“Spalding is ready to become the cycling town of Britain.”
South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes has vowed to get on his bike with this message for the man who has taken over his former role as Minister of Transport.
Mr Hayes was praising Spalding Cycling Club and the Lincolnshire Free Press for its work in establishing a new event which he believed in future could put the town firmly on the map for cycling enthusiasts.
He told the second annual Spalding Cycling Forum: “I stood in the town centre on the second day of the Spalding Velo Prix and was overwhelmed by the excitement and enthusiasm even though it was a rainy day.
“The event was a triumph in promoting cycling in a fresh way.”
Spalding’s cycle action group Pedals hosted the meeting at the South Holland Centre on Friday, when members of the public were invited to hear from the county and district councils, Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, Sustrans, Spalding Cycling Club and Pedals itself.
The forum was again chaired by Mr Hayes, who since the last meeting had introduced the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy amendment in the Infrastructure Bill.
Mr Hayes said £700 million had been put aside by the Government for a series of cycling schemes involving the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Community Linking Places Fund and the Cycle Safety Fund.
He said: “I can appreciate that until now it seems the focus has been on the cities but there needs to be a plan for towns. Spalding is the perfect place to launch this.”
David Jones, chairman of Pedals, said the Government was making the right noises about cycling.
He said: “I know John Hayes is keen to see Spalding as the citadel of cycling in Lincolnshire and supports the measures we have asked for from Lincolnshire County Council, who claim their is no money, but that money sometimes appears suddenly and randomly, so we have proposals ready.
“The only visible sign of LCC activity for cyclists is the new build-out for cycle parking in front of the library in Victoria Street.
“On the subject of cycle storage at homes and places of work, I think South Holland District Council planners are more often asking for this, which is good.
“Our expectations for the next 12 months? – S106 money from Power Station Phase 2, the Woolram Wygate/Pinchbeck Road junction being made cycling friendly, progress with Coun Angela Newton’s admirable suggestion that a cycling-friendly bridge be build at the Eight Gates, and SHDC taking their responsibility for the Daffodil Route seriously.”
This year’s forum also focused on the health benefits of cycling and what more can be done to encourage more people to hop on their bikes for the good of their own health and the health of the environment generally.
There was a call for headteachers to promote riding to school and for facilities for cycling to be improved.
Denise Middlebrook, of the Road Safety Partnership, was present to support safer cycling after three cycling fatalities in Spalding in the past three years.
She said: “We are promoting the use of wearing helmets using the Ryan Smith Foundation and the story of a 17-year-old who was in a coma for four months after a cycling accident in Chapel St Leonards.”