Environment

Devon asked to help Get Britain Cycling

Posted on: 27 February 2013

Devon County Council chiefs have today (Wednesday 27 February) been advising the Government on how to get more people cycling.

Devon was invited to send a representative to Westminster to speak to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s “Get Britain Cycling” inquiry today, following its success with boosting cycling in the county.

The County Council’s Head of Highways, Lester Willmington, addressed the group on the improvements made in Devon which in the past 5 years has helped to encourage around a 15% growth in average daily cycle trips across the whole county, with over 40% growth in Exeter.

Devon County Council has invested over £13.1 million in cycling infrastructure between 2009 and 2012, as well as attracting external funding such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Connect 2 funding from Sustrans and the Big Lottery Fund, and European funding through Cycle West.

The Council’s commitment to cycling was emphasised last July with Cabinet approval for the Devon Cycling Strategy which outlined a further £13.9 million investment programme to 2015.

Mr Willmington said: “We are a local authority that delivers on its commitments and we have a good track record. I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to share our best practice and that alone demonstrates recognition of the strides made in Devon. Certainly the improvements in Exeter focused around linking schools to the cycle network, and this has encouraged an increase in cycling levels where 20% of secondary students in Exeter regularly cycle to school. In all of our work in this area, it is crucial to understand the barriers to cycling as well as understanding the needs of both cyclists and non-cyclists.”

The County Council’s submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group set out how Devon’s growing cycle network now covers over 200km of off-road cycle tracks as well as cycle paths throughout urban areas.

One of the county’s flagship routes, the Exe Estuary Trail, has opened up the possibility for more than 80,000 residents to travel into Exeter by bike from outlying communities. This has seen a 59% increase in annual cycle trips from around 70,000 to more than 110,000.

Since 2007 over 20,000 children across Devon have received Bikeability training in the County. Funding for 2013 will enable a further 7,000 children to receive training which improves their skills and confidence.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “We made a commitment to be a cycling county and we have achieved that – improving infrastructure to make cycling a more realistic option for local people, whether they’re travelling to work or school or cycling in their leisure time. The improvements to our cycle network have made our county an even more attractive destination for visitors, which is helping to support our local economy. We have a number of well-established, high profile routes such as the Tarka Trail, as well as more recently completed routes such as Drake’s Trail, which is part of the European Cycle West routes.”

Devon’s Cycling Strategy is setting out aspirations on how to create better connections between Devon’s 29 Market and Coastal Towns and to make it a feasible option for people to travel by bike where they live, learn, work and play.

Pedestrian and cycle facilities have formed an integral part of the recently developed infrastructure linking the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point to Exeter’s Cycle Network through the improvements of M5 Junction 29 and the construction of the Redhayes cycle and pedestrian bridge across the M5.

The investment made by Devon County Council in cycling in recent years has been recognised with Devon County Council being ranked the best performing county authority in regards to cycling in the National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey 2012, as well as receiving a number of awards including the Cycling Improvements Awards at the National Transport Awards in 2010, and Best All Round Scheme for Tourism from the Devon Federation of Small Businesses last year.

4 comments on “Devon asked to help Get Britain Cycling

  1. ExeterCyclist says:

    Oh the irony of this when they won’t even join the cycle to work scheme…

    • Devon Newscentre says:

      We stopped offering the Cycle-to-Work scheme after the Government issued guidance relating to the way the rules of salary sacrifice schemes can be interpreted. The upshot is that we can’t run that original scheme any more, and if we were to run a similar scheme that’s compliant with the Government’s guidance, the cost to employees would be comparable with deals that they can get anyway at local cycle dealers. Therefore for the time being, there’s not the financial benefit to justify running the scheme.

  2. Jo Elliott says:

    This is a very positive article which I hope encourages further funding for important routes to enable students to cycle to school safely.

  3. paul jones says:

    I’m delighted to see we are being listened to as a cycling county. I do hope the maintenance and improvement of exisiting cycle routes gets just as much attention and investment as we put into creating new ones

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