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Locals claim Olympic legacy path improvement will bring in "thousands" of cyclists

County council says new surface will improve year-round access

Some local residents are concerned that if an Olympic legacy project is carried out to improve a path to the 2012 mountain biking venue at Hadleigh Farm, cyclists might actually use it.

Essex County Council plans to close Piggery Lane, which enters the Salvation Army-owned park from the north-east, on Monday for five days while the path is widened and resurfaced.

Widening the path to 2.5m — from its current 2m — and hardening the surface will make it easier for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs to use, and prevent it from turning into a quagmire after rain.

But according to the Echo, residents are worried that more cyclists will use the improved path.

David Hurrell, 59, told the paper: “This pathway is historic. It’s beautiful.

“Dog walkers love it. It’s a haven for wildlife and billowing with wildlife.

“They’re putting a surface down that will be ideal for mountain bikers.

“Changing it will appeal to the cyclist and, to all intents and purposes, it will become a main road for anyone coming from the Southend side. They will come down Castle Lane and Piggery Lane.

“This will become a main thoroughfare for the thousand of cyclists Essex County Council said will use this site. I’m keen on wildlife and I’m very keen our community is not shafted.”

But the county council says the path is sometimes impassable for months at a time because of bad weather, and trees and shrubs next to the path will not be removed.

Hadleigh Farm residents prepare for an onslaught of cyclists (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licensed by Howard Russel/Flickr)

Mountain biker Pete Shrimplin, 48, from Eastwood, said: “It’s a great thing for cyclists. The works at Hadleigh are fantastic for the area and will put Hadleigh on the map.

“The path is great for everyone. It’s not just for hardcore mountain cyclists.

“It’s shared space for walkers, the leisure cyclist and children.

“If it means more cyclists, that can only be good.”

A county council spokesman said: “Residents have been consulted on all aspects of the redevelopment, including Piggery Lane.

“Piggery Lane is a key trail which will now allow easy access for pedestrians, cyclists, people with push chairs, wheelchair users and those with mobility issues.

“The only visual changes will be an improved surface and wider path to accommodate an increase in visitors.

“These minor changes will make the path more accessible, safer and will ensure visitors are able to use it all year round.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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