Nigel Sherwen a British Cycling member and campaigner
Bath’s river-valley setting near the Mendip Hills and the Cotswolds can present challenges for cyclists, but there is a thriving cycling club scene here, with my own club, Bath CC (est 1880) and Velo Club Walcot (2006).
Both have recently seen an impressive growth in membership, and between them offer a variety of weekend rides, from fast training jaunts, club runs to shorter outings for less experienced riders, plus women-only rides.
British Cycling funds a 1.5km closed-road circuit next to a BMX circuit, with help and encouragement from Bath and North-East Somerset Council and Bath’s MP. The circuit was officially opened by Olympian Dani King, and we had a day with Sir Chris Hoy, which was very popular too. The track is used by the new Sulis Scorpions Youth Cycling Alliance, formed by the aforementioned Bath clubs and Somer Valley CC.
Last year saw the opening of Sustrans’s Two Tunnels shared path, an amazing attraction since day one. The second tunnel is a mile long and has lights and even music. The council is now providing a Toucan crossing to link to the riverside towpath and Sustrans’s very first route, the Bath to Bristol cycle path (National Cycle Network 4).
Getting around the city by bike is far less satisfactory, with narrow roads and much traffic. Speed limits of 20mph are being introduced, but without enforcement it remains to be seen how successful these zones will be. We have a bi-monthly Cycle Forum, a liaison meeting with a councillor, officials and cyclists, but three major projects with a huge impact on cycling that should have been brought to the forum were not!
Currently there is a controversial scheme for the London Road Gateway to the city, which has attracted over 1,100 signatures concerned about safety and the marginalisation of cycling. We are working hard to improve the scheme and have shown how a Dutch-style two-way cycle lane could be introduced. As in other UK cities, it is hard to get councils to treat cycling seriously.