over the decision long and hard. We are aware this ride has been going for 30 years and people doing it for that time, may not now be able to jump on a bicycle or walk to a lot of churches. We don't want to exclude them from the event. We want as many people to do the ride as possible.

'At some churches in the past only a few people turned up the whole day. We hope that with people driving, the volume of people going round the churches will increase. But there won't be enough drivers taking part to clog up the country lanes, and cyclists will only probably see one extra car in the day.'

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He added: 'We ran the idea by our area organisers and some were not mad on the idea, but most have come round. We are still emphasising that we would prefer people to cycle or walk, but now this is another option. For the event to be a real success, we need a critical mass of people doing it.'

He said it would be too much of a mouthful to change the name of the event to incorporate the change.

However, Peter King, 51, from Beccles Road, Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, who has taken part in the event for nearly 30 years, said he would boycott it this year, because drivers were allowed, and he said people from other churches felt the same.

He added: 'You would normally expect people to be sponsored by others to cycle from one church to another until so many have been completed by that cyclist, but this year car drivers have been allowed to participate. Drivers in cars participating in a sponsored bike ride is just not normal. Drivers in cars are not using their legs and pedalling from one church to another; they are sitting in a front seat of a car with their hands on a steering wheel and driving their car. They are two completely different things.

'How many other organised sponsored bike rides have car drivers being sponsored in the same event? The answer is more likely to be none at all. This one should be the same. The trust should think again.'

About 700 people took part in last year's event in Norfolk. The ride is on Saturday, September 13, between 9am & 5pm.

• What do you think of the decision to allow motorists to take part in the event? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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