Press Release - Top Secret
Did anyone hear the fanfare when Transport Minister Steven Norris announced "Cycle Challenge"? Your secretary and chairman certainly didn't. Maybe the DoT were trying to keep things quiet because they were only allocating 18p for each of the 11 million cyclists claimed to exist in Britain.
Anyway, the secretary has obtained a copy of a press release dated 20th July, in which the DoT offers £2 million, to be allocated by a competitive bidding process, for "original and practical ideas to make villages, towns and cities more cycle friendly". Projects should involve partnerships between a number of organisations, public and private, within a community. The money from the DoT should be used as a "spring board for seeking further funding from other sources".
We were alerted to the existence of "Cycle Challenge" by Patrick Davis, a County Council officer involved in promoting cycling. He reckons that Loughborough would be an ideal place to bid for some of this money, since we are just starting to build a cycle-path network here, and suggests that our Campaign should be the lead organisation in a partnership. So now we need some ideas: what innovative project to encourage cycling do you think might attract some DoT money to Loughborough? Ideas to any committee member, please, and we hope to have a grand At Southfields and About Town with the Secretary
Your secretary has been called to the Borough Council offices for consultations three times in the last few weeks.
1. Cycle path from Ashby Crescent to Bastard Gates. This vital link will allow cyclists to avoid a particularly nasty section of Ashby Road, where lorries go thundering past at dual-carriageway speeds despite the fact that the road has narrowed down to single carriageway several hunderd yards back. Anthony managed to persuade the Council officers that it is better to take the cycle path along Cotswold close rather than across its junction with Ashby Road. However, there still appear to be problems with bridging the brook, due to conditions imposed by the NRA. Max Hunt has ideas for a rather grand bridge, high enough to satisfy the NRA and also making a spectacular visual statement of the importance attached to cycling by Charnwood - lets hope that this goes through.
2. Woodbrook Path and Burleigh Way. This was a site visit rather than a meeting in the Southfields offices. Together with Dave Marshall from the Council's Public Services department, Anthony cycled along these two paths, discussing along the way any potential problems in converting them to dual cycle/pedestrian use. On the Woodbrook path the main problem is the dual-carriageway section of Forest Road, where there is no alternative to using the road. Crossings over Forest Road will be indicated by white lining (but no new traffic signals), and Epinal Way will be crossed by the existing signals south of the roundabout. On the Burleigh Way (the former railway track extending west from Epinal Way) the section beside the fire station will have to remain rather narrower than is ideal, but the rest of the path will make an excellent cycle route once it is properly surfaced.
3. Pedestrianisation. Anyone who reads the local press will be aware that town-centre pedestrianisation has been put at the top of the agenda since the local elections in May. Your secretary visited Southfields again as part of the initial consultation process. Removing motor vehicles will obviously improve the environment of the town centre, but we don't want quiet, non-polluting bicycles to be removed at the same time. The Council officers are currently not very keen on allowing cyclists to mix with pedestrians: they are willing to allow us into the pedestrian area only before 10am and after 4pm, so that cyclists will at least be able to pass through the town centre going to and from work. However, we are still hopeful that we can persuade them that cyclists do not pose a threat to pedestrians at any time (apart from a few tearaways who will cause trouble regardless of any regulations). Pedestrianisation also has the potential advantage of allowing cyclists two-way access along what are currently one-way streets.