News & Views

TRANQUIL SANDGATE SUNDAY: 30/03/13

Having agreed a signage strategy with Sandgate’s Beach Advisory Group, Cycle Shepway checked on the use of the seafront at Granville Parade at 1pm. Result: It was not very busy, despite the lovely weather. Admittedly, it was Mothers’ Day so families may have been treating Mum to lunch.

We have agreed to site signs at either end of Granville Parade, the central stretch of Sandgate’s seafront, saying: “Cyclists Dismount at Busy Times”. Today there would have been no reason to wheel your bike through.

We’ve also agreed to have signs at either end of the longer Sandgate stretch reading: “Sandgate Welcomes Careful Cyclists”. Cyclists seemed pretty careful today and nobody plunged the six-feet to the newly graded shingle beach – a concern of the Sandgate folk regarding liability.

BUT a car was parked on the prom at Granville Parade and many cars, as usual, were parked on the dual-use pavement (i.e. walkers and cyclists) as on Sandgate Esplanade. Cycle Shepway and Sandgate Parish Council must press Kent County Council for more bollards to stop this selfish practice.

 

LIVELY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

It was a sparky session at Cycle Shepway’s third annual general meeting on January 30 2014, not least because of the presence of Cllr Russell Tillson, SDC’s deputy chairman and Shepway Cycling Champion.  See the minutes. The following were elected for a further year:

Chairman:                David Taylor

Secretary:                Rhona Hodges

Treasurer:                Alan Joyce

Deputy chairman:      Joe Grey

Spokes Liaison:         Paul Rees

Committee

Jean Baker (Founder)

Simon Barnes

Steve Burton

Nigel Kendal

Jeff Lyle

Hugh Robertson-Ritchie

Shane Record

Mark Tuson

 

CHANGES AT SPOKES

Steve Fawke has stepped down after nine years chairing Spokes, the Canterbury-based East Kent cycling campaign federation of which Cycle Shepway is part. He’s done a magnificent job and will be missed. Changes also on the committee and a new editor for The Mudguard, the Spokes newsletter which this month features CS chairman DT.

 

KEEPING UP THE MOMENTUM

David Taylor writes:  As winter approaches cycling can be less appealing.  That excludes, of course, tough-nuts like Jeff Lyle and Paul Rees who never let the odd squall stop them pedalling.  Politically, however, the changing season shouldn’t let us ease up and take our collective eye off the campaign.

At the next joint meeting of Cycle Shepway and the Cinque Ports Working Committee at 6pm on Thursday November 28, there’s much to consider.  See the minutes from our sparky session on October 8.  Jean Baker is pushing for action at the 3 Hills Sports Centre and Radnor Park.  Joe Grey, Alex Sansom and Sprucer Peter Phillips are carrying out a signage survey along the seafront.

I’m due to report on opening negotiations with the MoD about easing fencing along the northern perimeter of the Hythe Ranges to let through the cycleway.  Russell Tillson is brokering meetings with Cllr Susan Carey, chair of the Joint Transportation Board, and Cllr Alan Clifton-Holt, SDC economy cabinet member, on why they are opposed to the Cinque Ports Cycleway.

So, lots to do and, hopefully, lots to report on November 28.

 

CYCLING OR NO CYCLING, THAT IS THE QUESTION:

This ambiguous signage at Aldergate Bridge, where NCR2 turns south and away from the Royal Military Canal, somehow typifies the attitude of our elected representatives to cycling. On the one hand, we have most SDC members voting for the adoption of the 2011 Shepway Cycling Plan and the realization of the Cinque Ports Cycleway.

On the other, we have two members voting against – Cllr Alan Clifton-Holt, who mistakenly believed we were recommending the coastal cycleway would be driven to the shoreward side of Hythe Ranges, and Cllr Susan Carey, chair of the Joint Transportation Board, who thought Clifton-Holt “had a point”. He did, but it was entirely mistaken.

Hailing from the economically troubled Marsh, you’d imagine Clifton-Holt would favour the cycleway which is bound to draw thousands of cyclists, especially from London, to ride the delightful 20 miles from Folkestone to Dungeness. Similarly, shouldn’t we expect the leader of our transportation board to back each and every off-road initiative as cycling becomes ever more popular and ever more dangerous as witnessed by the tragic death of a cyclist last week in a collision with a car near Folkestone West railway station. 

It’s vital that Cllr Carey is acquainted with the facts. At Tuesday’s Cycle Shepway meeting (08/10/13), chairman David Taylor will propose an informal meeting with Cllr Carey, possibly brokered by SDC Cycling Champion Russell Tillson, and also attended by our own Cllr Martin Whybrow who is also a member of the transportation board. Tuesday’s meeting is in two parts – 6pm for Cinque Ports Cycleway affairds, 7pm for the quarterly Cycle Shepway gathering. Come along and have your say.

Jean Baker will raise a couple of issues. Firstlly, her delight at the completion of cyclepath signage and markings at the Three Hills Sports Park and, secondly, her continuing concern at the ill-siting of cycle stands on the down line of Folkestone West station. Why can’t they be moved out of the weather and under the platform awning where there is plenty of space?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT A WEEK!

Double cause for celebration on Wednesday and Thursday.  Firstly, on 18/09/13, Shepway District Council voted overwhelmingly to adopt as official policy the 2011 Shepway Cycling Plan and the Cinq Ports Cycleway project .  Secondly, on 19/09/13, Folkestone Town Council voted unanimously to contribute £10,000 towards the continued work of the Folkestone Town Sprucer, one of whose tasks is to keep the seafront clear of shingle for cyclists.

At a full session of SDC, Cycling Champion Cllr Russell Tillson (pictured with Folkestone Sprucer Peter Phillips) proposed the adoption of the cycling plan and the cycleway project in an entertaining and Churchillian fashion:  “There’ll be many battles,” he opined, “but we’ll fight ‘em on the beaches, …”  He was seconded by Deputy Cycling Champion Cllr Lynn Beaumont.  As Russell said later: “Went like a dream….So now it’s official!”

Only two members voted against – Cllr Alan Clifton-Holt and Cllr Susan Carey.  Clifton-Holt got the wrong end of the stick telling the meeting that it was proposed to drive the Cinq Ports Cycleway through the seaward side of the Hythe Rangers!  What?  Where did he get that crackpot notion?  As a supporter posted on Facebook: “Cycling is dangerous enough without being shot at!”  If Clifton-Holt had done his homework and read the Cycleway Study, he’d know the route skirts the northern landward side of the ranges.

As for Cllr Carey, she later emailed Paul Rees: “ I thought Cllr Clifton-Holt made a good point about the route and on reflection I think there’s more merit in developing the cycle route along the Royal Military Canal as this is more likely to be successful.  As you know I was in the minority.”  David Taylor comments: “Thank goodness for that.  We want both routes – coastal and canal.  But it’s a pity Cllr Carey is so misinformed when she chairs the SDC/KCC Joint Transportation Board.   We must educate.”

Next day at the Town Hall, Cllr Paul Marsh proposed that FTC contribute £10,000 to the continued work of the Town Sprucer.  “This initiative is like a breath of fresh air,” said Paul, “and an embarrassment to SDC and the Radnor Estate who should be carrying out this work.”  With no dissenters, the motion was carried to applause from the public gallery.  Sprucer Peter Phillips said: “The grant will take me right through the winter when the seafront problem is worst.  We’ll keep the promenade shingle-free for cyclists.”

Quite a week.

 

DUAL-USE PATHS FOR RADNOR PARK?

Pictures from Jean Baker of the paths in Radnor Park, Folkestone, and their suitability for designation as dual-use for cyclists and pedestrians. In an email to Bob Porter, SDC’s supportive Head of Communities, Jean says: “There are two paths a metre or two apart and parallel (more or less) with each other that encircle the entire park.

“The inner path is very wide and it is this, I suggest, that is ideal for shared use. On the north side, the outer path is to the north of Radnor Park pond but here too the inner path alone is plenty wide enough for dual use.

“From the Three Hills Sports Ground the Shepway Cycling Plan’s main east/west route crosses Cornwallis Avenue (the main north/south route) to quiet Wilton Road and thence to Radnor Park.

“The kerb on the park’s western boundary immediately opposite the junction with Wilton Road is very high. And there are often cars parked across this ‘entrance’. A dropped kerb would be necessary here (the only one I think) and the access cleared of cars. Other than this it would, I believe, just be a question of signage – metal signs or stencils?”

 

ACHIEVED AND UNDER-ACHIEVED

Jean Baker, founder of our cycle group, writes: “The marked cycle path through the car park at Folkestone’s Three Hills sports ground is quite a triumph. It also a demonstrates of how far we’ve come since we were told, some time ago, that the car park would prove an insuperable obstacle to our suggested east/west route!”

Chairman Taylor writes: “Compare that “easy-win” with the pathetic cycle “stands” installed goodness-knows-when and by whom on Sandgate seafront (3rd picture). Come on Sandgate Parish Council, how about pushing for some sturdy and welcoming stands like those at Folkestone Central (last pic).”

 

OUR CHAMPION COUNCILLORS!

Good luck to Shepway Cycling Champion Cllr Russell Tillson and Cllr Lynne Beaumont who are respectively proposing and seconding the following motion at the next meeting of Shepway District Councll on September 18:

This Council recognises the economic, environmental, recreational and health benefits of cycling.

It endorses the aspirations behind Cycle Shepway’s petition in respect of the proposed Cinque Ports Cycle Way and congratulates the Cinque Ports Cycle Way Working Group on the valuable preparatory work it has already completed.

This Council acknowledges that the 2011 Shepway Cycling Plan was previously adopted as policy by Kent County Council, and formally endorses the Plan as council policy, in recognition of its continuing commitment to the provision of better and safer cycling in the District.

 

SANDGATE SEAFRONT CYCLING – IT’S OFFICIAL!

Snapped at Sandgate by Jean Baker, this Shepway District Council sign is a significant step forward in the campaign for the Cinque Ports Cycleway. For the first time it acknowledges that cycling is “open” on the seafront. Well done SDC officers and Cycling Champion Cllr Russell Tillson – you are getting behind us.

 

HUB2PUB: SELECT FEW ON OUR BEST YET CYCLE RIDE

Glorious weather and the lightest breeze at our backs, Sunday July 14 was the most enjoyable annual Cycle Shepway ride to date, given the blustery conditions of the past two rides in June. We did well to switch to July. Numbers were down – the holiday season – but spirits were up. With the sea like a mill pond and the sweet scents of summer along the Military Canal, it was a delightful ride to Botolphs Bridge Inn. What conviviality to sip beer and cider in the sunshine at the end of our seven miles. And many thanks to Cllr Russell Tillson, Shepway Cycling Champion and SDC deputy leader, who eschewed a council jolly to Boulogne, to flag us off at Sandgate. THANKS TO ALL OUR RIDERS.

 

JTB BACKS CINQUE PORTS CYCLEWAY

A little progress on our Cinque Ports Cycleway at the 01/07/13 meeting of the Joint Transportation Board.

Following the presentation of Cycle Shepway’s 1,500-name petition, backed by MP Damian Collins, the project was “noted and endorsed”. Cllr Rory Love urged KCC Highways and Transportation to tackle the project little by little where some sections of the route were more easily realised than others. This would avoid the long-term delay inevitable if the go-ahead were awaited for the entire 20-mile stretch.

It was heartening to have the support of the JTB and no dissenting voices. Alas, few members were aware of the Cinque Ports Cycleway Working Committee that we have set up with KCC and SDC officers and members. We must put that right. We’ll invite Richard Heaps, the KCC Transportation Engineer for this area, to join the working committee which is jointly chaired by Cycle Shepway chairman David Taylor and SDC deputy leader Cllr Russell Tillson.

Cllr Tillson is keen that David Taylor should have a seat on the JTB. That’s good news given earlier opposition from key JTB members. But, with the recent KCC elections, the composition of JTB has changed. Even have one of our committee members, Cllr Martin Whybrow (pictured), the Green member for Hythe, now sits on the JTB. Progress!

The Joint Transportation Board, whose members are drawn from members and officers of KCC and SDC, meets quarterly.

A week earlier, on 24/06/13, David Taylor chaired the first meeting of the Cinque Ports Cycleway Working Committee. It was agreed that David and Cllr Russell Tillson, deputy leader of Shepway District Council and its Cycling Champion, would co-chair the committee. The other members:

Bob Porter, Head of Communities, SDC

Colin Finch, Senior Projects, Regulatory Services Group, KCC

Cllr Lynne Beaumont, SDC member,and Deputy Cycling Champion

Cllr Martin Whybrow, SDC member for Hythe

Joe Grey, deputy chairman Cycle Shepway, author of cycleway study

Rhona Hodges, secretary Cycle Shepway and secretary to working committee

Jean Baker, founder Cycle Shepway (formerly Shepway Cycle Forum)

Paul Rees, Cycle Shepway

Mark Tuson, Cycle Shepway, special member for Romney Marsh

 

Read what was discussed and agreed: CyclewayCommittee24.06.13

 

The next meeting of the Working Committee is on Monday, August 19, 6pm at the Civic Centre.

 

CYCLING GURU RICHARD BALLANTINE DIES

DAVID TAYLOR writes: The most remarkable and inspirational cyclist I met while making the 1991 BBC series BICYCLE has died. Richard Ballantine was not only a great technical expert, but he wrote and spoke of cycling with passion and romance. This is the obituary in The Times of June 1, 2013:

 Richard Ballantine

Ballantine: he was lyrical about cycling — “As you hum along you fully and gloriously experience the day, the sunshine, the clouds, the breezes. You’re alive”

Author of Richard’s Bicycle Book, an influential guide to everything to do with cycling, from dealing with punctures to dangerous dogs

Richard Ballantine was the author of one of the most influential books on cycling of the past 40 years. He wrote Richard’s Bicycle Book — A manual of bicycle maintenance and enjoyment, which sold more than a million copies and inspired many people to take up cycling after its publication in 1972.

Ballantine was born in Kingston, New York, into a publishing family: his parents Ian and Betty set up Ballantine Books, which pioneered the idea that works could be published simultaneously in hardback and paperback.

He was raised in Woodstock and educated at The Browning School in New York and at Columbia University — experiences that he later described as “no academic education worth mentioning”. He had a number of jobs including chef, salesman and shooting-gallery attendant, then went on write, co-write and edit books covering a wide variety of subjects, from the history of the Vietnam war and the Apollo 11 Moon landing to sport and a study of a pack of wolves living in the Rockies. His mother was English, and he settled in Britain in the early 1970s, living for a time on Dartmoor before moving to London.

Richard’s Bicycle Book was helped by fortunate timing: a year after it was published an Opec oil embargo led to a substantial increase in fuel prices and a resurgence in cycling. But it was Ballantine’s distinctive writing style that made the book a bestseller: he combined green campaigning with strong anarchist and hippy tones. “Consciousness, self-awareness and development are the prerequisites of a life worth living . . . [when cycling] you experience the tang of the air and the surge of power as you bite into the road. You’re vitalised. As you hum along you fully and gloriously experience the day, the sunshine, the clouds, the breezes. You’re alive!”.

He also enthused about the advantages of cycling for health, personal finances and the environment — or “ecology”, as it was more commonly called. Unusually for cycling books of the time, Ballantine talked about the bicycle as something that could and should be incorporated into the warp and weft of everyday life rather than simply used for sport and recreation at the weekends. (He likened the use of a car for short journeys to “using an atomic bomb to kill a canary”.)

Much of the book was devoted to practical advice: how to ride safely in traffic, guidance on what bike to buy and detailed instructions — down to the last ball bearing — on how to maintain and repair it. And all of this was delivered in a chatty, witty, informal style. In the words of his son, Shawn, Ballantine “gave a human voice to the cycling community”.

Richard’s Bicycle Book even managed to inject humour into a grisly section on how to deal with aggressive animals: “Dogs and other creatures of the field and air are a menace to the cyclist,” he wrote. “I was once attacked by a determined and large goose.” Ballantine — who was deeply sentimental about the dog that shared the family home in North London — then went on to give graphic and bloodcurdling instructions on how to deal with a vicious dog. He suggested that in extreme and desperate circumstances, the cyclist could kill his or her attacker by ramming a bicycle pump down the animal’s throat.

Ballantine was a strong advocate of cycling as a means of everyday transport, and held trenchant views on the design of roads and how to make them safer for cyclists. He was opposed to the idea of segregated cycle lanes, insisting that keeping cyclists in the main flow of traffic both reminded motorists that there were bikes about and avoided problems where roads intersected.

He was a pioneer in encouraging the adoption of new types of bicycles and bicycling. Ballantine imported the first batch of commercially available mountain bikes into the UK. He was also an enthusiastic champion of the human-powered vehicle (HPV) — typically a bicycle or tricycle in which the rider is lying down, and with a fairing to reduce wind resistance. Ballantine was one of the founders of the British Human Power Club in 1983, and he remained its chairman until his death. He was also chairman of the World Human Powered Vehicle Association.

Ballantine wrote several further volumes on cycling. Some — such as Richard’s 21st Century Bicycle Book and Ultimate Bicycle Book — were essentially repackaged, updated and more lavishly illustrated versions of the original. But others dealt with specific aspects of cycling: the most recent, City Cycling, appearing in 2007. He helped to launch Bicycle magazine and Bicycle Action and was an editorial consultant for other publications in Britain and the US.

Ballantine, who had been suffering from cancer, died in London. A memorial service is to be held tomorrow; his body is to be transported by a bicycle hearse. He is survived by his wife, Sherry, and three children.

Richard Ballantine, author, publisher and cycling advocate, was born on July 25, 1940. He died on May 29, 2013, aged 72.

 

WORKING PARTY FOR CYCLEWAY & PLAN

At a remarkably amicable Cycle Shepway meeting on April 10, Cllr Russell Tillson, Shepway District Council’s newly appointed Cycling Champion, agreed to set up a working committee to realise Shepway’s five-year Cycling Plan and the Cinque Ports Cycleway.  The committee would comprise members and officers of SDC, Kent County Council and six members of Cycle Shepway.

Cllr Tillson assured the meeting that the cycleway project was fully supported by SDC Leader, Cllr Bliss and the majority of council members.  He commended the survey prepared by Joe Grey and suggested that most obstacles had been overstated by opponents and could be overcome.  He proposed to seek “quick wins” to accelerate progress on the Plan which had been neglected by SDC over the past two years.

Aims of the committee would be:

  • Organising the cycleway and identifying “quick wins”
  • Integrating the cycleway with Sustrans Route 2
  • Organising an audit of the route in consultation with KCC
  • Expediting implementation of the Cycle Plan for Shepway District
  • Involving other stakeholders

Cycle Shepway chairman David Taylor commented:  “After years of indifference from SDC, we were bowled over by Russell Tillson’s enthusiasm and determination to see through both the cycleway project and the Shepway Cycling Plan which, after all, was agreed two years ago and none of which has been implemented.  We are starting to motor – or should that be pedal!”

Read the minutes.

 

SDC APPOINTS CYCLING CHAMPION

Cllr Russell Tillson, Conservative member for Dymchurch and St Mary’s Bay and cabinet member for localism, has been appointed Cycling Champion at Shepway District Council.  Charged by Leader Robert Bliss to oversee the realisation of the Cinque Ports Cycleway and the five-year Shepway Cycling Plan, Cllr Tillson will attend the Cycle Shepway quarterly meeting on April 10.

His appointment follows the March 20 council meeting when SDC gave qualified support for the cycleway, together with the implementation of the district cycle plan which was agreed in 2011 by the Joint Transportation Board of SDC and Kent County Council – and none of which has been effected.

Cycle Shepway chairman David Taylor says: “This is a heartening step forward.  At last we have a focal point at SDC.  We greatly look forward to working with Cllr Tillson.  On the cycleway alone, he has a tremendous opportunity to leave Shepway a lasting legacy for health, recreation and the economic regeneration of the coastal towns.”

As Cllr Lynne Beaumont, who tabled the original motion at the SDC meeting, said: “Just because it’s difficult is no reason not to back the cycleway.”

 

SDC BACKS CYCLEWAY AND CYCLING PLAN – WITH BRAKES

In a meeting dogged by procedural confusion, Shepway District Council gave qualified backing the CINQUE PORTS CYCLEWAY campaign and the implementation of the SHEPWAY CYCLING PLAN on Wednesday, March 20.  It was progress – of sorts.  And, despite the best efforts of Cllr Lynne Beaumont (pictured centre with bike and basket) who tabled the motion, the debate was shot through with misunderstandings. 

Clearly, few members had read our detailed study of the cycleway or were aware that not a jot of the Shepway Cycling Plan had been implemented since it was agreed by SDC in 2011 via the Joint Transportation Board with Kent County Council.

But let’s not carp.  Our cycleway petition, so enthusiastically embraced by MP Damian Collins, whose idea it was, is now in focus.  Thanks are due to the councillors who supported and spoke for the scheme.  Our task is now to set up a working committee with SDC to carry the project forward. 

Below is a view by Rhona Hodges, Cycle Shepway’s able secretary, on the SDC meeting.  Bear in mind Rhona’s long association with Cycle Shepway and the forum that preceded it, together with her years at SDC in committee administration:

In the second half of the 1990’s, the Friends of the Earth cycling pressure group “Cycle-logical” made a number of suggestions to SDC for improving cycle routes around Folkestone and Hythe.  The document was considered in a light-hearted way by the Councillors, and they jocularly agreed to appoint a Labour councillor from the Marsh as a Cycling Champion purely because he owned a bike.  Nothing happened as a result, and the group’s suggestions remained for many winters mouldering in the long grass.

Fast-forward to March 2013.  Cycle Shepway’s suggestions to improve the District’s facilities for cyclists as a stimulant to the local economy have been incorporated into the Shepway Cycling Plan, accepted by the Joint Transportation Board of SDC and KCC in 2011 and placed on the shelf at SDC for two years.  Cllr Lynne Beaumont submits a motion asking the present Council to support the urgent implementation of the Plan, to back the idea of a coastal route from Folkestone to Dungeness as proposed in the Petition delivered by Damian Collins, to set up a working committee to realise the project and appoint a cycling tsar for Shepway.

The members listen to Cllr Beaumont and immediately seize upon the idea of appointing Cllr Tillson as cycling tsar.

More significantly Cllr Clifton-Holt proposes an amendment to the Motion so as to support the plan for the route “in principle”, thereby removing all sense of urgency from the proposal.  As Cllr Love subsequently points out, the Plan as a whole has been accepted by the Council at the Joint Transportation Board in 2011;  Cllr Clifton-Holt was at that time one of the few objectors to the Plan.

Cllr Peter Monk assures members that progress has been made on the Plan “behind the scenes”;  members of the public in the gallery wait in vain for details of these activities, none of which have been communicated over the years to Cycle Shepway.

Clearly few of the members have taken the time to read Cycle Shepway’s survey of the coastal route – one councillor has the idea that it relied on the closure of the MOD ranges in Hythe.  The amended Motion is approved.

Times have changed in other Districts.  Canterbury and Thanet have significant networks of cycle paths, the Oyster Trail and the Deal path draw cyclists onto the seafront.  Only Shepway chooses to ignore the possibilities of its seafront, and prefers to hesitate and stroke its collective beard when presented with an innovative project by its MP. 

Rhona Hodges, Secretary, Cycle Shepway 

 

HEAD OF COMMUNITIES TO MEET CYCLE SHEPWAY

With the car parking debate continuing to exercise Folkestone, Bob Porter, Shepway District Council’s Head of Communities, has kindly agreed to attend the next Cycle Shepway meeting on Wednesday, April 10, at the Civic Centre.  Cycle Shepway has no stance on parking, other than measures to encourage cycling and facilitate cycle stands, so it will be an excellent opportunity to explore issues with a senior SDC officer who is also a keen cyclist.

Following chairman designate Peter Wallace’s report (see below) on the first meeting of SDC’s Parking Forum, Bob took issue with the tone of the report and its criticism of Bob and his fellow officer Fred Miller as being “unhelpful”.  Bob answers Peter thus:   

For the record:

1.  We responded to every question that was put to us in an honest and open way.

2.  We repeated our offer to share any information about parking statistics that the forum wanted to see.  Much of the data we hold has already been published in any event.

3.  We produced and circulated the report requested by members of the forum setting out the implications of proposals discussed.

4.  There was no discussion about the number of free parking bays in Folkestone.

I understand that you (i.e. Peter Wallace) attended the forum as a representative from Cycle Shepway.  The issues raised by Cycle Shepway when first accepted the invitation to join the parking forum were how to encourage more cars into off-street parking to free kerb space for cyclists and whether any surpluses from on-street parking charges could be invested in improved cycle ways.  As a keen cyclist myself I consider that these would be very important issues to discuss.  It is disappointing that they were not raised at all at the meeting.

I hope that we can work more collaboratively on this issue in future. I assure you that we will continue to provide impartial advice and support to the forum so that it can complete its work effectively.

Cycle Shepway chairman David Taylor comments:  “We are a democratic crowd at Cycle Shepway, so I welcome Bob’s acceptance of our invitation to continue the discussion in a constructive fashion.  It promises to be an useful meeting.” 

 

MP PRESENTS OUR CINQUE PORTS CYCLEWAY PETITION

At a good humoured ceremony in Folkestone on Friday, March 15, MP Damian Collins presented the Cycle Shepway petition for a 20-mile coast-hugging cycleway.  The 1,500-name petition was received by representatives of Kent County Council, Shepway District Council, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence, together with civic leaders from Hythe, New Romney and Folkestone.

The cycleway, which Damian Collins originally suggested to Cycle Shepway chairman David Taylor, has been named Cinque Ports Cycleway, coined by Spokes chairman Steve Fawkes to link the route in the public’s mind with a geographic entity.  The petition urges support for a project that will boost health, tourism and the coastal economy between Folkestone, Dungeness and Lydd.

Happily, there was much enthusiasm and promises of supports from the recipients – Cllr Carole Waters for KCC, Cllr Hugh Barker for SDC, Mark Douch for the Environment Agency and Major Glyn Shaw for the Ministry of Defence, as well as Cllr Rodica Wheeler, Mayor of Folkestone, Cllr Alan Ewart-James, past Mayor of Hythe, and Cllr Jane Hiscock, Deputy Mayor of New Romney.

A gazebo was kindly supplied by John Barber of Folkestone Town Centre Management, flags by Spokes and music from Shane and Rudy Warman.

Along with the petition, the MP handed recipients a study of the cycleway by Cycle Shepway’s Joe Grey – see below. The petition remains open and can be signed online –see below.

The petition is due to be considered by Shepway District Council on Wednesday, March 20, in a motion tabled by Cllr Lynne Beaumont.  It calls for the implementation of the five-year Shepway Cycling Plan, agreed in 2011 and so far not acted upon, as well as support for the Cinque Ports Cycleway.

Sign the Petition

Cinque Ports Cycleway Study

Shepway Cycling Plan

Pictures of the cinque ports cycleway petition

Click on the picture to view the next or sit back and enjoy the slideshow

 

CYCLE SHEPWAY AT LYDD WINTERVAL

Living up to its name, the Lydd Winterval on 22/02/13 was a pretty chilly affair with snow flurries and a biting wind flapping at the SDC marquee.  Nevertheless, the Cycle Shepway stand, manned by David Taylor and Peter Phillips attracted much interest.  We gathered 46 signatures for the Cinque Ports Cycleway and there was lots of enthusiasm for the project, especially from the Mayor of Lydd Cllr Graham Snell.

For all the world like the snow queen, Cllr Carole Walters, in an elegant white outfit and black boots, confirmed her support for the cycleway.  Once we’ve confirmed the day MP Damian Collins presents our petition to KCC, SDC, the Environment Agency and the MoD, Carole will receive it on behalf of the county council.  The date we’ve suggested to Damian is Friday, March 15.

 

FIRST PARKING FORUM MEETING “A SHAMBLES”

Representing Cycle Shepway, chairman designate Peter Wallace described the first meeting of the Parking Forum at the Civic Centre, Folkestone, on February 12 as “an absolute shambles”.  Here’s his report:

Attending were councillors, council officers, residents, traders and other representatives including Stagecoach and Cycle Shepway.  We talked for about 2.5 hours, wasting the first hour bickering about why Shepway District Council hadn’t done something sooner.  Martyn Jackson was irate that the forum was meeting in February, when it should have started in December.

We spent another 1.5 hours arguing over small details – such as how many disabled bays Folkestone was legally obliged to have, whether the representative from the Stade was qualified to represent shops and pubs etc, etc.  By the end Peter Hobbs, of the Chamber of Commerce, said he was tired and wanted the meeting drawn to a close.   Fifteen minutes later the session concluded.  So after 2.5 hours, we were no further forward.

The big disappointment was the unhelpfulness of the officers – Bob Porter and Fred Miller.  They didn’t answer a single question clearly, often diverted the subject.  They refused to divulge parking statistics.  They did admit, however, that there were NOT 300 free parking spaces in Folkestone – it was just something the council had claimed. They did not exist.

No one was able to put across their point of view.  Certainly I had no chance to mention cycling.  

Conclusion:  I have very little faith that the forum was set up by SDC to actually change anything.  We are window-dressing.  Further meetings of the forum are supposed to thrash out a set of proposals to be presented to SDC by June.  Nevertheless, despite the unpromising beginning, I will do my best to contribute to the debate and look at ways to promote cycling within Shepway.

 

SANDGATE’S REG TURNILL DIES AGED 97

The BBC’s aerospace correspondent from the start of the space age through to the shuttle era, Reg Turnill has died aged 97. He lived at Sandgate and was a kindly cycling supporter, pictured here at The Hub. He was still writing just eight weeks ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21430057

 Times Obituary:  Reginald Turnill

 

BACKING FOR CYCLEWAY FROM ADMIRABLE ADMIRAL

Cycle Shepway’s campaign to establish the Cinque Ports Cycleway from Folkestone to Dungeness has secured the backing of the Admiral Lord Boyce, Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports.  See his gracious and enthusiastic letter to Treasurer Alan Joyce:

Sara’s charity ride

PETER WALLACE: CHAIRMAN DESIGNATE

Cycle Shepway has a new chairman from June when David Taylor completes his two-year stint.  Peter Wallace comes at the right time as we step up our campaigning.  He’s proved a vigorous lobbyist elsewhere with an appetite for the fray.  His first task is to represent Cycle Shepway on the newly constituted Parking Forum.  Says David Taylor:  “New young blood and a thirst for action – that’s what we need”.

PETER WALLACE: CHAIRMAN DESIGNATE

 

SEAFRONT SIGNAGE UNVEILED

This is the multiple-use sign that Cycle Shepway plans to site at intervals along the seafront from Folkestone to Hythe.  Hopefully it will smooth relations between walkers, dog-owners and cyclists.  Designed by Cycle Shepway deputy chairman Joe Grey, the project is funding by Kent County Council via Councillors Tim Prater and Roland Tolputt. 

 

DRAFT REPORT ON CINQUE PORTES CYCLEWAY


To accompany our petition for a Folkestone-Dungeness Cycleway, Joe Grey, deputy chairman of Cycle Shepway, has prepared this draft report on the proposed route. Read it and view the maps.

 

Shepway Cycling Plan

This is the key document that sets out a five-year strategy for cycling in Shepway.  After protracted negotiations, it was adopted by The Joint Transportation Board of Kent County Council and Shepway District Council in 2011.  The task of Cycle Shepway is to hold the local authorities to the aims and objectives of the Plan.

But since they are largely aspirational, it is a difficult to force implementation.  Describing SDC’s cycling policy as “do-nothing”, Steve Fawke, chairman of Spokes, says:  “I think it’s campaign and press time for you guys in Shepway.  SDC’s elected representatives are very unlikely to start adding any colour to the very blank canvas that is Shepway without local encouragement.”

So we have our marching orders – or should that be cycling orders!  Read the Plan, absorb what our councillors have signed up to, and add your weight in the push for implementation – and much more, like the campaign for a top-grade cycleway from Folkestone to Dungeness.

DOWNLOAD THE SHEPWAY CYCLING PLAN

 

Obstacle ride to dungeness

By David Taylor

Imagine a family in Newham, host borough to Olympics and those inspiring cyclists, fancying a cycle day at the seaside.  Mum, Dad and two teenagers pedal to Stratford International and happily load their bikes onto the high-speed train for Folkestone Central.  Forty-five minutes later, having streaked across Kent and browsed Google Maps, they decide to head for the harbour and ride westwards to Dungeness.  Sunshine, seashore and wind in their faces.

First problem is lack of cycle signage to the harbour, just a crazy circuitous route for vehicles, a hangover from Folkestone’s ferry port days.  So, instinctively, they cycle downhill towards the viaduct and into Tontine Street, main drag to the harbour.  Problem two – it’s one-way and they have to push their bikes on the pavement.

Problem three is seafront confusion.  Signs for National Cycle Route 2 direct them into Lower Leas Coastal Park.  “But Dad”, cry the kids, “why can’t we cycle on the promenade like everyone else?”  Father decides to do things properly.  They turn into the park along NCR2.  Within seconds, another problem:  they must dismount as they encounter a play area where children dart between climbing equipment on either side of the path.

No sooner is the family riding again than vicious speed bumps, with no gaps for cycles, hamper progress.  Through the trees are tantalising glimpses of the sea but it’s lost as the cyclists are swallowed in Lower Sandgate Road, houses lining both sides of the street.  At Sandgate NCR2 joins the traffic-plagued high street, the A259 towards Hastings.  Dad’s had enough and cuts through to the seafront.

But, oh dear, elderly ladies “tut-tut” as the teenagers politely ring their bells.  “Cyclists have no right down here”, shouts an angry dog-walker.  Mum spots a sign for the Hub Cycle Shop and Café.  With no stands, they chain their bikes to a railing.  Inside, the friendly proprietors explain that the promenade is no such thing.  It’s a “seawall” on which Shepway District Council concedes right of way to neither pedestrian nor cyclist.

So what to do?  Just ignore the legalities, they’re advised.  Everyone else does.  Revitalised, they push on to where NCR2 joins the seafront on The Esplanade, bumping along the coggly tarmac dual-use path where cars are parked with two wheels on the pavement.

Beyond the Seabrook ice-cream kiosk, Dad, Mum and the kids finally spot what they’d expected – a broad promenade to Hythe with the occasional dual-use pedestrian/cyclist sign to reassure them.  Little do they realise, and nor does anyone else except a highways engineer at SDC, that cyclists may have no right here either.

Donkey’s years ago, the signs were placed by mistake.  Cyclists should be riding on the rough grass verge on the landward side of Princes Parade, the road alongside the promenade – a legality that has also escaped Sustrans, the admirable charity that manages the UK’s cycle routes.

Alas, it’s the same story all the way to Dungeness.  Spanking new stretches of seawall from the Hythe artillery ranges to Dymchurch and beyond are officially off limits to cyclists and pedestrians.   No designated cycle route or footpath exists along this glorious 20-mile coastline.  What should be the jewel in the crown of Shepway’s visitor appeal is a shambles of lost opportunity by those who administer it – Kent County Council, Shepway District Council, the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence.

In 2012 Cycle Shepway launched a campaign to establish a Folkestone to Dungeness Cycle Way.  It will be a long haul.  Agency will bicker with council and council with ministry and all of them with Cycle Shepway.  In petty concerns about liability and precedent, the bigger picture will be blurred.  But we shall keep focus.  For a start, we have the backing of MP Damian Collins who appreciates the great economic and tourist potential of such a route.

So what of the family?  Dad, Mum and the teenagers make it to Dungeness and back again to Folkestone.  But next time they visit Kent, they’ll plump for a friendlier stretch of coast like the Oyster Bay Trail from Whitstable to Reculver or the Viking Coastal Trail around the Isle of Thanet where routes are clear and maintained and cyclists feel welcome.

 

Watch a slideshow of the route to dungeness