Cycling Demonstration towns

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Cycling Demonstration towns

As has been mentioned on Two Wheels and Beyond, the Cycling Demonstration towns' final reports are out. There have already been a couple of blog posts on this - one on Bristol and one on Chester - I wonder if we can collate reports on all of them from local or local-ish bloggers?

The towns are:


  • Aylesbury
  • Blackpool
  • Cambridge
  • Chester
  • Colchester
  • Darlington
  • Derby
  • Exeter
  • Greater Bristol
  • Lancaster
  • Leighton
  • Shrewsbury
  • Southend
  • Southport
  • Stoke on Trent
  • Woking
  • York

Anybody from, or know anyone from, any of these places? It would be really interesting to get a view from the ground, as it were

Scotland had its own Smarter Choices scheme - I live in Dumfries, which is one of them. I don't think the reports from that will be coming out for a while though.

Dr C.
Dr C.'s picture
There must be some people in Darlington and Cambridge at least. Can't say the scheme did much for Stoke, I cycled there in summer and it was one of the worst places for cycling I've ever been. Lancaster had some nice leisure cycling routes at least, there's a nice one which leads from the centre out to the middle of nowhere. After that though its national speed limit A road or back the way you came.

Digging up an old thread I know, but I'm from Southend, I can comment on this if you want.

Nuttycyclist has posts of this dating back to 2006, so I think the first Seafront stretch of cycle track was built as some other scheme related to Sustrans, it forms part of their NCN 16 route. Regardless, it's probably the most useful UK cycle facility I've seen. Turning into/from a sideroad is awkward, but at least it's a usable 2.1 mile (2.3 mile if you count this farce) traffic-free cycle route from Shoeburyness into the town centre... something I often do, though it ends just before the town centre... sigh. It is uncomfortably narrow, bidirectional and only 2.0m! But at least it has separation and parking is on the other side, no car doors to worry about. Other street furniture, such as railings and posts are uncomfortably close in places too.

In 2010 this was built, a cycle path extension to Chalkwell, part of the Cycling Town scheme. Yes, a bidirectional 2.0m cycle track with no separation from the road. Cars stop and open their doors onto it. Taxis drop off passengers at the casino onto it. (videos by Sqrooloose, not me).

The Cycling Town scheme did set up Cycle Southend, they're a good bunch. Their purpose is to help individuals start riding from A to B, suggesting Bikeability and so on. Also, they organise events such as cycling runs every so often. It's still funded by the council. I saw them at Shoebury fair, they had set up an obstacle course and were helping kids learn how to ride a bike. Gave me a smile.

Also as part of the Cycling Town scheme the Prittle Brook path was reengineered a bit and signposted as a shared pavement - it runs along a brook (stream) with 18 road crossings in 2.5 miles. There are no signalised crossings. It's a leisure route.

The "City Beach" "shared space" here was built at the same time, in collaberation with Cycling England apparently. The City Beach shared pavements still don't link up with the cycle track to the east, that just ends here and spits you into the road.

In 2010-2011 the Royal Artillery Way and Eastern Avenue cycle tracks, er, shared pavements got built, presumably with Cycle Town cash. Here. This junction is bad and it should feel bad, that's all I have to say about giving way to a super-busy primary route roundabout exit. It's a 2.5 metre wide bidirectional shared pavement along the whole length of the 50mph Royal Artillery Way dual carriageway, nicely separated though at least by a huge verge. So much space for good infra! The other end is OKish if you're fine with cycling on a busy two-lane roundabout (facepalm). As for the Eastern Avenue one, it's pointless. There's a perfectly good service road for the houses one could cycle on, though it ends and goes nowhere, but so does the shared pavement. It's a toucan crossing and shared pavement for no reason.

Here's a door zone cycle lane built at that time. This road (further on) also has detector-triggered traffic lights that seem to not pick up bikes, so that's fun. Being a dual carriageway, cars can't move out to overtake if you're trying to avoid the door zone.

Next to a secondary school this shared pavement was built next to a super-busy 40 mph road. Should kids be cycling here of all places? Railings. Meh.

Here's some ASLs painted in 2010. Here's some more. And some more. How about a cycle feeder lane and ASL at the bus station, squeezed between buses waiting at the red light and buses waiting to pull out of the bus stops? If that's quite your cup of tea, here's an ASL with cycle feeder lane next to a left turn lane, that also manages to be right in the door zone. Could this ASL, part of the "Better Southend" improvement works of 2011/12, be the biggest you've ever seen?

Speaking of Better Southend, this roundabout was upgraded to a signalised spiral turbo-roundabout, with a cycle facility!

I don't know when this was built. It doesn't connect to anything at all.

There's a contraflow cycle lane to the left of this bollard.

Sandy shared beach path thing. Only useful for MTBs, the surface is full of loose stones!

Another shared pavement, probably good for getting left hooks.

For stunt riders: jump over the parked cars! This is part of some blue signposted routes for cyclists between the seafront, university and town centre and so on like here.

There was cycle parking built around schools, the council, high street and some shopping streets, like here.  Nothing here or here or here though.

Mostly a lot of British style "infra" we would expect got built. Nowhere near good enough. To reiterate, the best (goodish) cycle track wasn't part of the Cycle Town scheme. We had hardly any cheap and effective methods put in (20mph limits, filtered permeability, contraflow cycle lanes). Cycle parking and encouraging schools to train their kids to cycle is welcome, that's about it.

Cycle Southend say cycling increased 17% in the first three years of their existence.


Although I don't live there any more, I still occasionally work in Darlington and blogged about the cycling demonstration town completion report a while ago.

From my perspective as someone who knows the town well, and used to cycle there, it seems to have been a massive damp squib.

Log in or register to post comments