Sustrans has announced details of a day of festivities on Saturday 6 April to celebrate the opening of the Two Tunnels Greenway in Bath, with revellers able to walk or ride the new route for free, or pay from £5 to take part in a family ride. However, Sustrans has come under some criticism for selling a package starting at a minimum donation of £175 for individuals that allows them to be among the first to ride through what it bills as “Britain’s longest Cycling Tunnel.”
From comments on the event’s Facebook page, it appears that some people are under the misconception that the £175 minimum donation for individuals applies to anyone attending the event. That’s not in fact the case. The vast majority will be there free, or will make a donation of £5 for individuals and £10 for families to take part in a 13-mile ‘Fresh Air Miles’ ride.
The more expensive package, as the Bristol-based sustainable transport charity pointed out to road.cc, reflects a chance for its keenest supporters to help it raise funds while also enjoying what it says is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A minimum donation is required of £175 for individuals, £220 for couples and £300 for families.
Certainly the new route has been long anticipated by the cycling community in Bath and the surrounding area, and people haven’t been afraid to dip into their pockets to help it become a reality – you can read more about the background in this article from road.cc editor, Tony.
A spokesperson for the charity told road.cc: “Sustrans is delighted to be opening Britain’s longest cycling tunnel on this iconic route.
“There will be a day of fun activities at the free festival, as well as a 13-mile ride for a small donation, so no-one need miss out on trying out this groundbreaking new route.
“As part of our celebration we’ve created a unique once-in-a lifetime experience for our supporters and local people keen to go through the tunnel first.
“Buying a ticket is a way of donating to Sustrans’ vital work creating and maintaining the National Cycle Network.”
That £175 package, which runs from 10am to 12.30pm, also includes a guided tour of the tunnels, a Champagne breakfast and a framed limited edition Two Tunnels print by Eliza Southwood.
The Fresh Air Miles at ride, which costs £5 for individuals and £10 for families, is one of two options besides that exclusive First Through The Tunnels ride, and comprises a 13-mile scenic loop that takes in both the Combe Down and Devonshire tunnels as well as the Tucking Mill Viaduct, with entertainment promised on the way. That takes place from 12.30pm-4pm.
The other option is to attend the festival at Bloomfield Open Space, which runs from 11am to 4pm, for free and to have access to the new route from 12.30pm.
Of the new route itself, Sustrans says:
The brand new Two Tunnels Greenway is a flat or low-gradient traffic-free path from the old Green Park Station in the centre of Bath, out towards Twerton and then round the south side of Bath through two old railway tunnels, across a viaduct and on to Monkton Combe, ultimately connecting with the Colliers Way through Midford and Radstock to Frome.
Of the two tunnels one, the Devonshire tunnel, is a quarter of a mile in length; the other, the Combe Down tunnel, is just over a mile in length and passes right under the mass of Combe Down. When opened it will be Britain's longest cycling tunnel.
Places on the First Through The Tunnel and Fresh Air Miles rides can be booked through the Sustrans website.
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.