British Cycling's vision is for Britain to become a true cycling nation:
'Millions of Brits cycle however, millions more never get on a bike at all and many that do don’t consider it a transport option for them or their children.
A big part of the problem is that our towns and cities do not accommodate cycling. For decades our roads have designed for driving and have pushed walking and cycling to the fringes.
It is no coincidence that the rise of societal problems such as the obesity crisis, type-2 diabetes, traffic congestion and air pollution are directly linked to people having no other option than to drive.
Cycling is the only form of transport which can meet the competing agendas of increasing capacity, reducing emissions, increasing physical activity, reducing noise and improving safety.'
MCCF has approached Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council to enable safer cycling in the town centre and connection to the Medway Towpath. The current routes have not been maintained nor upgraded as part of the Maidstone Gyratory Project.
On Sunday 6th March 2017 some MCCF members cycled from the High Street to the start of the Barming Bridge cycle route at the Law Courts. View the challenge below. On the 10th January 2018 MCCF met with MBC to discuss our proposals and ensure they were understood by Sustrans, who have been commissioned by Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council to assess the current provision for walking and cycling in the town centre and along main Walking/Cycling corridors – Sutton Road and Hermitage Lane. The scope of their assessment also includes proposals for linking the corridors i.e. High Street - Maidstone West, East and Barracks – Medway Towpath. MCCF have provided SUSTRANS with their detailed proposals to address the Gyratory issue.
A Walking and Cycling Update Report including the SUSTRANS assessment went to the Maidstone Borough Council Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee on Tuesday 12th June. The report is available for download on the MBC website and on our front page. MCCF spoke at the meeting and expressed their particular concerns with the Gyratory.
Maidstone Joint Transportation Board - Webcast 17th January 2018 - References to Bridges Gyratory System
Current Gyratory Cycle Route
The substantial investment in the Medway Towpath routes have provided a welcome commuting and leisure route between Aylesford to Maidstone and Barming to Maidstone. However, the link between the two sections is challenging and tortuous. MCCF have developed proposals to ‘join’ the two sections using additional lengths of the east bank towpath Ringlestone to the town centre and St Peter’s Bridge to Whatman Park using the west bank towpath.
The Gyratory proposals address some of the challenges. MCCF’s proposals going forward will pave the way for a future change of the Towpath cycle route as it goes through Maidstone. The current route runs along the east bank of the river, and it includes a long dismount section (between Millennium Bridge and Medway Street underpass), dangerous blind spots, very low bridges and an impractical detour away from the river at Medway Street underpass and into National Route 17 until it re-joins the Towpath at the bottom of Moncktons Lane. MCCF strongly believes that the Towpath cycle route should run along the west bank.
MCCF has provided feedback on the draft (March) sustrans Walking and Cycling Assessment. MCCF look forward to the formal adoption of the proposals made in the 'sustrans Walking and Cycling Assessment' and working with MBC and Kent County Council on their implementation.
Children are still more likely to own a bicycle than any other age group, but the proportion of children who own or have access to one has declined steadily over the past decade. Moreover, children are making fewer trips and cycling fewer miles than five years ago. At the same time, bicycle ownership, trips and miles have increased for older people.
Despite Britain's trumpeted sport cycling success in recent years, the proportion of people who own a bike (less than half) and adults who ride a bike (around a quarter) remain unchanged. This presents a challenge for the bicycle industry and government.
Bicycle marketing focused on high performance equipment does not reflect the cycling most people do, and is unlikely to get more people into cycling. Fear of cycling on busy roads, worry about looking silly in Lycra, anxiety over choosing and maintaining a bike: any of these is likely to deter the many people who can't, don't or won't cycle.” Fear of cycling on the road in particular is increasing, despite falling fatality rates.
Without sustained investment in infrastructure, training and other interventions to promote cycling, it is likely that parents' concerns will be transferred to their children, whose starting point we must remember is 'cycling is fun'. Nurturing this intrinsic enthusiasm is essential if cycling children are to grow into cycling adults. “Children need little encouragement to cycle, but they do need permission and support. Industry and government have a responsibility to promote and improve cycling for the vast majority of people who don't yet cycle, not just those who do.
If we are to secure the next generation for cycling, and amass all the transport and health benefits cycling offers, parents in particular must be persuaded that cycling could be, for them, an enjoyable and accessible form of family mobility.