Suffolk’s Year of Cycling

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In Suffolk’s year of cycling, you have to feel sorry for Councillor Graham Newman, the Transport portfolio holder at Suffolk County Council; not just because he had rain and a head wind in his cycle ride from Stowmarket to The Apex in Bury to set the scene for the launch of Suffolk’s Year of Cycling, but also because only the day before it was announced that the Government were committing £8 million for cycle lanes in Norwich, and Cllr Newman could not offer much more than “encouragement” for pupils and parents to ride their bikes more.

It didn’t help that Labour councillor Sandy Martin, who had been one of the other 6 to cycle from Stowmarket, was in a grumpy mood. “After over 16 miles, it would have been “nice” to have been welcomed and given a warming cup of coffee, rather than have to first pose for loads of photos, and then just be told ‘the refreshments are over there'”. His considered view was that the County Council would achieve much more if they put as much effort into doing things as they did into producing documents.

Steve Harradine of Outspoken Training saw things differently. His organisation is providing training at primary schools in Bury and believes that the key factor is support for cycling from the local councils and Suffolk’s Year of Cycling was a first and should be welcomed. This view was shared by Rowan Wilson, the regional supervisor for Sustrans – the organisation which is celebrating 20 years of the national cycle network, for which they have been largely responsible.

Councillor Newman explained that the county council would be promoting the different cycling activities taking place across the county in 2015-16 as part of Suffolk’s Year of Cycling and hope that this would encourage more to get on their bikes and enjoy some of the wonderful quiet lanes that are so good for cycling. Headteachers of the Bury primaries were present, each with 3 of their pupils. Once children want to ride their bikes, their parents will often go with them. In the words of one enthusiastic youngster from Sebert Wood Primary “some children don’t realise just how much fun cycling is.”

This was echoed by Tony Fuller, who has been cycling since 1958, first with the West Suffolk Wheelers, although he admits that he now finds it harder to keep up. He now rides more often with the Bury branch of the CTC (the Cyclists Touring Club) who go out every other Tuesday and Sunday, and he reckons to ride around 100 miles a week, though this figure is naturally less in the winter months.

 

You can read more about the Suffolk Year of Cycling programme online.

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