Lancaster and Morecambe City Council and its partners want a cycle friendly city spanning the coast to countryside that is comprehensive and integrated. In the city, cycling participation is currently 3.8 per cent. The aim is to double the levels of cycling in the district by the end of 2008 and become the cycling capital of the North West.
One priority is getting a local by-law changed so that cyclists can ride on the Prom. At the moment the promenade, which is wide enough for riders and walkers and stretches for several miles, is for pedestrians only. Lancaster and Morecambe are pushing to change this so that cyclists can enjoy the panoramic views across Morecambe Bay.
The Cycling Demonstration Town will also be making improvements to the Canal Towpath in order to make it a more pleasant place to cycle than the congested town centre. Work is underway to make access to the towpaths easier for cyclists, for example, changing steps to flat slopes, and re-surfacing will also be carried out.
Lancaster and Morecambe City Council has a higher than average number of employees cycling to work and plans are afoot to work with more businesses in the area to encourage cycling by improving facilities, showers and storage for example, as well as offering 'cycling mileage' for those who choose to travel to work by bicycle. Lancaster is also fortunate to have two universities who are both already on board and encouraging cycling among the staff and students.
The vision for the town is to create a real culture change that will not only see cycling become a mainstream and popular way for people to travel, but will also see the community embrace and celebrate cycling's role in reducing traffic growth and congestion.
We encourage everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to make more journeys by bicycle this year.
We are delighted with our last quarter’s achievements. A number of new cycle links have been created or improved on the Lancaster & Morecambe Greenway, officially Lancashire’s business cycleway. Residents living within 400m of these works have already been sent copies of our walking and cycling map and new improved signs were erected along the route last month.
We have also resurfaced the Lancaster Canal Towpath from the north of Lancashire, over the Line Aqueduct, and into the city centre. We are currently consulting over further schemes for the New Year including a new cycle route to Lancaster University and the opening up of Morecambe Parade.
Our team has also been kept busy with training around the county. Our Bike Buddy Scheme was launched in August 2006 offering a few services to residents to help new and returning cyclists find safe routes from their home to work and other regular destinations.
We have recruited eleven local cyclists who have undertaken the four day national standard training programme allowing them to provide cycle training in workplaces and at community groups. Well done to them! And we would like to welcome Beverly ‘Bee’ Harding who joined us back in August. She is our new Workplace Cycling Officer and is hoping to encourage more staff to cycle to work.
In October our first Bobbies on Bikes took to the streets of Morecambe. In total eight bikes will be purchased by the CDT project in partnership with the local Constabulary who will provide all the clothing and safety equipment.
Kathy Bashford, our Bike It officer, has continued to achieve great things within schools. She has been encouraging local children to take up cycling. The CDT project is funding training to the new National Standard in schools as well as providing secure cycle parking.
It has been an exciting quarter and we are looking forward to the challenges in store over the forthcoming year.
Our biggest focus of the summer was Bike Week, during which we organised the cycling family fun day. 150 attendees got the chance to try out time-trialing on the Salt Ayre race circuit, mountain boarding plus fun races and a cycling obstacle course.
While local trial rider Ben Slinger, Team Extreme and BMXers were there to engage young people, we put on the cycling treasure hunt for families with younger children, who all received bike wheel reflectors and other give-aways for taking part. Visitors also had the chance for a free bike check and to find out more about cycling in the local area. Bike Week also saw us host a special Journey for Life Day, encouraging staff to come to work by bike. All those that did enjoyed a free healthy breakfast and a fitness test. All in all 60 staff took part in the event.
In addition to our Bike Week activities, we have recently appointed a new cycling officer who started in August.
We have produced a cycling guide for families and visitors, a new cycling map and distributed a cycling guide to 60,000 houses. Our training programme continues apace and we will be running promotion campaigns targeted at men, to ensure everyone has a chance to benefit from on-road cycle training. We have also announced the winner of our win a bike competition which drew in some fantastic entries, as well as the outcome of our Community Chest fund, to support local cycling initiatives.
The highlight in Lancaster and Morecambe this month has been Derek Twigg's visit on the 27th of February. The day started with a briefing session with the Minister, Phillip Darnton from Cycling England and Peter Toker, Corporate Director from Lancaster City Council. This was followed by a rather cold bike ride photo opportunity on Millenium Bridge.
The briefing, which was attended by a number of organisations including the County and City Council, Pedal Power, Lancaster University and Cycle Aid, stimulated lively and healthy discussion about the development of cycling in Lancaster and Morecambe. It was especially good to see our two local MPs, Ben Wallace from the Conservative Party and Geraldine Smith from the Labour Party, agreeing on the importance of cycling and supporting our achievements.
The day was also a fabulous success for the promotion of cycling. We received on the day coverage from BBC Radio, BBC TV, local Bay Radio, the Lancashire Evening Post, the Lancashire Guardian, Morecambe Visitor, The Citizen, Surveyor, PR Week and Radio Four 'You and Yours' have asked to do a follow up on the day. It just goes to show what you can do with the Minister of Transport, a sunny day and a bicycle!
In addition to Derek Twigg's visit, Kathy Bashford has been appointed Lancaster and Morecambe District's new Bike It Officer. Kathy, who currently works as a Schools Officer for the Lancs Wildlife Trust on a waste awareness project, will take up her new post at the beginning of April. Kathy is a welcome addition to the CDT team and we look forward to working with her and supporting the work she will be doing.
Please contact us at:
Palatine Hal, Dalton Square, Lancaster, LA1 1PW