Sustrans calls for Ashford volunteers

Keen cyclists sought to help boost riding in Kent town

by Tony Farrelly   October 30, 2008  

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Sustrans is looking for volunteers in the Ashford area of Kent to help improve the town's growing network of traffic-free routes, as part of a new scheme to encourage townspeople onto their bikes.

Katie Aartse-Tuyn, Sustrans Volunteer Officer, said: “The new Ashford group of volunteer Rangers will be vital to help monitor local routes, maintain signing and assist with various other tasks from cutting back brambles to removing graffiti.

“There are more than 2,500 volunteer Sustrans Rangers around the UK, all helping local people to choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. It’s sociable and fun, gets you away from the TV and only takes from an hour or so each week.

Kent County Council and Ashford’s Future are working in partnership to improve Ashford’s already extensive cycling and walking routes by joining up missing links and establishing new links to upcoming development. They are also working on a travel plan for Ashford Railway Station to help passengers get to and from the station more easily without having to rely on their cars.

Stephen Bourner, Ashford’s Future’s Sustainable Transport Officer, who is also a Sustrans Ranger, said: “Cycling levels are good in Ashford but we know from street surveys we have undertaken that there are concerns, particularly over safety, that prevent people from getting on their bikes. Hopefully by improving and joining up routes, as well as developing brand new traffic-free routes, we can make cycling a safer and more attractive option. Cycling is obviously healthier and more environmentally friendly but it can also be more convenient and quicker too, especially during rush hour.”

The recruitment call coincides with an open consultation event on November 14 for a new Cycling and Walking Strategy being developed by Kent County Council and Ashford’s Future. The Cycling and Walking Strategy will be launched in early 2009 once a wide range of views have been taken. 

The Cycle Strategy Consultation event will take place at Charter House, Park Street, Ashford, on November 14 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. For more information on becoming a Ranger go to the event at Charter House, visit www.sustrans.org.uk and click on ‘support Sustrans’ or call Katie Aartse-Tuyn on 0117 9150110.