Is access to the countryside about to improve?

Public access lands starring role in Bill

Cycling off-road

Agricultural Bill looks good for off-road cycling and walking in the countryside

The Government’s new Agriculture Bill could spell good news for off-road cycling.

The Bill, which covers the arrangements for agricultural payments and subsidies post-Brexit for farmers and landowners, places financial support for improved countryside access up front in Part 1, paragraph 1, section 1b.

Cycling Review for 2017

In 2017 cycling continued to grow exponentially in popularity. In recognition of this and the need to reduce vehicle impact, the Government committed some funding to make cycling safer and increase participation but nowhere near enough to do the job properly. Children continue to want and receive bikes for Christmas but cycling to school is only possible in a minority of locations.

The increased uptake of e-bikes widened the appeal of cycling but the infrastructure in many cities, towns and villages largely failed to keep pace with demand and reasonable safety concerns for a variety of reasons including funding, political will, a vociferous motoring lobby and the decision-making power of non cyclists.

Mass participation events thrived and subject to the limited funding available, trail centres and bike parks increased in size, variation and popularity. Women’s cycling grew as a sport, as a hobby and as a means of transport whilst cycling for health reasons also expanded. Cycle tourism continued to grow in popularity despite low levels of investment due to continued political inertia.

After plateau-ing in the early decade years, mountain biking further resurged whilst cyclo-cross and cycling as part of triathlons continued to increased participation numbers. Cycling clubs abound in the North East and once again professional cycle racing made a huge impression on the region but sadly again left no legacy due to political apathy i.e. the total failure for those in power to see the potential that cycling brings.

The three main reasons people say they don’t cycle are traffic speed, volume and size. Where it’s useful, even modest changes to the highway like removing the centre line to slow down traffic and introducing advisory cycle lanes which cars straddle when the lanes are empty can make a huge difference whilst big changes such as constructing off-highway cycle lanes can significantly release latent demand for safer cycling.

The question is will cycling in 2018 be any different. The certainty is demand will only increase, the variable factor is funding for cycling is scarce but it does exist. The most worrying factor is the political will and energy to prioritise where, when and why available funding for cycling can be wisely spent has been sadly lacking.

Cyclists deserve a better implementation system that guarantees facilities for safer cycling where needed. What we don’t need is the removal of even modest facilities that make cycling safer for no other reason than to appease a minority of motorists.

So why have Councillors in Corbridge celebrated removing much needed cycle lanes

Sadly, there are influential people in Corbridge who successfully campaigned to have the remaining Advisory Cycle Lane on Newcastle Road east of Corbridge removed and the centre line reinstated to return the road to being vehicle dominant to the detriment of cyclists’ safety. And then boasted about it. The message this gives out from Corbridge is that the safety of vulnerable road users should not be considered over the convenience and habits of those local car drivers who don’t understand how cycle lanes work. At least the inconsiderate road-side parking close to Corbridge has been removed which put cyclists at extra risk and pushed eastbound vehicles into the centre of the road.



Massive survey finds that 75% of Brits want protected cycleways built

Most people living in seven British cities surveyed say cycling is a good thing and are far more supportive of bold and ambitious plans for cycling than decision-makers often think. They want dedicated space for people on bicycles even when this means taking space away from cars. Furthermore, People cycling in the seven cities take 111,564 cars off the road each day which if lined up, would equate to a 333 mile tailback  – a distance greater than from Newcastle to Cardiff!

Corbridge Cycle Lanes: latest

Once you saw them – now you don’t. Gone from the south side entirely and double yellow lines should stop thoughtless parking which used to endanger cyclists’ lives and risk  vehicle collisions. Time will tell if NCC has at last got the right balance.

Hopefully a future post soon will be informative re the new cycle paths around the A68 roundabout east of Riding Mill. NCC have been asked to provide the rationale.


The value of green spaces

Well maintained green spaces perform important functions which have an economic value, such as absorbing pollution, which provides people with clean air and reduces pressures on public services. These functions are known as ‘ecosystem services’.

By understanding what an area of land is made up of, its quality, how it is managed, used and the functions it performs, we can better understand the value it provides to a local or wider area, to businesses, communities and society. Natural Capital Accounting is a recognised way of demonstrating this in physical and monetary terms.

Click to access The-Hidden-Value-of-our-Green-Spaces-Jan-17.pdf

Protect our public parks

In just a few days over 140,000 people have signed the petition asking for our parks and cherished green spaces to be properly protected by the government.

The group of MPs tasked with protecting our parks want to hear what the public thinks – but the deadline to have our say is next Friday.

Please will you share the petition with your friends, family and colleagues to help make the petition as big as possible before then? The more of us that sign, the stronger our message will be: parks are for everyone, don’t let them be sold off, or shut down.

To sign the petition visit