Gravel-bike owners will be disappointed with smooth upgrade for cycle route beside a New Forest road

A cycle route through the heart of the New Forest has been upgraded with a smooth asphalt surface. The work was paid for with £325,000 from the New Forest National Park Authority’s £2m cycling fund from the Department for Transport. Earlier in the year there were fears that the “cycling” money would be spent on a scheme that widened the road for the convenience mainly of motorists. However, one of the leading campaigners for improved cycling in the New Forest has welcomed the resurfacing work.

The 3.5km route alongside the A35 links Southampton, Totton and Ashurst in the New Forest National Park.

“Replacing the former gravel surface on the path next to the busy A35 with the smooth tarmac surface means commuters, students and people cycling for pleasure are now able to use the popular route away from the danger of traffic,” says a statement from the New Forest National Park Authority.

New Forest National Park Authority member and New Forest District Councillor for Lyndhurst Pat Wyeth said she had been campaigning to improve the route for years.

“Only people with tough mountain-bike tyres were able to use the gravel surface previously so people commuting or using road bikes with thinner tyres had to either risk a puncture on the path or dodge the many lorries and cars in the road.

“The upgraded path is already well-used as different sections have been opened. We’re keen to get more people out of their cars and using bikes as it’s better for the New Forest environment, as well as [bringing] health benefits.”

Photo: New Forest National Park Authority member and New Forest District Councillor for Lyndhurst Pat Wyeth officially opens the Ashurst to Lyndhurst route with locals and (front left to right) NPA member David Harrison; Hampshire County Councillor and NPA member Keith Mans; HCC Highway Engineer Steve Eleftheriou; NPA member Sally Arnold; NPA Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre.

Cycle campaigner @forestcyclist told BikeHub he welcomed the upgrade.

“The previous gravel surface which was actively avoided by most cyclists. It appears that in places there’s been a bit of a ‘land grab’ to facilitate the new 2m wide tarmac path, something which I very much welcome.”

He added: “The legal arguments between Verderers and Highways have been resolved and, in effect, have laid the foundations for proposals of more new tarmac cycle paths alongside the A337 from Cadnam to Lymington, as it’s now clear that within the fenced roads of the New Forest that the highway authority are the sole regulatory body.”

Trainee footballer rides reconditioned bike to and from training and work

Trainee footballer Gerard Duarte Dos Santos has kicked-off his apprenticeship with a reconditioned bike and cycling accessories from West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Travel2Train scheme.

Dos Santos is a winger for Brighouse’s Expro Academy. He has played in friendly games against Huddersfield Town and Rotherham United. He travels to the town’s Dual Seal Stadium for training four times a week from his home near Huddersfield’s Greenhead Park. He also cycles home after late finishes at the Huddersfield restaurant in which he works at weekends.

After finding out about Travel2Train from one of WYCA’s roadside displays, Dos Santos applied to the scheme, which provided him with a reconditioned bike, helmet, lights, and lock.

Dos Santos who now cycles 80 miles per week to and from his workplaces.

“Cycling has been brilliant for my overall fitness on and off the pitch. It’s low cost, so means I can use my wage for other things.”

Travel2Train helps apprentices in West Yorkshire with travel to their apprenticeship. People who can travel by bus or train can apply for a free Student Plus Monthly MetroCard, valid on buses and trains in West Yorkshire, for their first month of travel.

Those unable to use public transport or who prefer to cycle can apply for a free reconditioned bike and equipment. Travel2Train works with cycle recyclers that give life to old bikes.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield said:

“Improving young people’s access to apprenticeships, training and good quality jobs is one of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s key ambitions.”

Polly Webber from Cycle:recycle, the community bike provider for the Calderdale District, said:

“We think this is a really great scheme. People seem to be grateful for their bikes and it is good to see how it has such a positive effect on people’s lives”

Cllr Peter McBride, Kirklees Cabinet Member for Investment and Regeneration said:

“Apprenticeships are vital as we aim to match people’s skills to the needs of the local economy. It is great that Gerard is now able to get to his place of work, but the real message here is that we will do all we can to make a difference to the lives of young people as they take their first steps on the career ladder.”

260,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases not emitted thanks to London’s 222 million annual cycle trips

Cycle journeys in London save the equivalent annual carbon emissions of 82,000 cars, says Sustrans.

New evidence from Sustrans London shows that over 260,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases were saved from cycling journeys made in London in 2014.

Figures shared by the charity show the estimated number of cycling trips in London increased to over 222 million in 2014.

Commenting on the findings, Matt Winfield, Acting Sustrans London Director, said:

“When it comes to tackling transport emissions here in London, it’s clear that cycling is one of the best investments the new Mayor can make.

“Cycling numbers are growing rapidly but still account for only a fraction of all journeys taken in London, yet the greenhouse gas savings for these journeys are estimated at over two hundred and sixty thousand tonnes. The benefits for our environment of enabling more people to get on their bikes for everyday journeys are enormous.”

SEO agency helps car insurer create cycling microsite that features “presumed liability”

A search engine optimisation firm has helped a car insurance specialist to create an information “hub” on cycling. Alongside a dodgy poll about mandatory cycling proficiency tests for all cyclists there’s information on presumed liabiltity and winterising a bike for commuting in the cold and wet. The hub was created for Kwik Fit Insurance Services by Steak of Covent Garden.

Kwik Fit Insurance Services is one of the many insurance brands of Ageas. The company is a promotor of road safety and urges the UK to adopt a “Towards Zero” strategy for reducing road deaths. It is third largest motor insurer in the UK based on number of vehicles insured.

It’s perhaps significant that such a major player in the motor insurance market is discussing presumed liability, the compensation concept common to almost all other European countries except the UK, Malta and Cyprus.

However, a survey commissioned by Steak for Kwik Fit Insurance Services, and conducted by YouGuv, has some questionable statistics and has been accompanied with a poorly-worded press release, headlined “38 million UK adults support mandatory cycling proficiency tests.”

The press release stated: “Our new research piece comes after extended discussion in the media about the rising support for “presumed liability” in the UK.”

Kwik Fit Insurance Services quotes Brenda Mitchell, a solicitor specialising in incidents involving cyclists at Cycle Law Scotland who said:

“[Presumed liability] is not intended to unfairly blame the party with the greater potential to do harm. Therefore, [it] offers a fairer and more responsible approach to compensating vulnerable road users while, at the same time, ensuring that reckless cyclists and pedestrians, who are entirely “the author of their own misfortunes” are not compensated. At present, injured vulnerable road users very often face a David v Goliath battle against an insurance company. This must change.”

Bike bridges and more washed away in Cumbrian floods

At least two bicycle bridges have been lost to floods in Cumbria and several paths and roads within the National Cycle Network are submerged, reports Sustrans.

NCN route 71, Hadrian’s Cycle Way and the Sea to Sea are temporarily closed due to flooding. Many on-road sections of the Network are also affected.

Nikki Wingfield, Cumbria Area manager for Sustrans, and maintenance supervisor Andy Small are currently trying to assess the extent of damage to the network in Cumbria. They are unable to access all sections due to the floods, but have reports of the following damage:

C2C: temporarily closed

Workington to Keswick section closed

Braithwaite: the C2C is impassable due to a collapsed bridge
Keswick and Threlkeld: 1 bridge lost, unconfirmed reports of another bridge lost
Route 71: temporarily closed

Braithwaite: Route 71 is impassable due to collapsed bridge
Route 6: check Council updates before use

Kendal: flooding in town centre and surrounding area; bridges awaiting inspection by Cumbria County Council. Do not use
Grasmere – Keswick: A591 has collapsed
Route 7: advise no travel on this route until cleared for use

Flooding at Carlisle and at Westlington Castle.

Route 72 (Hadrian’s Cycleway): Advise no travel on these routes until cleared for use

Flooding at Carlisle and by the Eden River
Route 700: several sections closed. Check before travel

Flooding at Levens, bridge across Leven at Greenodd closed until cleared by Cumbria County Council
Floods in Lancaster
Route 68

Appleby: flooding and main road bridge awaiting inspection by Cumbria County Council