Graham Carter says get on your bike - you won’t regret it. He let's us in on Swindon's big secret.

If you need to get more active (and you want to have fun into the bargain), then it’s time you learned about Swindon’s big secret.

Partly hidden from view from most motorists, and so large it extends over most of the town and beyond, our brilliant cycle network is one of the best in the country, and just waiting to be discovered.

This series of articles is aimed at helping you find cycle routes around Swindon, but the best way to start cashing in on this huge asset is get on your bike, put on your helmet and discover it for yourself.

But before you do that - and, indeed, if you haven’t quite made up your mind to give it a try yet - pick up the Swindon Cycle Map.

Produced by Swindon Borough Council and available from libraries or online (, this excellent resource underlines just how many cycle paths we have on our doorsteps, and how they link up with quieter roads that will give you safe passage, all over the place.

All in all, the map (which is free) is an absolute must for anybody cycling around town.

At first the map looks like a bowl of spaghetti, but study it and it will soon start to make sense, you’ll find cycle paths you didn’t even know existed, and before you know it you will be off to a Flyer.

Three, in fact.

The Flyers are official routes laid down by Swindon Borough Council, and are essentially the backbone of the network, and therefore good starting points for discovering your own routes, particularly as they are so well-connected with other cycle paths.

The Western Flyer comes in from West Swindon via Rodbourne, officially from the subway on Mead Way to the subway on Sheppard Street. A large section of this is the former canal bed, and if you keep your eyes peeled en route, you can spot damage to railings that was the result of a wartime bomb, and the remnants of gates that used to be one of many entrances into the Railway Works.

The Eastern Flyer brings you into town from the White Hart at Stratton, right up to Whalebridge, skirting the Magic Roundabout.

Finally, the Southern Flyer runs from Peglars Way at Wichelstowe to Canal Walk.

For some reason, there is no Northern Flyer to complete the set, possibly because there are several routes into town that do the job, such as the combination of cycle paths and a bus lane that can easily get you all the way from the Abbey Stadium into Gorse Hill.

The Flyers are like arteries that bring you in and out of the centre of town, and their special paving and signage make them easy to follow, but there are hundreds more veins spreading all over town, which we will start to look at, next time.

Later still we will also consider those routes threading through town that are long and important enough to be part of the National Cycle Network, including one beautiful but little-used route that should be promoted as a major local leisure attraction.

But for now your mission is simple: get hold of that map and start planning where you want the adventure to take you.

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I am a passionate believer in bike helmets, but you have to make up your own mind whether what’s inside your head is worth protecting. Bear in mind that not only does a helmet cost very little, but five seconds after putting it on you will forget you are even wearing it, so why wouldn’t you? These days, a helmet is like a badge of membership that is worn by ‘proper cyclists’ belonging to a gigantic worldwide movement that includes the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. Or you could go without one and belong to the other lot, like the yobs who ride on town centre pavements, terrorising pedestrians.