Council unveils strategy to double number of cyclists

cycling strategy aspirational map

Cheshire East Council has unveiled their strategy to double the number of people cycling in the borough.

The authority's ambition is a 'step change' in the take up of cycling by residents of all ages across Cheshire East, with a vision 'to enable more people to cycle safely, more often and with confidence for everyday and leisure journeys'.

The plan will deliver a cycle-friendly network of key routes connecting people and places which will link with local routes to connect residents and visitors to jobs, schools and leisure opportunities.

The council will work with partners and local cycling groups to deliver the cycling strategy over the next 10 years. Cheshire East aims to double the number of local people cycling at least once a week by 2025*.

Speaking after the cycling strategy was formally backed by cabinet on Wednesday, 15th March, Councillor David Brown, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: "This is fantastic news. In adopting this strategy there is a real opportunity to capitalise on increased public awareness and interest in cycling following Cheshire East's hugely successful hosting of stage three of the Tour of Britain last September.

"The council's cycling strategy demonstrates how we intend to deliver a high-quality cycle network so that people of all abilities will be able to travel safely around the borough by bike – and help put cycling on the map in Cheshire East.

"Cycling has so many well-recognised benefits – not just for individuals' health, wellbeing and pockets, but also our wider communities, environment and businesses.

"It will also help the council achieve its wider ambitions, set out in our corporate plan, by making Cheshire East a green and sustainable place, enabling people to live well and for longer and helping ensure Cheshire East has a strong and resilient economy.

"I would like to thank our local cycling groups and residents who responded to our online survey for their enthusiasm and assistance in the development of this document – whose aims have won the support of a thumping 89 per cent of all respondents.

"The message is clear: by cycling regularly you'll be healthier, happier and wealthier – and it's great for businesses, the visitor economy and the environment too."

To deliver the cycling strategy, funding will be needed from a wide range of sources. Current funding streams accessed to improve the cycle network across the borough in 2017/18 onwards include:

● Share of £5m allocated to Cheshire and Warrington LEP by the Local Growth Fund to improve cycle routes which link key housing and employment and development sites;

● £500,000 Local Growth Fund match funding by Cheshire East Council;

● £612,445 secured from the Department of Transport to fund Bikeability cycle training for children;

● Commitment from Network Rail to construct cycle facilities alongside the proposed rail replacement bridge on the A530 at Leighton, Crewe;

● Developer funding as part of planning consent agreements.

The cabinet decision means the cycling strategy document will become part of the council's transport strategy framework.

Map of key cycle routes network

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Cheshire East Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jackie Pass
Saturday 18th March 2017 at 11:59 am
Of course cycling has health benefits. Dean Row Road has a cycle path that runs along it. I have yet to see any cyclists use this because they seem to prefer to travel en mass blocking the road instead. It seems to me that the Council doesn't only need to promote cycling, and put in more routes, - it needs to educate that the cycle path is there for a reason and that there should be penalties for not using it.
Nick Jones
Saturday 18th March 2017 at 12:37 pm
CEC better start improving the pothole situation and road surfaces then to follow this through ! ...I wont list them .. it would take too long.
Fiona Doorbar
Saturday 18th March 2017 at 3:34 pm
Nick beat me to it with his comments but I will comment anyway! The state of our local roads makes it dangerous to drive never mind cycle. There are frequent tyre marks where vehicles have had to suddenly brake and I have witnessed that the usual reason for this is that an oncoming car has swerved to miss a huge ,and no doubt damaging ,pothole.
Simon Worthington
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 7:42 am
It is far to dangerous to cycle around with all the people driving their kids to school. Maybe that would be a good place to start and put some secure bicycle storage at schools so the bikes don't get nicked.
Julie Lowe
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 8:05 am
What a wonderful Utopian society David Brown must live in because he certainly doesn't live in ours! I would like to challenge him to get on his bike and try and negotiate the shockingly disgraceful roads around Handforth and Wilmslow before deciding to waste this huge tranch of money which could be far better spent elsewhere. I'd be interested to know how many people completed the survey as percentages don't really mean very much.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 9:50 am
As a cyclist I filled in the survey and heard no more about it.
David Brown is the Cabinet Member with responsibility for potholes and was only recently telling us what a splendid job they were doing.
Raymond Acton
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 11:53 am
Yes, David! It is fantastic.....in fact, pure fantasy. I liked the bit about 'making C.East a green and sustainable place'......at the same time as allowing houses on our Green Belt! I suppose anyone can write such platitudinous statements. How about some clear detail?
Jackie Pass
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 2:43 pm
Raymond - not sure that Cheshire East do detail. The last time they produced "cycling route maps" - they included a number of private roads. They should also list when the cycleways can only be accessed by steep steps, as is the case in the one running above the A34.

They also need to recognise that there are two sorts of cyclists. The ones who want to get onto their bikes and cycle slowly to get their shopping, and the others - the increasingly large number, who wear their expensive "kit" and who cycle head down and as fast as they can in a massive group. One section of Adlington Road, from the bridge up to the junction with the Care Home, cycle clubs use as a "timed test" because of its gradient.
Vince Chadwick
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 7:24 pm
Penalties for not using cycle paths? Have you thought that through?

Cyclists are as legally entitled to use the roads as are cars. Bikes have a right to be there. Many UK motorists seem unaware of this and barely tolerate cyclists on 'their' roads.

However, no cyclist wishes to expose their unprotected flesh and bone to (generally) not very skilled or considerate car drivers in charge of a couple of tons of speeding metal any more than they need to. So If cyclists are not using cycle paths there's generally a good reason. Broken glass, litter, road debris, or just a plain poor surface are the usual reasons. Take a look in the gutter of a road where cars don't run and note the detritus that lodges there. Cycle paths are often in a similar state.

And cycle paths often suddenly terminate, especially at road junctions or roundabouts, just when they are most of value to the cyclist, who is expected to dismount and become a pedestrian - but with a bike! If I'd wanted to be out for a walk I would have left my bike at home! Why would a cyclist use a system that every few hundred metres ceases to exist just when it's needed? No wonder they stick to the roads.

They do cycle paths properly in some countries, such as Holland and Denmark. In UK they are a often a 'tick the box' exercise by a local authority who have no intention of making them viable for the cyclist. But hey, white paint is cheap!

Fine cyclists for ignoring them? I don't think so!
Jackie Pass
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 8:19 pm
Vince - agree they do cycle paths well in some countries. Also some cycle paths are in a state of disrepair. However, why bother having them if your argument is that cyclists don't have to use them?
Vince Chadwick
Sunday 19th March 2017 at 8:45 pm
Box ticking, Jackie. Box ticking by the local authority. They do not take cycle lanes seriously as Denmark and Holland do. Absolutely no commitment to providing a viable facility.
Rob Sawyer
Monday 20th March 2017 at 3:13 am
The target set is certainly seems very optimistic but the aspiration of getting more people enjoying this relatively low cost form of exercise is sound. The devil will be in the detail (or lack of) with this new cycling strategy. Much rests upon the commitment to see it through properly. CycleWilmsliow's battles to get street-lighting re-instated on the A538 (and adjacent cycle/pedestrian path) near Waters/Honey Bee hint that things might not be always straightforward.

It is too simplistic to put cycle users into just two camps. As with motorists they take many forms: from the lycra-clad club cyclists, to commuters, leisure riders, school children, shoppers etc...As with other road users (pedestrians, vehicle drivers) cycle users will display differences in confidence, road-craft etc. Some will prefer to use off-road facilities (cycle paths) whilst others will prefer to use the more direct route, on-highway. In much the same way, some motorists will prefer using an A road to a motorway. Both are fine - they are just personal preferences.

Vince makes a number of good points. People will use the easier/safest/most direct facilities they encounter. If a cycle path involves you having to dismount at each junction you come across it will not be tempting to use it.

The key is that our existing roads are safe with decent surface quality (and lighting where needed). Any new dedicated cycling facilities are well-designed (best-practice) and executed, offering an attractive alternative to existing options.
Fiona Doorbar
Monday 20th March 2017 at 7:04 am
Interesting that the profusion of pot holes affected one charity half marathon runner at the Wilmslow half yesterday!
Nick Jones
Monday 20th March 2017 at 9:26 am
I look forward to seeing a few CEC Cllrs "Getting on their Bike "
Neil Matthews
Monday 20th March 2017 at 11:10 am
At least they've 'consulted' with cyclists and cycling groups. When I asked about their plans for better motorcycle access and parking (and roads, we are effected by the roads just like any other two wheeler) they said 'they were looking into it'. They would not be consulting bikers nor their action groups, in fact no one 'looking in to it' even rides a motorcycle. So cyclists are not alone under CE and their box ticking. I seriously believe that as a Council they are not fit for purpose!
Carol Chadwick
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 6:03 pm
What about the most expensive cycle track in the country, the A538 Altrincham Road. The cyclists still prefer to use the road. It may be that they are entitled to but it is highly antisocial when the cars cannot overtake because they can't be bothered to go on the cycle path.
John Fallows
Thursday 23rd March 2017 at 10:19 am
Unfortunately like many things in this country & county short-termism and lack of foresight has already precluded the only sensible solution - a dedicated cycle network. Anyone who has travelled and worked in Scandinavia or Holland will have seen the cycle ways there - completely separated from the road network. I fear that the only option here will be a 'bolt-on' solution like the many tiny so-called cycle tracks already 'installed' on a number of our roads. Unless the two types of traffic can be physically segregated no one is going to feel properly secure on them. And when a separate track has been built it has been badly implemented - I have yet to see a cyclist on the track alongside the bypass for obvious reasons.
Andrew Backhouse
Thursday 23rd March 2017 at 8:37 pm
It is good to see the range of discussion on this issue. I sympathise with those talking about potholes - I have had to swerve further into the road on many occasions to avoid them on my bike so I think we can agree on that concern.
I do wish all councillors and planners setting up bike routes would try cycling around more first. When the National Trust offered enough land to build a proper cycle path up Worm's Hill on the edge of the Styal Estate, the council put steps instead, claiming that it was too steep for a ramp - in complete contrast to what our own surveyors had proved would fit.
And then all those bike lanes that stop in silly places, or have give ways to drives/small roads. Who would want to use those?