Pedal Press Winter 2003/04





All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor


Muesli-Eater writes from Liverpool

In the Sticks

Gateacre is getting linked up with the rest of civilisation by means of a new junction scheme at the Rose Brow/Gateacre Brow junction. Work is well advanced on a mini roundabout, cycle lanes and cycle bypasses to make the junction less hostile. Further down, the entrance to the new Morrisons on Besford Road has been designed with cyclists in mind - give it a go next time you need a can of beans.

Tramspotting

The August Cycle Forum discussed the proposed Merseytram Mark 2 ( Mark 1 got turned down). There is a commitment to make the scheme cycle-friendly, consultation etc. Colin Langdon is to do a fact-finding visit to Strasbourg , as the Merseytram is to be modelled on their system.

Trainspotting

I had the good fortune to jump on one of the refurbished Merseyrail trains the other day. Very nice but where was the much vaunted cycle storage? I eventually tracked it down, its in the end carriage , but not where it used to be. I have suggested to Merseytravel that they should put bike stickers on the outside of the train (like other rail companies do) , and they have “passed it on”, whatever that means.

Back in 1995 when they were taking seats out to make space for prams & wheelchairs, MCC offered to pay for bike stickers, but were rather sniffily told it “would not be appropriate”…..

Crown Street

Is anybody out there being caused a problem by cars parked in the cycle lanes? If so let me know.

Soap box

Merseyside aims to spend £1.5 million (2.5 million Euros) on cycling in the year 2003-2004. Liverpool has about 1/3 of the population of Merseyside , so we should be aiming to spend £1/2 million.

Actually no, our capital programme (assuming the city doesn’t “top-slice” it like last year) is only £269,000.

£80,000 is going on the Gateacre/Belle Vale area cycling routes., £25,000 on cycle parking stands, £30,000 on the Cycle Show & Marketing. That’s fine, but….a staggering £125,000 is going on fees, for design of future schemes, consultation, & publicity.

£20,000 is to be spent on Design Fees for Vauxhall Road improvements. Vauxhall Road is a bottomless pit as far as cash goes. Every year improvements appear in the budget but sort of disappear as time goes by. How much design work do we need in order to drop a few kerbs?

Fair Cop

When in the City Centre keep an eye out for the Police bike squad. They look just like ordinary cyclists except they have cycling helmets & high- viz jackets with Police on the backs. That’s good , because Liverpool City Councils Cycling Strategy (1997) says:
“Bicycles are rarely used for policing in Liverpool, unlike in other parts of Merseyside. While this would be impractical in some parts of the city, the experience of cycles in other forces suggests that they can have a role to play in policing. This would also have a beneficial effect on the credibility of cycling as a serious form of transport.” - not to mention keeping police officers fit!

Official Secrets

I almost choked on my nuts when I read that the Government’s English Regions Cycling Development Team scores for each local authority were going to remain unpublished. What have the authorities got to hide, other than their embarrassment?

But why worry? Secrets are made to be leaked, rumour has it that Wirral scored 12 out of 50.

Any Deep Throats out there in Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley & St Helens Councils should get in touch with the editor to spill the beans.

Traffic Jams

Visiting Central London over the half-term, I was astonished to see motor traffic going faster than cyclists & pedestrians. I hope they don’t introduce congestion charging here, one of cyclings’ great pleasures is belting down Edge Lane at the rush hour past huge queues of traffic, feeling disgustingly smug.

Car Free Day

In true cycling fashion, Car Free Day was held on the wettest, coldest day of September, which was a pity because of the tremendous efforts put in by Sarah Dewar & Cathy McNulty to organise the event. It was a major achievement to close Castle St & Cook St on a weekday for the whole day, too bad the weather kept a lot of people away.

An excellent breakfast was provided by Bluebells Café on Cook St for participants of the Sefton Park to town ride (not the limp continental type offering which we’ve had in the past, this was your hot-blooded cyclist breakfast, plenty of bacon, eggs, black pud, beans, beans, mountains of toast & gallons of tea). After that the most photogenic among us were photographed by the Echo riding up Cook St.

A class from Beaufort Park Primary School in Dingle visited and I am told they thoroughly enjoyed the displays.

Too Much Guinness?

David Grantham sends me a cutting from the Irish Independent. It seems that Car Free Day in Dublin was celebrated by not closing roads & opening a 23million Euro road bridge which caused 5 mile tailbacks. The day was branded a disaster, not surprisingly.

Our Hibernian neighbours (having proved that road building makes thing worse) have apparently decided to pour another 700million Euro down the Liffey by constructing a series of sphaghetti junctions at, among other locations, the aptly named Mad Cow Roundabout.

Back at home the Local Transport Plan follows suit by supporting the construction of another Runcorn Road Bridge in order to shovel more traffic into south Liverpool.

Marketing News

The National Cycling Strategy Board is linking with the cycle industry and the Department for Transport to launch a major £1m marketing initiative to get more people to cycle.

As part of this, the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders will be introducing a Cycle Industry Fund with effect from 1st October 2003 with the aim of providing £350,000 pa towards the encouragement of cycling, particularly among young people. There will be a special focus on cycling safely to school.

It’s nice to know that the cycle industry are supporting cycling, but I can’t help feeling they would do a lot more for cycling if they stopped palming off rubbishy products on an unsuspecting & gullible public. What other sector of the transport industry would sell as standard machines with tyres that puncture on the first outing, have no integral lighting system, and are often grossly overweight?

Richard Hebden

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Sefton Section

Route update

The Knowsley Road part of the Knowsley Road / Linacre Lane scheme is complete bar the realignment of a couple of grids but the Linacre Lane section will have to wait as its funding has been reassigned. It is still proposed to complete this route but the plans may have to gather a little more dust on the shelves of Technical Services. The Fairways to the Plough section of the Marine Drive route in Southport will be completed this year but the section running parallel to the Marine Lake where there is less space may have to wait for more enlightened times.

Politicians vote with their feet

Councillor Burke again failed to chair the recent Cycle Forum held in Maghull. This appears to be reflective of the lack of political support in Sefton for cycling. Perhaps there are perceived to be no votes in cycling compared to other modes of transport? Reading the local press Sefton’s politicians may have discovered that cycling on pavements is the most complained about act of lawlessness committed on the streets of Sefton. There seems to be a feeling that something needs to be done ‘about them’ rather than ‘for them’! And so cycling is not to be allowed in the future pedestrianisation of the Chapel Street area of Southport. This is in spite of research from the Transport Research Laboratory which has shown that, when properly designed, integration of cycling in pedestrian areas can be of overall benefit. Apparently there was insufficient demand for such facilities and it’s ‘demand’ that takes priority over ‘need’ in such situations. A lesson for the future……..

Switch Watch

Sefton Council’s proposals for the Switch Island to Thornton corridor have been published and the preferred option is for a link between Switch Island and the Northern Perimeter Road and for a bypass with a roundabout at Brickwall Lane and another at the junction of Park View and Southport Road in Thornton. It is not clear how this will solve traffic congestion in the medium term as there is little provision for more sustainable transport. The only hope appears to be if Lydiate Lane is closed to private motorised through-traffic. I believe there is a need for this solution but whether there is a demand is yet to be discovered.

Future Forum

The next Sefton Cycle Forum is to be held at Bootle Town Hall on Thursday 4th March 2004 at 6.30pm. Everyone’s welcome - no matter how demanding you are!

Peter Roome

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Wirral News

To be updated shortly

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St Helens and Knowsley News

There is no news from these areas in this edition. If you have any news for the next edition please send it to PedalPress

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Wayfarer , West to East. MTB or 4WD?

I was unaware of Wayfarer until I saw an article in the CTC journal two or three years ago. To those who do not know, The Wayfarer is a pass over The Berwyns in North Wales from Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog via Nant Rhyd Wilym and over the top at Pen Bwlch Llandrillo (2000ft) then down into the Dee Valley north of Llandrillo.

It got its name from an article written by cyclist journalist Walter McGregor Robinson (nicknamed Wayfarer) who described the crossing with two friends in the winter of 1919.

I chose to cross in the spring (April) of 2003 when the weather was settled fine and sunny, but with a strong westerly wind. I intended to start at Chirk,(train from Southport to Chester then on to Chirk) cross wayfarer then return by Corwen to Llangollen using the"back" road and if still able get the train home from Chirk or Ruabon, a round journey distance of about 45 miles. Because of the westerly gale I chose instead to go to Llangollen via Worlds End , stay in the YHA then via the back road to Corwen and tackle the Wayfarer from the west with the gale force wind behind me. I was glad I chose this way over the pass ,but I had to suffer from Chester to Hope , Cefy-y-bed and Minera against the gale then the gradients to the top of Worlds End.

What bike to use, the article in the CTC Journal said the Wayfarer had been crossed on a tandem though a mountain bike would be more suitable, so after much thought I chose my Raleigh Max MBike, which though heavy was robust and had those very low gears that enable you to climb any gradient----wrong!

After too much breakfast at the hostel I suffered the back road to Corwen, only about eleven miles, but I arrived in Corwen in a poor state(smashed really). I realised the Worlds End crossing had taken all I had plus the big breakfast had weighed heavy, so I was in no condition to tackle four hours of pass crossing , steep gradients ,and poor surfaces. What to do? at lunch time it was too early to go into another B&B and recover, I did not want to retrace my steps to Llangollen, there is no train service from Corwen to anywhere! If in doubt "eat" so I found a cafe ,ordered tea and a large slice of Syrup Tart. The tart was about 10" diameter about 1/2 thick and I had 1/4 of it, which took some getting through.

Stuffed but not feeling any better I set off for the Wayfarer because that is what I had come to do. The Dee Valley Road is pleasant but not flat and in about four miles I came to the point of no return and turned left uphill on a narrow tarmac lane. I soon found out my bottom gear wasn't low enough and started walking, pushing the bike. Still! I can freewheel down the other side cant I. If I knew this would be after 2 1/2 hrs of riding/walking I may have turned back.

The track is good in parts and ridable with gates giving a reason to stop for a breather, indeed there were many occasions when I resorted to walking for one minute,then resting for one minute so steep was the gradient. It took 2 1/2 hrs to reach the top where there is a memorial to Wayfarer with a book you can sign. All this is maintained by the Rough Stuff Fellowship.

As this was on a Wednesday I saw no one on the way up, or on the way down . I signed the book and started my freewheeling down.

Not for long though, as the track was very very churned up by 4wds to a depth of 12/18" by 15" wide at a guess, too dangerous to ride down. Later stages were more like a river of brick sized rocks, unridable to me, so it was try and ride on the edges, or walk. As the weather had been very dry there was not much mud although there was one section where old railway sleepers had been laid to form a path over a bog. These were very broken at the start and finish, by the 4wds no doubt.

So there was not much freewheeling until once more I came to the Tarmac, when it was into top gear all the way down to the West Arms Pub in L.D. CERIOG for a well earned tea and biscuits. Time to decend 1 1/2 hrs, making a total crossing time of 4hrs, with a tail wind!

For the finish it was a downhill ride to Chirk at 18mph average just missing the Chester train by 5 min,s. I arrived home at Ainsdale at 9.00pm feeling good!

Miles done:
Chester to Llangollen 31
Llangollen-Corwen-Wayfarer- Chirk 39
Total 70 miles.

Surprisingly I began to feel better nearing the top and the syrup tart realy kicked in. After that, however, I recomend that if you do the Wayfarer you do it with company and you take a mobile phone. I was on my own and saw no one for four hours on a rough track, not a good idea. And they say wisdom comes with age!

Ron O'Nions

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A New Regional Trail for the North West

The North West Coastal Forum is proposing the development of a regional coastal trail running along the north west coast from Chester to Carlisle. It will be a multi use trail, suitable for walking ,cycling and horse riding.

A feasability study has given the concept a "green light".

What's the purpose of the trail?. The trail will provide a new regional recreation and tourism resource.

We have 1000km of diverse and beautiful coastline to explore and it is felt there should be more emphasis on this as a tourist attraction as well as providing a outlet for the residents of the area to walk, cycle or ride for leisure or trips to work or school. This will also promote the economic benefits to the area by acting as a showcase for our coastal landscapes,towns and villages and historical heritage.

In our immediate area we have an existing trail from Chester to Shotton which would link to the Wirral Way and coastal route to the ferry and Liverpool.
From the Pier Head to Crosby Promenade would require a link and improvements to Southport using the Sefton Coatal Path? and Trans Pennine Trail, and the proposed extension along the new sea wall and coastal road to the Plough Hotel.
From the Plough to Preston is currently being discussed by Lancashire CC, Sustrans etc and would include a bridge over the River Douglas, probably at the site of the old rail bridge at Becconsall. For cyclists it is proposed to use existing "quiet" lanes where possible to link these sections, eventually leading to traffic free trails as the route develops so the disabled will have access.

Beyond Preston the trail would continue round the Fylde crossing the Wyre at Fleetwood with an improved ferry service, and continue North using existing trails and new links.

The next steps. The North West Coastal Trail Steering Group, will continue to meet and oversee trail development until a trail management structure is established.

The North West Regional Assembly and the North West Coastal Forum are jointly funding the development of an Implementation Framework for the Coastal Trail.

See www.nwcoastalforum.co.uk for more details.

The completion date is currently 2006 which must be optimistic! However, with the Mersey Waterfront Regional Park and the Capital of Culture now in progress there is lots of money about so I expect to see progress, in the Merseyside area at least, or is my optimism getting the better of me again?

Don Thompson

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Life as a Tour Leader

To misquote a famous film, “Being a CTC tour leader is a bit like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get”.

Standing outside the Caberfeidh Hotel on 23 July, as the bus from Edinburgh arrived, was my first indication of how true this saying is. Not many people would consider signing up for a CTC end-to-end tour (the hilly route) without a bike. Sarah, our American, did just that. She borrowed a bike and performed excellently through Scotland until her knees gave out in Edinburgh. A brave attempt and sad loss, but a wise decision considering what followed.

At the other end of the equipment scale was Roger. He had everything a bike shop could possibly sell. His new Ortlieb, along with normal stuff, panniers contained a bike workshop, digital camera and laptop computer while his handlebars held a very sophisticated GPS navigation system. With this he informed us, (and the world via the internet) on our progress. Feet ascended, average speed, gradients, even the phases of the moon were all logged. (see his story at www.lewishamcyclists.org/endtoend.asp. What it didn’t help with was getting up the hills. This was not helped by Roger’s liking for ordering 2 starters with every meal, quaffing gallons of Lucozade sport and carrying a 2kg cable lock. It took him some time but heroically he made it all the way without ever walking.

Ian, on the other hand, looked the part. A lean tanned Scotsman in his 50’s, carrying 2 miniature panniers on a lightweight racing bike. We were later to learn that in his youth, he had raced professionally on the continent.
“Neil” says Ian, staring straight at me in the hostel dorm, “I just want to make one thing very clear from the start”
“Yes” I said reaching for the complaint forms.
“I don’t take any sugar in my tea in the morning!”

A great comedian and a brilliant cyclist, but absolutely no navigational sense whatsoever. He would get bored, whiz off the front, then be found catching up after a long detour. He was proud to have completed the trip without ever looking at a map or finding his reading glasses.

It was a group with a great range of ages and abilities, but most worrying to me was Jill. Her bike was one to make any bike fan wince. A mass produced ladies shopper of a past era. Steel rims, caliper brakes, rubber pedals and a rubbing mudguard.

“I would’nay ride tha’ thing tae the shoaps” says Ian.
Jill in her plimsolls and helmet, perched on the back of her head, was blissfully unaware of any problems, declaring it to be a very good bike. Thinking of great cyclists such as Dervla Murphy and Anne Mustoe with similar mechanical knowledge I decided to say nothing.

By the first day Jill had shown her independent streak by taking a different route to everyone else. When I explained I couldn’t support her if she took her own route she looked thoughtful and went off to study her maps. I saw little of Jill through Scotland and would ask anxiously at the hostel if anyone had seen her. Oh yes, they said she arrived first!

As the hills got steeper, Jill would set off earlier, giving a cheery wave to the others still eating breakfast. In the Dales I got a message from her to say she would not be at our remote farmhouse hostel as she had opted to take the flatter main roads. The wisdom of this only became apparent the next day. While the rest of us struggled over mountainous passes arriving exhausted into Haworth hostel after 10pm. Jill was there smiling, showered and well fed having arrived at 4pm. The next day we were even later. Our front party saw her taillights but never caught her.
“She must be on bloody guid drugs” muttered Ian.

By the time we reached Lands Ends she was waiting having met up with her family and cheered everyone in. Some of us only just made it in time to catch the photographer before he went home. To award this achievement I made sure the final photo included Jill’s bike.

So that was our trip. I’m not sure if it is an experience any of our party would want to repeat, but it sure was memorable. An eclectic mix of people from very different backgrounds thrown together for two exhausting weeks, taking us all to the edges of our endurance. As tour leader it was a huge relief to have all the party safe at the end with no major incidents. Each person had their own reasons for doing the trip and each fought their own demons. If life is really a box of chocolates then I am happy to try another box.

Neil Kay


Photo Opportunity

Knowlsey Road Route Of couse you should always avoid riding in the gutter but here's even more reason to ride away from the kerb. This grid is on the new Knowsley Road cycle route in Sefton. Obviously something went wrong in the quality checking of this route. It's been reported and should be realigned soon - till then watch out!

If you have any interesting, amusing or informative photos please send them to Peter Roome peter_roome@bigfoot.com

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Dates for your diary to be updated soon

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All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent in MS Word by email or disc to the Editor

© Merseyside Cycling Campaign 2003