Whitchurch, situated on the River Test, surrounded by beautiful Hampshire countryside, and having a number of cafés, shops and pubs is well-situated to be a honeypot for cycling.
It is also just off the National Cycle Network with Route NCN246 passing through the Bourne valley at St Mary Bourne and is also a popular staging point for many organised cycle rides. Indeed every weekend and most days Whitchurch attracts visiting cyclists who are enjoying the town’s facilities.
These visitors bring trade and a vibrancy to the town and indeed add colour and life to the streets – which it must be admitted can look rather unkempt and drab.
Kudos Coffee, in the centre, is exceptionally popular and attracts many to the town with cycles regularly seen propped up outside. Cycles also get parked outside the Co-op and Town Hall where there is seating (although at present that is temporarily unavailable due to building work).
The Silk Mill is also a very popular stop with its lovely tearoom and lawn, and cyclists are made to feel very welcome.
Both these locations are included on independent national cycling sites where cyclists recommend cafés and refreshment stops.
Meanwhile a number of businesses have recognised the benefits of encouraging cyclists with both the White Hart Hotel and the Denning’s of Whitchurch ‘bistro’ providing their own cycle parking.
But is Whitchurch a ‘Cycle Friendly’ town?
It’s a question raising its head in some quarters. The local Town Council recently removed cycle parking in the centre with one reason being that it prevented pavement parking by motor vehicles. Others claimed town centre cycle parking was not used despite evidence to the contrary, and a recent survey of over 100 cyclists showed that town centre parking was required by the majority of respondees. Regrettably one trader has also sadly posted anti-cycling messages on social media but fingers won’t be pointed here! Some of these attitudes would have no place in the more progressive and environmentally aware localities on the continent.
There have also been a few road-rage incidents, but anecdotally no more than elsewhere and almost certainly caused by driver frustration. But its not just cyclists who may cause some of the less considerate drivers anguish but also the preponderance of HGVs and the large vehicles that can congest the narrow streets.
Maybe its just some patience that is required and some greater understanding and mutual respect between all who use the town, whether on foot, bicycle, car, or lorry.
So is Whitchurch cycle friendly? What do you think?
How many out of 10 should it score?
Please leave us your comments.