Already home to one of just five accredited cycle training centres in the UK, Darlington is fortunate to be both a Cycling Demonstration Town and a Sustainable Travel Demonstration Town - the only town in the UK to have received both awards. Cycling is of huge importance to the city and the local authority is keen to sustain momentum and create a step change in cycle participation in the area.
The local authority's aim is to have a lively pedestrian heart to its town centre. So out go the cars and buses and in come the cyclists and pedestrians. In the future, traffic will only be allowed in Darlington's town centre at night, creating a better environment for both visitors and residents.
Darlington currently works with three Bike It schools and aims to provide 10 per cent of all school children with space to park their bikes. Darlington schools' cycle lockers will be housed in safe, ultra-modern glass cubes. The urban design officer in charge of the project will provide a minimum standard ensuring all cycle storage areas are covered and lit. In the town itself, all cycle lockers will be made safer by having CCTV cameras.
Over the next few years, Darlington will be improving simple, often overlooked areas of cycle paths by providing lighting and benches along the routes. The local authority will also name the routes, ensuring they are easier to navigate without the need of maps. The heart of Darlington will become accessible to all residents on bicycle, allowing them to cross the inner ring road to their homes.
Since the autumn our Darlington team has been keenly focused on delivering our ambitious infrastructure programme.
Work has already begun on two of our three planned radial routes with the third set to start early in the New Year. We have also been busy laying down the foundations for other major schemes for completion in 2008. The design work has started and our aim is to begin a consultation programme on the proposed schemes before March in order to meet our scheduled works commencement date.
In October the second Medal Motion campaign of the year was held at every primary school in Darlington. Medal Motion has replaced our Walk to School Week as we felt that we wanted our initiative to reflect the fact that more youngsters were now cycling to school. All of our 8,000 primary school aged pupils received a Medal Motion pack, including a passport for children to record how they travelled to school each day. Once the log was completed they were asked to freepost the passport back to us. Ten lucky winners received a handful of vouchers to spend at a local toyshop.
We have already started thinking about our 2007 calendar of events which will include guided cycle rides for families, off road riders and tourist trail routes. The crowning event will be a large Cycle Festival to be held in the summer. Planning is already underway!
For Bike Week, we decided to concentrate on the council and local businesses, and lunch time and evening cycle rides as well as Dr Bike sessions were organised. In addition we threw down the gauntlet to local businesses to take the cycle challenge, encouraging all their staff to cycle throughout the week. £5,000 was offered to the company that did the most to encourage their staff to cycle, which turned out to be B&Q Warehouse, who encouraged 10 staff onto their bikes during the week.
To ensure the cycling message reaches a target audience with maximum impact, we have begun women only cycle rides. The rides are designed to accommodate all levels and encourage women who don't have the confidence they need to cycle on their own, to get out and about with a group of like minded women. We managed to secure some excellent media coverage for the ride when Radio 4 came along to do some informal interviews with members of the ride and was featured on their Women's Hour programme.
Our marketing activities are continuing with the individualised travel marketing plan which is now in its second year. Between May 2005 and September 2007 every household in Darlington will have been contacted to ensure all residents know what the town has to offer in terms of cycling and other sustainable transport.
It has been infrastructure, infrastructure and more infrastructure in Darlington this month. In February two businesses in Darlington received funding for cycle provision: Exis Technology and New World Hotels both received funds to provide showers, lockers and cycle parking for their staff.
We have also been installing cycling infrastructure in schools. Abbey Junior School received 60 bicycle parking facilities while Holy Family Primary School now has the facilities to park 10 bikes. We are also consulting with Branksome Secondary School about cycle facilities for their staff and students.
Work is underway on the McMullen Road bicycle path, which will provide a necessary link to a large industrial estate and major employment site in Darlington. We are also fortunate to be involved with the construction of the new Haughton Education Village which will have three schools, a primary, secondary and special needs school, all on one site. Cycle routes are being constructed linking the new site to surrounding residential areas and the Darlington cycle network.
Also in the last few weeks we have posted out 3000 of our new cycle maps to residents known to have an interest in cycling. It is hoped that with spring now on the way this will encourage residents to get out on their bikes.
Please contact us at:
Town Hall, Feethams, Darlington, DL1 5QT