Devon County Council is to invest £25 million as part of a new cycling strategy that will see new facilities unveiled alongside major improvements to existing infrastructure. It also aims to make the county a must-visit destination for those who enjoy taking their holidays on two wheels.
Devon was recently voted the leading county council in England for cycle routes and its network of local rights of way in the National Highways & Transport Public Satisfaction Survey.
Not content to rest on its laurels, the council is now working on a cycling strategy to cover the next 20 years, which will operate in conjunction with its Local Transport Plan.
Money will be provided for large-scale projects such as the Exe Estuary Trail, the Ruby Way and, in the east of the county, the Stop Line Way as the council seeks to build on its existing 1,000 kilometres of cycle routes.
It also plans to complete National Cycle Network coverage in the county to join up its 28 coastal and market towns, with new routes including ones from Sidmouth to Feniton and Buckfastleigh to Dartington. Cash will also be made available to fund Bikeability training.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Since becoming Cabinet member I have had the opportunity to see for myself the great strides that we have made here in Devon to get more people to take up cycling or get back on their bikes, and I am one of those people.”
Highlighting specific examples of the county’s success in implementing its strategy, he added “we know that we are seeing great results and not just in Exeter where 20% of children cycle to school. For instance, the Exe Estuary trail is not yet complete, and yet nearly 240,000 people used in the year to September. Just imagine what it will be like once it is completed.”
Demonstrating the importance the council places on cycling in helping it execute its overall strategy, Councillor Hughes said: “The benefits of cycling are immense and it has a direct impact on four of the priorities in our emerging Strategic Plan, including supporting local business and tourism and reducing congestion.”
“Devon’s economy is already reaping the benefits of the investment we have put into cycling and I know that the Exe Estuary Trail is already seeing those economic benefits through cycle hire, cafes and shops,” he added.
The council says that in the past three years, levels of cycling in Exeter have risen by 37% and that it aiming for similar success throughout the county.
It also underlined its commitment to bringing top-flight cycling events to the county, which this year hosted two stages of the Tour of Britain as well as the Exeter round of the Tour Series.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.