CYCLING SHOWPIECE DEMO TOWNS PROVE WORTHY OF MORE GOVERNMENT FUNDING
WITH all six showpiece cycling demonstration towns in England reporting excellent progress, Cycling England, the government-funding project charged with delivering programmes that encourage cycling, will next week ask he Department for Transport for more money.
The Treasury’s comprehensive Spending review due in October, will set funding for the next three years.
Coincidentally, Cycling England’s three year appointment is also up for review, and their request for more money, backed with a report of their achievements, is timely.
Last year the DfT doubled its investment in Cycling England to £15 million.
The six cycling demonstration towns chosen to promote cycling are, Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster with Morecambe. All of them report significant growth in the numbers of people cycling.
Phillip Darnton, chair of Cycling England, told Cycling Weekly: “We are aiming for a big increase in funding.
The Cycling Development Towns project is looking very, very good. And they are all tackling different ways of encouraging cycle use.”
• Aylesbury saw a 25 per cent increase in cycling use in the first three months of 2006, over 2005.
They have improved cycling conditions for 26,000 homes, with provision for cycling around the inner ring road. Developments include connecting existing infrastructure with the town centre and linking routes together. They plan to provide a £5m cycling/walking bridge over the railway – a striking design with glass sides - to connect to the town centre.
• Brighton have appointed the first Bike It Officer, Gary Ship, who is working with selected schools.
Cycle parking facilities have been installed at 10 selected Bike It schools. One of them, Longhill School, has 60 sheltered cycle spaces, 25 lockers and a £140,000 path linking the school to the National Cycle Network.
• Darlington. The biggest challenge facing Darlington, which at the outset of this project had low numbers cycling, has been to breach the hostile ring round which acted as a barrier to cycling.
Work was begun on two of the three planned radial routes, with the third due to start in the New Year.
The city’s Medal Motion campaign is aimed at encouraging the 8000 primary school age children to cycle to school, after research showed that cycling was preferred to walking.
In the business community, Exis Technology and new World Hotels received funding for staff cycle provision – showers, lockers, cycle parking.
• Derby's aim is to quadruple the numbers of youngsters cycling in the next three years.
Big project is the R66 Cycle Ringway Route, which will put everyone in the city within two miles of a strategic cycle route.
The city aims to radically increase in the number of “after school cycling clubs” from the present four to 27. Currently, there is only funding available for five.
They claim to be the first local authority in the country to have a specific community sports cycle coach.
Derby’s School Travel Plan aims to provide secure cycle storage at every school in the Plan.
• Exeter’s vision is for 20 per cent of all children to be cycling to school by 2009.
St Lukes School is off to a good start, with new access bridge for cyclists, new secure cycle parking. There are new cycling links between the university accommodation and lecture theatres to the benefit of 25,000 students and staff.
Other projects in Exeter include the £6m Exe Estuary Cycle Route – providing paths on both sides of the estuary, to Exmouth on the east side and Dawlish on the west.
Six schools and six businesses in Exeter were identified in the first round of funding, to receive improved onsite cycle storage.
Exeter has installed 16 kilometres of cycle routes in the city, and seen an 11 per cent increase in cycling use in the past 12 months.
• Lancaster and Morecambe councillors say the key to their stated aim to double cycle levels from the current 3.8 per cent is to get a byelaw changed to permit cyclists to use the wide promenade.
The canal towpath is to be improved – offering an alternative route into the town – and there are plans for a cycle route linking Lancaster University.
The Cycling England board comprises experts on transport policy, engineering, public health, the cycle industry, local government, cycle sport, cycling training and education.
They are: Phillip Darnton (chair) ex Raleigh CEO, president Bicycle Association; Lynn Sloman, transport consultant; Dr Alison Hill, health; Christian Wolmar, transport journalist; John Grimshaw MBE, founder of Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity; Peter King, CEO British Cycling; Kevin Mayne, Director CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation; Dave Merrett, York City Councillor – driving force behind York’s award winning cycling route infrastructure; and triathlete Chris Spencer, education.
For more details go to www.cyclingengland.co.uk.