PEDAL Power was launched as an inspiring campaign to encourage Guardian readers out on their bikes.
Since November 2012 we have included articles about different types of cycling, advice to get started, clubs, groups, events and inspiring tales of mid Cheshire’s own cyclists – and we seem to have struck a chord with the community as there has never been a shortage of stories.
We even helped to organise an event, the Pedal Power Festival, which saw 200 cyclists bike around Northwich, despite it falling on a miserable May day of pouring rain.
Now we are adding a new string to our bow as an integral part of a group hoping to transform Northwich’s cycling infrastructure – and we need your help.
A NEW group has formed with the sole purpose of making Northwich a cycle friendly town.
As the gyratory work reaches its final stages and cycling booms even more in the wake of Tour de France fever, it has never been more important to make this healthy form of transport safer and more accessible in and around Northwich and mid Cheshire.
The group is a spin-off from the Northwich Neighbourhood Plan and includes Derek Bowden, a Northwich town councillor, Mike Cooksley, head of the neighbourhood plan’s transport and infrastructure task group, Stephen Hall, head of the health and welfare task group, Peter Forster, Sustrans regional director, and Gina Bebbington, from the Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign.
Clr Bowden said: “We want to make Northwich a cycle safe and cycle friendly town for shoppers, commuters, children, leisure and work.”
Mike said: “We all recognise there’s a dearth of cycle provision in the town.
“Now we’ve got the opportunity both nationally and locally within the planning policy framework to change things.
“There’s a lot of lip service paid to different forms of transport, in particular cycling, but it seems that there’s very little done with regard to action with the creation of new routes and cycle storage.
“As we are now putting together a neighbourhood plan it’s an ideal time for us to get together and see if we can do something in real terms regarding the creation of a better cycle framework for the town.”
Steve, a keen cyclist who commutes by bike from Appleton to Gadbrook Park, was keen to emphasise that different types of cycling need to be taken into account while planning, from leisure cyclists happy to travel at little more than walking pace to experienced cyclists that travel much faster and even an increase in electric bikes.
“We need to adapt to the needs of cyclists now,” he said.
“There are people doing it recreationally, people trying to get from A to B relatively quickly and people on road bikes that are clipped in.”
He added: “In the past 12 months I’ve seen a huge difference in the number of people cycling and in 12 months time that will be even more the case.”
This summer the group aims to review existing and potential cycle routes and provision around the town centre and wider Northwich area and draw up a cycling wish list of long and short term goals.
It will also investigate potential sources of funding and work with Cheshire West and Chester Council to see what can be achieved.
How you can help:
WE want to hear from anyone who cycles in and around Northwich on a regular basis, or would like to.
We want to know what would make your route easier as a cyclist, what puts you off at the moment and what works well that could be used elsewhere.
There may be some simple solutions, or solutions that may take years to achieve, but we want to build up a comprehensive wish list that would make Northwich cycle friendly.
To give you an example – I am really impressed with the well signed Sustrans route that uses paths alongside the River Dane and River Weaver, Riversdale Bridge and Hunts Lock.
It links Castle and Hartford with Kingsmead, Northwich town centre and Rudheath and Gadbrook Park.
However, as far as I am concerned it has a fatal flaw in the form of a double railway bridge linking King George Avenue with Royle Street.
It’s steep flights of steps make it impossible for me to use this route on my heavy and unwieldy basket bike.
Installing a ‘gutter’ like that used on a canal bridge in Marbury Park could be a simple solution to this obstacle and is something I would add to the wish list.
Send in your suggestions and pictures of problems to firstname.lastname@example.org with full details of the location.