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IDEA: Inclusive Cycling for all?

Could Whitchurch have an inclusive cycling facility akin to the Wheels for Wellbeing charity scheme, now we have a potential location at Mill Springs?

These centres are popping up across the country to help those of all ages and abilities who wish to cycle safely, as well as help the less able enjoy exercise, the outdoors and meeting others.

Inclusivity, well-being, independence…
As well as general support for anyone who wishes to cycle they provide a range of cycles of various types to help both those less able and those who are maybe returning to cycling and to help maintain independence, join in a social activity, improve health, address inequalities and have fun – and with the added benefit that all helps our climate change needs too.

SUSTRANS is a leader in providing support for inclusive cycling.

Support for training
Such a centre could provide a location for road safety training for young people, for learning to ride sessions and for confidence building to use our roads.

In addition there may be the opportunity to couple it with a small maintenance/training facility to help people fix their own bikes and learn simple bike care, or for young people to learn about cycle mechanics and repairs for future employment skills.

Mill Springs could be a suitable site with access to the new cycle path, close proximity to open areas for learning/confidence building, easy access to the Skatepark/BMX track and wider routes out into the local countryside.

Could this be for Whitchurch?
Its just an idea at the moment, but one that could grow, Being central also to Basingstoke, Newbury, Andover and Winchester, it might even attract others to our town. Whitchurch could become a true centre for cycling, not just for inclusive cycling but also in attracting visitors to its shops, businesses and the wonderful countryside that surrounds the town.
Anyone up for it as a local project?

Sustrans have a good guide to inclusive cycling here:
CYCLING FOR EVERYONE – A guide for inclusive cycling

NEWS: Beware Pothole in Winchester Road

BEWARE – Yet another dangerous pothole.

Take care when entering Whitchurch from the south. There is a deep pothole at the town signpost/entry on Winchester Road that could cause injury or worse. It could easily kill a cyclist and cause serious damage to motor vehicles.

It can catch unawares as it is at the far edge of the rough surface where the painted speed limit roundels are already being warn away. And it is increasing in size.

How long will it take for Hampshire County Council to fix this one?
It has been reported – reference 21547407 which can be used if contacting Hampshire.
Every day that passes puts lives at risk.

NEWS: Loss of Whitchurch Loos (and elsewhere)

Whitchurch could be due to lose its public loos, along with other locations in north Hampshire as the cuts are made to services.

Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council who run the facility is hoping to transfer the responsibility to Whitchurch Town Council but if that isn’t agreed then they will be closed.
The same applies to St Mary Bourne, Kingsclere and Tadley.

Many cyclists, and other visitors as well as residents, find the public toilets essential. They come to Whitchurch, enjoy the cafés, buy refreshments and often will need the loo. Cycling events that attract hundreds of participants such as the Audax rides or local Sportives and Charity rides pass through the town too, using it as a refreshment stop.

It’s not just for cyclists comfort though, as cycling is one of the most valuable activities a town can attract, with cyclists spending more than other visitors, bringing trade to local businesses.

Covid has also made public conveniences even more important with the need for regular hand washing and cleanliness and they are of utmost importance to families with young children, the disabled and elderly.

To close this essential service will make the town less attractive to visit.
Closing them is short-sighted.


Please contact the Town Council with your views.
WHITCHURCH TOWN COUNCIL

NEWS: Take Care in Mill Springs

New housing estates can often result in hazards for road users especially during construction, but also sometimes later too.

Here is a gentle warning if cycling in the new Whitchurch Mill Springs development. As part of the delineation of road surfaces granite sets have been placed between bricked paving areas and black asphalt surfaces, mostly near junctions. Some quite large gaps have been left between these setts creating channels that are in line with where bicycle wheels would travel.


Normally these would be filled but some remain unfinished even though the roads are open for use. Anything below a 32mm tyre is very likely to result in a loss of control. Indeed thinner tyres as on many sports bikes may cause a crash that could potentially be serious.

This is a warning if out on two wheels. It is accepted the works may not all be finished, but if in the area, take great care.

NEWS: Cycling increases Trade

Parking for drivers to access shops and business has always been an ‘issue’ in Whitchurch.
Recent proposals to introduce charging at the car parks have become a hot potato as it is claimed it would affect trade for local businesses.

This raises an interesting question over the removal of the new cycle parking from the town centre, led mainly by a small number of businesses.
So what exactly is best for trade?

Parking in Whitchurch

The Department for Transport has published a research document on this subject – the ‘Value of Cycling’ in conjunction with Birmingham University.
Key Headline findings include a section on ‘Local Economic Benefits’.

This section includes:

  • Cyclists visit local shops more regularly, spending more than users of most other modes of transport; 
  • Per square metre, cycle parking delivers 5 times higher retail spend than the same area of car parking; 
  • A compact town optimised for walking and cycling can have a “retail density” (spend per square metre) 2.5 times higher than a typical urban centre. 

Whitchurch needs to embrace this concept to increase its prosperity.

Importantly the Department for Transport document also includes the following:

“…reports show adding facilities such as bicycle racks and bicycle lanes can actually increase economic activity, and also help create a buffer from moving traffic that aids both pedestrian and bicyclist activity.” 

Can a lively vibrancy and economic buzz in Whitchurch town centre be created?
When the ‘new’ racks are hopefully relocated will this concept be embraced?

A group of visiting cyclists choose the Silk Mill for refreshments with its convenient cycle parking.

NEWS: New Cycle path for Whitchurch

Top of Micheldever Road

Whitchurch has its first ever section of official cycle path completed – or more correctly nearly completed.

The approximately 350 metre section runs from the top of Micheldever Road at the town boundary, past the new sports pitches and down to the new sports pavilion/changing rooms at Mill Springs.

It is a traffic-free shared-use path for cycles and pedestrians and has been provided as part of the Mill Springs development.
It is already being used, as lockdown has resulted in a very large increase in walking and cycling.

The barriers at each end could be better – they are not friendly to today’s standards – trailers, family trailer bikes and cargo cycles would all have difficulty – more thought needed. Even a standard bike needs an unnecessary dismount, but these can and should be easy to remedy.

Heading down towards the pavilion

Signage should also be provided.
Once the planned cycle route along Winchester Road with its crossing near the A34 junction is completed, there will be an onward link through to Tufton and beyond into the countryside. Some direction/distance signs would help, and go some way to creating a joined up network.

This route will avoid the necessity to deal with the notorious Micheldever Road junction and the section of Winchester Road that is all too well-known for speeding drivers.

Top of Mill Springs near the pavilion

Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has a section on shared-use routes that gives good advice as to their use as well as information on cycle planning.
See:
SUSTRANS: SHARED USE PATHS

The new sports pavilion at Mill Springs

NEWS: Opening up the Countryside

Whitchurch is surrounded by beautiful countryside much of it ideal for off-road cycling.
However, the town itself only has one bridleway on which cycling is permitted that provides direct access – from Bloswood Drive northwards over the railway and towards Egbury.
Other routes are either on-road with sharing motor traffic, or footpaths on which cycles are not permitted.
Should there be others?

CyclingUK, the national charity that works for the interests of cycling are asking for details of any ‘missing links’. Duncan Dollimore, CyclingUK’s head of campaigns, has said:
“We want to gather personal stories that show how much we could gain by improving off-road access”.

He explains:
“With close to 80% of the rights of way network in England off-limits to cyclists, it can be really difficult to link up a route on bridleways and byways. Opening up more of our existing network of off-road trails provides so much potential for safe traffic-free routes, and is a cost-effective way of enabling more people to cycle. “

Where could there be better access to our countryside?
It is known that some in the equestrian community would also like some footpaths opened up as bridleways. What about for cycling?
If you know of any routes around Whitchurch please let CyclingUK know:
OPENING UP THE COUNTRYSIDE

NEWS: Local Transport Plan Survey

Hampshire County Council are inviting all residents to have influence in the early development of the new Local Transport Plan by sharing your views.
This is extremely important for the future of sustainable transport in the County.

What will our transport system look like in 2050?
Should we not be asking for targets and change that 2050 to 2030?

What are we trying to achieve in terms of climate change, economy, the environment and society?
Should we not be demanding firm budget figures for the investment? That seems to be missing.

How will we change the way in which we plan and deliver transport?
To view more information and leave feedback, visit:
HAMPSHIRE LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN
Feedback must be submitted directly to HCC by 28 February 2021.

NEWS: Police Commissioner seeks Focus Group

The Hampshire and IOW Police and Crime Commissioner is looking for people to join focus groups, saying:
“you have the opportunity to talk to us about your thoughts, views and experiences on local policing, community safety and solutions to improving the life opportunities for all our residents.
Transport and cycling is an important part of both our lives and our interests. To sign up and register interest see:
FOCUS GROUP REGISTRATION