Wiltshire Publications

Time for action as cyclists ‘take their life in their hands’

LOCAL cyclists have called for safe cycle routes around town, saying they have to take their life in their hands every time they get on their bikes.

In a letter to White Horse News, cyclist John Bennett suggests that building dedicated cycle routes from Westbury to Warminster and Trowbridge and safer routes around Westbury would have huge benefits for the town.

And other local cyclists have backed the call with one saying that road incidents are “reaching epidemic proportions.”

“I would urge local councillors to look into improving the facilities for cycling and walking in the area,” said John, a Westbury Leigh resident, cyclist, and member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

“Currently, cyclists have to take their lives in their hands when venturing the four mile journey between Westbury and Warminster, and pedestrians have no link whatsoever.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate the huge demand for a route between the two towns, nor how many health and community benefits could be generated by the extra cycle traffic.

“A route to Warminster would not only link the towns but would enable Westbury residents to access the beautiful Wylye Valley, an extremely popular route for recreational cyclists. It would also of course link Westbury with the national cycle routes and bring tourists to the beautiful scenery in and around the town.

“Given the extremely flat terrain between Westbury and Trowbridge, demand for cycling or walking routes between the two would potentially be even more popular than a route to Warminster.

“From Yarnbrook to Trowbridge there are piecemeal sections of cycle infrastructure which it should be possible to join up with a little willpower and local funding.”

John argues that there is ample space beside the A350 either side of Westbury for a cycle path to be built, and that it would bring both tourism and health benefits to people in the area. His letter can be read in full on page 17.

Members of Westbury Wheelers road cycling club were keen to support the idea.

Gary Treherne said, “I have been cycling around Westbury for 20 years; it is a lot busier now and motorists are far less tolerant. I’m sure any proposal for a cycle path would get a unanimous ‘yes’  because it is becoming harder by the day to enjoy your ride without being abused by motorists. A separate path would drastically reduce the number of road-rage incidents, which is reaching epidemic proportions.

“It would also allow youngsters to get out on their bikes with their parents, which could have long term health benefits.”

Another member of the club, Allen Laker, cycles on the roads for work.

Allen said, “A cycle path/footpath on the A350 is a superb idea and is long overdue. There is ample room for such a path sufficient for two-way cycle/pedestrian traffic.

“I am a postman and my round is on the main road which does get a little scary at times as lorries thunder by.

“I’ve lived in Dilton Marsh since 2003 and have seen an increase in heavy lorries, particularly foreign, using these roads. There are many people that commute to work along these roads on a daily basis risking life and limb.

“Cycling is becoming more and more popular, and I also know people who would like to cycle but are afraid to, because of the proximity of passing vehicles.”

A survey released last November by Sports Marketing Surveys showed that just under 17% of British adults are now cyclists – around 8,700,000 people.

Sustrans, a charity that builds cycle networks across the country, also recently published an article revealing that cycle tourism contributes £650million to the national economy every year.

Sustrans currently has  major routes running through Frome, Warminster, Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon, but although one includes Dilton Marsh, none pass through Westbury. As a result cyclists are largely confined to using busy public roads.

Wiltshire Council has worked on promoting walking and cycling, and there are dedicated cycleways across the county but Westbury cyclists are saying that much still needs to be done.

For more information about local routes go to www.wiltshire.gov.uk.

To find out more about the work of Sustrans and explore its national and regional cycle path network go to www.sustrans.org.uk.