West Berks Cycle Forum (December 2017)

The main topic of discussion was the Kennet & Avon towpath, particularly the sections west of Newbury and east of Colthrop, which Spokes has flagged as being in need of complete reconstruction in order to make them safe for cyclists. Mark Evans had been invited from the Canal and River Trust, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it due to an emergency call-out. However, Cllr Steve Ardagh-Walter managed to set up a separate meeting with him on 9 January. In the meantime, Spokes members will carry out an audit of the canal towpath to document the issues in more detail. We will be looking to get a commitment to add these sections to their maintenance programme as soon as possible and also to change their maintenance inspections to better take account of the needs of cyclists. We realise that funding may be an issue, so we are already looking at different options.

We were delighted to be told that following the recent public consultation, West Berks Councillors has agreed to progress the first section of National Cycle Network Route 422 in Newbury between Faraday Road and the Wyevale roundabout. This will see on and off-road provision for cyclists with new sections of route as well as improvements to existing sections.

Spokes gave a presentation on cycle wayfinding based on the results of an audit of cycle routes between Newbury town centre and the top end of Faraday Road. This had identified numerous issues, including a lack of consistency between on-street signs, on-line cycling journey planners, and the printed version of the Council’s cycle map. We also found that cycling information was completely missing from the finger-posts and monolith maps in the town centre, with several conflicting or missing signs adding to the confusion. Some of the issues have arisen as a result of individual schemes being introduced over a number of years with no holistic review of signage. Fortunately, many of these issues can be picked up as part of the NCN 422 scheme.

The minutes for the December meeting of the Cycle Forum (and minutes of previous meetings) can be found on the About Us section of the Spokes website.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Dr Bike – Free Bike Checks in Newbury on 28 October

two people fixing bikes

Are your brakes making funny noises? Are your gears a bit clunky and don’t change when you want to? Do you wish you could mend a puncture? Then bring your bike to Newbury Town Hall between 9.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday 28 October and we’ll check it over, make adjustments and teach you how to maintain your bike.

While most of us recognise the need to keep our cars maintained in order to keep them running efficiently and pass their MOTs, we are often not so good about keeping on top of our bike maintenance. We are always spotting people out on bikes that have a variety of maintenance issues from minor niggles to more serious problems that could be putting their safety at risk.

Thankfully, bikes (with a few notable exceptions) are fairly simple machines and the most common maintenance tasks can easily be carried out with a minimum of tools. Our Cytech accredited cycle mechanics will be available to show you how to check your bikes for faults, make adjustments where required and advise on any repairs that needs to be carried out.

Remember that all Spokes members get 10% off parts at several local bike shops, so if you do need any repairs, then you can be sure of getting good value for money while supporting a local business.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A4 Cycle Route (Phase 1) Consultation

West Berkshire Council is in the process of developing plans for a new cycle route along the A4 from Newbury all the way to the district boundary in Calcot. This will form part of the new National Cycle Network Route 422, which will link Newbury and Thatcham to Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell and Ascot. The scheme has received funding through the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and will be one of the biggest cycling schemes in the county since NCN Route 4.

Given the length of the scheme, it will be rolled out in phases. The Council has just gone out to consultation on phase one. This will see improvements on London Road and Benham Hill, from the junction with Faraday Road right up to the Wye Vale Garden Centre roundabout.

The scheme will create safe space for cyclists on the road and will include the following changes:

  • cycle lanes on both sides of road where width allows
  • making better use of available road space by removing hatching and right turn lanes where it is appropriate to do so
  • removing traffic islands to get rid of ‘pinch points’ for cyclists
  • installing advanced stop lines at signalised junctions
  • new dropped kerbs to help cyclists get on and off the route

There will also be improvements to off-carriageway facilities. This recognises the fact that not all cyclists have the confidence to mix with traffic and there are areas where accessibility is currently restricted for those in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and with pushchairs.

The following improvements are proposed:

  • widening and resurfacing sections of pavement, and converting them to shared paths
  • giving cyclists priority across the entrance to the B&Q / Dunelm Mill retail park
  • removing unnecessary road signs, and relocating street furniture
  • creating wider pedestrian islands to improve crossing points for all users

It is also proposed to introduce new double yellow lines, in areas where there is a problem with cars parking and blocking footways. There will be separate consultations to follow for these restrictions as they require Traffic Regulation Orders.

You can send your comments or objections to this proposal to the Highways Project Team, no later than 22 October 2017.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Social bike rides for 2017

We have been busy over the winter months putting together our programme of led bike rides for 2017. Our fun, friendly, social rides take place on the first and third Saturdays of each month from March through to October. Led by volunteers, our rides take in some of the most beautiful scenery in West Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

The routes on the first Saturday of each month are shorter (11 to 17 miles) and we tend to go at a gentle pace of 9-11 mph. As such, they are ideal for new / returning cyclists, or people who just want a more relaxed ride.

If you would like a longer, more challenging ride, then take a look at the second of our rides each month.  These have routes ranging from 27 to 38 miles and we generally go at a slightly faster pace of around 12-14 mph. These are intended for more regular riders who are reasonably fit and don’t mind a bit of the hilly stuff.  If you want a real challenge, then why not sign up for ‘William’s Big Wheel’ – a 57 mile epic into deepest, darkest Hampshire.

All rides start and finish in West Mills, Newbury. We meet by the war memorial between Lloyds bank and St Nicholas’ Church. Our start time is usually 9.30 am, with the exception of ‘William’s Big Wheel’ which sets off at 9 am sharp.

We try to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time on our rides. For example, hills can be taken at your own pace and we don’t rush off once the last person reaches the summit. Unfortunately, punctures can and do happen, so we ask all riders to bring a spare inner tube. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to change a tyre – we can help / advise as necessary.

Please note that places are limited to 12 people on each ride, so we do ask that you book your place in advance at letsride.co.uk to avoid disappointment. It also helps us to know who to expect so we don’t set off without you. Also, any under 16s must be accompanied by an adult who is able to take responsibility for them.

If you want any further information about our rides, then please do get in touch. We look forward to seeing you and hope you enjoy the rides!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Dr Bike Comes to Newbury

two people fixing bikes

Just like cars, bikes need regular maintenance in order to keep them running smoothly and keep you safe. However, often people neglect their bikes and only give them some attention when something breaks, or starts making a noise.

Regular maintenance checks can help identify issues as they arise and allow you to carry out timely adjustments or preventative maintenance. This can extend the life of your components and save you money in the long run. Fortunately, most bikes are relatively simple to work on and only require a few basic tools to undertake the most common maintenance tasks.

Spokes has a number of volunteers who have all taken the Cytech Home Mechanics Course and are therefore qualified to make adjustments to bikes and deliver a basic level of tuition to others about routine maintenance. In addition, we have years of experience of tinkering with bikes and even building them from scratch!

So if you have a bike that has squeaky brakes, slipping gears or just want to know how to change a tyre, then bring it down to Newbury Market on Saturday 27 August between 10am and 2pm where our experts will be on hand to carry out checks, make adjustments, or show you how to undertake maintenance checks and carry out basic repairs. The best part is that it is FREE!

If your bike does need new parts, then don’t forget that Spokes members get 10% discount at Banjo Cycles, Bikelux and Specialized Concept Store.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail