Cyclists in Bath and the surrounding area are being urged to get off their bikes and take part in a walk this Saturday to show their support for what could be a stunning piece of cycling infrastructure, the Two Tunnels Greenway project, which has reached a crucial point in the approval process.
Campaigners are also calling on those in favour of the scheme to write to one of the two councillors with whom the ultimate decision resides to ask him to recommend it.
In October 2008, Bath & North East Somerset Council confirmed its support for the £1.94 million project, which is jointly promoted by Sustrans and local campaigners the Two Tunnels Group.
The project, which Sustrans says has “overwhelming support from people in and around Bath,” aims to convert a four-mile section of a former railway line into a cycling and walking path that will link the city with Midford, and will include the renovation of a disused viaduct and open up two tunnels, one of which is over a mile in length, creating a link between town and country to enable everyday journeys to be carried out, whether by bike or on foot.
It is one of 79 schemes throughout the UK that will benefit from a total of £50 million of funding made possible by Sustrans’ Connect2 initiative winning the Big Lottery public vote in December 2007.
The council has now reviewed the business case and financial plan submitted by Sustrans as managers of the project, discussed in a report on the council website. That report recommends that the final decision-makers, Councillor Charles Gerrish, Cabinet Member for Council Services, and Councillor Malcolm Hanney, Cabinet Member for Resources,give the project the green light, subject to confirmation from Sustrans that the project meets certain grant conditions.
More than half the cost - £1 million – is being met by the Big Lottery fund, while Connect 2 Schools is providing some £222,240 plus £290,000 from other sources. The council itself is putting £400,000 towards the project, leaving £61,000 that will need to be found by Two Tunnels or Sustrans, and the latter has identified sources for that in its business case and funding plan.
Saturday’s four-mile walk along the proposed route begins at the north end of Linear Park near the Royal Oak pub on Lower Bristol Road at 10.00am and will end at around 1.15pm in Midford at the Hope & Anchor pub. There are buses back to Bath at just after the hour. It won't be possible to go through the tunnels on the day, so instead the walk will head over Combe Down.
Two Tunnels are also urging supporters of the scheme to write an email to Councillor Gerrish to express their support so that there can no doubt as to the extent of public backing for the project. Although you should use your own words, and the email needn’t be too long, it is suggested that you include details of where you live and how the Two Tunnels Greenway would make a difference to you, as well as including “Two Tunnels Project: Single Member Decision” in the subject line. His email address is Charles_Gerrish [at] Bathnes.Gov.UK?subject=Two Tunnels Project: Single Member Decision">Charles_Gerrish [at] Bathnes.Gov.UK and if you follow that link, we've completed the subject line for you.
A spokesperson for Sustrans told road.cc: "This project has had massive public support but, ironically, few people have actually been through the tunnels since they were closed to trains in the mid-60s. Saturday's walk provides a rare opportunity to view the tunnels and see their potential as a great cycling and walking link between Bath and Midford. We believe people really want this project to become a reality and hope for a massive turn-out this weekend to confirm our conviction."
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.