Pedal Power report: Cycle routes must form part of new St Helens highway plans (From St Helens Star)
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Pedal Power report: Cycle routes must form part of new St Helens highway plans
CYCLE routes should be included in any new road and highway plans across the borough to boost the number of people using bikes, say senior councillors.
It is one of a number of recommendations being put forward by cabinet members following a review of cycling in the town for the Pedal Power campaign.
A study by a scrutiny panel examined how cycle friendly St Helens is and included a trip to Southport, which is classed as a cycle demonstration town.
They found that St Helens’ “road infrastructure does not lend itself to being a complete cycle town” but said current plans are helping.
In response an action plan which should be achieved by 2015 was approved by cabinet members.
Among the plans are that, from this month, cycling is considered from the outset of any new road networks rather than an “afterthought”.
Off-road cycle routes should also be considered where appropriate.
Other plans include making adapted bikes accessible to people with disabilities and older people, particularly given the ageing population.
Transport teams are to lead on more bike training events and cycle levels will be monitored annually.
A network of hubs to promote cycling, such as the new base at Bold Miners Neighbourhood Centre, has been rolled out as ‘Pedal St Helens’.
It joins existing facilities at Fourways Children’s Centre and Sankey Valley Heritage Visitor Centre.
They provide a starting point for free organised bike rides and a central point for cycle skills and maintenance training.
The success of British cyclists in the Olympics, including the triumphs of Newton-based gold medallist Ed Clancy, and in the Tour De France, is one reason why cycling is more popular.
But its value for money – when compared to the costs of running or car or using public transport – is also regarded as an attraction.
Paul Stead, owner of Thatto Cycles, offered his backing to the council’s Pedal St Helens.
He said: “We are very much in the [Pedal St Helens] programme. The previous schemes have always worked well and a lot of people have taken to it.
“Over the past couple of years our sales have grown dramatically. The biggest thing contributing to this is the improvement in health people can get from cycling.
“Also, with transport being so expensive now, it’s a cheaper way to travel, as well as being green and healthy.”
In 2012 St Helens Council was awarded a share of £27 million of funding from three sources which was awarded to Merseyside councils and Merseyside.
The strategy was to improve links to areas of economic growth – by public transport, walkway and cycling routes – and to cut carbon emissions.
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