Last year, we contacted all of our members firstly to ask if you still wanted to remain as members, but also to ask for your feedback on what we do and your thoughts on what our priorities should be going forward. We are delighted to say that the vast majority of you decided to stick with us! So we would like to say thank you – your support means a lot to us!
We asked what you think we should be concentrating our time on. There was a good spread of responses, but your top choices were: lobbying the council for improved cycle facilities (19%); social bike rides (14%); opening up the Newbury to Didcot railway line (8%); and providing Bikeability training for kids. Some of you also suggested some other activities that weren’t on the original list, such as linking up with Dutch cycling groups to learn about best practice in the Netherlands.
We then asked how we should spend our / your money. Our main source of funding is the cycle counts that we undertake three times a year for West Berkshire Council, but we also get occasional donations. The most popular responses were: opening up the Newbury to Didcot railway line (24%); improvements to the Kennet & Avon towpath (18%); the A4 cycle route (13%); and cycle maintenance training (10%). Again, some people put forward some ideas for additional activities, including: a Spokes trip to the Netherlands; links to Harwell / Milton Park; and a cycle link across Greenham Common.
Finally, we asked what you could do to help. Spokes is a voluntary group and we rely on people being willing to give up their time to help us with our activities. The majority of people who responded to this question (38%) said that they would be willing to help with the cycle count. The next most popular responses was helping with cycle audits (13%). The rest of the responses were fairly evenly split across the other options.
We were really pleased with the responses – many people included messaged of thanks and general support, saying that while they didn’t have the time to help, they appreciated what we were doing, which is nice. The good thing is that many of our existing projects emerged as your top priorities. For example, we are in the process of putting the finishing touches to tour programme of social bike rides for 2018. Also, there has been good progress in reopening the section of the disused railway line between Hermitage and Hampstead Norreys, with land secured and route clearance work completed. Caroline has been overwhelmed with requests from local parents to teach their kid how to ride. We have been met with the Canal and River Trust to highlight the problems on the canal and are putting forward sites where urgent repairs are required, as well as highlighting priorities for future upgrades. Consultation has been undertaken on the first section of the A4 cycle route and contractors are now on site.
Cycle maintenance training is clearly something that we need to give more thought to. As a first step, we are sending some more people on Cytech courses so they can run Dr Bike events. We did a Dr Bike session last year in the market place, but not many people came along, so perhaps we need a different format and new ways of promoting the event. Unfortunately, our insurance currently limits us to making adjustments rather than carrying out repairs. We will give this some thought, but if anyone has any suggestions, then please do get in touch.
Once again, thank you for responding and for your continuing support – we couldn’t do this without you!