Australia New Zealand, Impact

I have ridden a bike all my life. It’s always been something that I enjoy, coupled with my spirit for adventure and the value I place on health and renewable/sustainable living. Recently, I have been more serious about cycling and, at the start of the year, I set myself a goal to take on a challenge to push myself and to try to give back something in the process. The goal was to take part in the fourth annual running of the Amy’s Gran Fondo cycling event, which is a 123-kilometer (76-mile), closed road bike race down the picturesque Great Ocean Road and up through the Otway National Park in the Australian state of Victoria.

It wasn’t all fun; there were some very serious hills in the way as well! Ten months ago, I was petrified at the idea of having only just completed another event of 50 kilometers (31 miles), my longest ride before the Amy’s Gran Fondo event. But I was not put off, and with training, determination and encouragement from friends and other cycling colleagues, I broke my own records and set higher goals. Soon enough, the day came and I was lined up on the starting line.


This has also made me consider the group behind the event, Amy Gillet Foundation, what it stands for and what AECOM can contribute to the principles of this organisation as a global company with experience in the development of strategies, planning, design and implementation of cycling projects. The Amy Gillett Foundation was established when Amy Gillet, a young and promising Australian cyclist, was training with her team in Germany and cycling on a popular road. Without warning, the group was struck from behind by a vehicle, killing Amy and critically injuring two other riders. This incident was the catalyst for the creation of the foundation and establishment of its core values.

The main aim of the foundation is to reduce the incidence of death and injury to bike riders, which is a very basic principle that I have found that AECOM contributes to greatly on a number of levels. Our technical skills and sphere of influence within our planning, urban design and traffic and transport groups allow us to work with government and transport agencies and groups to develop and support better policy and infrastructure. In our transport advisory group, we help build strategies and business cases to promote implementation of cycle projects, while in our main transport group, we are able to develop the designs and plans to implement these policies and help create new road networks, bridges and other infrastructure.  From our “No excuse” zone campaign work in Sydney, through to the design and supervision of works on London’s Cycle Superhighways, AECOM has supported the growth of cycling as a key alternative to car-based travel.

On top of this, the health and wellbeing of teams as well as environmental gains from cycling are also promoted, with team members encouraged to participate in events like the annual “Ride to Work” day and other events. Many of our offices provide dedicated cycle parking, lockers and showers, while in AECOM’s Brisbane office, we even have a cycle centre.

Overall, the day was a great success. Five thousand people took part in the event and over AU$78,000 (US$67,375) was raised with the AECOM group raising a total of AU$580 (US$500).

Results for the AECOM team on the day were:

  1. Henry Yuen                  3:35:22.4              KOM:     32:10.2
  2. Blake Bambridge          3:44:38.8              KOM:      35:21.6
  3. Ewan Hillsdon              4:09:24.1              KOM:      38:35.9
  4. Martin Howland            4:46:25.3              KOM:      42:25.3
  5. Allyn Jennings              5:47:24.9              KOM:      53:21.2


Ewan_Hillsdon_BW_89x100Ewan Hillsdon ( is a senior technical officer at AECOM with over 12 years of experience in building structure modelling and industry documentation from Australia and the U.K. He is an avid cyclist and lycra clad weekend warrior. (Ok, maybe not the last bit).
LinkedIn: Ewan Hillsdon

Originally published Nov 24, 2014

Author: Ewan Hillsdon