Essex County Council and its partners on the Colchester Cycling Town project have handed over to Cycling England, based at London Bridge, their detailed plan to boost cycling, which will be implemented over the next three years.
If approved, the strategy will see millions of pounds of investment and the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and experts devoted to improving the take up of cycling among residents and visitors in Colchester.
The strategy, which will see £2.1 million of government investment match-funded by Essex County Council (totalling £4.2 million) being invested in cycling in Colchester over the next three years, focuses improvements into four main themes; Infrastructure, Education and Promotion, Communication and Partnerships and Planning and Monitoring.
The strategy aims to increase the number of cyclists cycling regularly by at least 75%, and also increase the number of residents who cycle to work and school. It will do this by working with individual businesses and schools and using them as examples for other organisations to learn from.
Work on infrastructure improvements will see the establishment of new and improved cycle routes, concentrating on enabling residents and visitors to get to and from the town centre, the rail stations and new development and growth areas.
There are also plans for new signing, contra-flow cycle facilities, improved cycle crossings of busy roads, rivers and railways and improved parking facilities.
On education and promotion one of the most exciting initiatives is the introduction of Bikeability (the new national standard for cycle training) across a whole town for the first time in Essex. By working with Cycling England Colchester also hopes to introduce a Schools Cycling Champion, to promote and encourage cycling at schools and colleges. Further to these initiatives, there will be Workplace Travel Plans implemented, leisure rides and events for families,and bike hire schemes for visitors and tourists.
The third part of the strategy deals with communication and partnerships, finding new ways to engage people and provide opportunities to cycle. It will include working closely with partners such as CTC, the Borough Council, University of Essex, schools, colleges, Sustrans, Network Rail, National Express East Anglia, cycle shops, health organisations and those other organisations that form part of the Colchester 2020 Local Strategic Partnership and have signed up to the Colchester Cycling Town project.
The final part of the project will deal with planning and monitoring, by looking at ways of working towards the future, in the case of new developments in the rapidly expanding town, and working out exactly how successful the Cycling Town project has been.
Councillor Norman Hume, Chairman of Colchester Cycling Town and Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation at Essex County Council, said: “The presentation of this strategy to Cycling England represents the culmination of years of hard work by both the Council and our many partners.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to take up cycling. It is not only fun but can also help to reduce unnecessary congestion on our roads, improve fitness and reduce pollution.
“I hope that these achievements in Colchester will act as a blueprint for other towns in Essex and throughout the UK and inspire more people to use their bikes.
“We were extremely pleased that keen cyclist Councillor Paul Smith was available to join us to present the strategy on behalf of Colchester Borough Council.”
Essex County Council Cycling Champion, Phil Baker, said: ”I was delighted to go to London with my bike on the train and then cycle across London to deliver the Colchester Cycling Town Strategy to Cycling England.
“It is really important to me to encourage as many people as possible across Essex to take up cycling and what we are doing in Colchester will act as a beacon showing what cycling can really do for all of us”.
Councillor Lyn Barton, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration at Colchester Borough Council, said: “Through this strategy all the partners including Colchester Borough Council have set out how we will improve opportunities for cycling in Colchester.
“We are focusing our efforts on some key areas including upgrading routes, developing safer cycling training and promotion. In terms of our work on the Borough’s routes the first area we will be looking at is Highwoods where the existing routes will be upgraded improving access to the town centre, the railway station and Colchester Business Park and the Community Stadium.”
The full Delivery Strategy can be viewed at the Essex County Council website at www.essex.gov.uk (This can be found in the Travelling and then Cycling section).