Cycling England has given Devon County Council’s plans to transform itself into a “cycling county” a boost with a £2 million grant to help fund the promotion of cycling as a leisure activity and discover whether this gets more people to take to two wheels.
The new cash injection is additional to the £25 million that the county council pledged last month for extending existing cycling infrastructure and encouraging holidaymakers to visit Devon with their bicycles.
According to the Mid Devon Star, the latest grant, which comes from Cycling England’s Finding New Solutions project, will help the council develop cycling hubs across the county in places such as Barnstaple, Exeter, Exmouth and Tavistock, allowing access to cycle networks through a variety of modes of transport.
The money will also be used to monitor the effectiveness of those hubs in increasing levels of bicycle traffic, and in finding out what has given people the impetus to cycle in the first place, as well as improving infrastructure such as signage, bicycle parking and bike hire facilities.
Funding will also be made available for a study into how links to the national rail network can be improved to get more cyclists to take their bikes on trains. Funds will also be made available for a marketing campaign promoting leisure cycling facilities in the county.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, told the Mid Devon Star: “This is an ambitious project but we’re fortunate in Devon to already have hundreds of miles of family-friendly cycle trails.
“We already have a sizeable investment in place to improve cycle routes across Devon as part of our new cycling strategy, and this additional funding not only recognises what we have already achieved but will ensure we’re well placed to become a cycling county,” he added.
The county council is not just investing in leisure cycling either, and has confirmed that the Tour of Britain is due to return to Devon in 2010, following the success of it jointly hosting two stages of the Tour of Britain with neighbouring Somerset earlier this year. The South West will again host two stages of the race, with provisional dates of Thursday 16th and Friday 17th September.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.