Wheels turning fast with more to come in NK cycling strategy

Paul Burrows - Sleaford Wheelers Cycling Club. EMN-190401-113755001
Paul Burrows - Sleaford Wheelers Cycling Club. EMN-190401-113755001

A new cycling strategy adopted by North Kesteven is already seeing significant progress to get people greener and fitter, with much more to come in the next year.

North Kesteven District Council’s Executive Board met before Christmas to hear an update on the first six months of the project, which enshrines a vision to ‘inspire everyone to cycle’.

It promotes the benefits of cycling for health and the environment, aiming to increase the number of people cycling in the district by improving cycling infrastructure, route information and safety as well as bidding for external funding.

The drive draws input from departments such as Leisure and Cultural Services, Housing, Planning and Economic Development.

The authority has already developed a dedicated Cycle NK area on its website giving road safety advice for adults and children, listing existing cycle routes and suggesting local cycling clubs and suppliers.

In his report, chief executive Ian Fytche said they have been working with Active Lincolnshire to develop a cycling and walking application which will provide digital mapping of routes. The Sport England funded Go Explore Lincolnshire app will become a ‘go to’ place for residents to gain free access to routes and information. The council has uploaded 16 of its Stepping Out walking routes already and the Cycle NK version will soon have up to 20 routes available which can be downloaded too.

Ninety-six pupils from 12 North Kesteven primary schools joined in a cycling festival in October with British Cycling and Carre’s Community Sport Outreach to raise awareness with the chance to join Sleaford Wheelers cycling club.

There was also a safer cycling event with cubs and scouts and further promotion at Heckington Show and the Lincoln Grand Prix cycle race.

The Cycling Strategy is also being used to add in planning requirements for cycling infrastructure in new developmments such as the urban extensions to Sleaford and will form part of detailed designs for the Holdingham Roundabout and A153 improvements to take account of cyclists, the report says.

Over the next 12 months, Mr Fytche says they aim to use Sport England funding to create an afterschool club for secondary school children to get them active, promote safer cycling and be a feeder club to clubs such as Sleaford Wheelers.

Another community cycling project will be aimed at parents and toddlers and another scheme will develop specialised cycling opportunities for people with dementia.

A volunteer-led cycling scheme similar to NK Social Strollers walking programme is also being considered and more ‘Get Cycling’ events in school holidays are being planned.

Mr Fytche’s report adds: “We aim to promote and deliver our first Family Cycle Ride in 2019. Initially the Water Railway (which runs alongside the River Witham) has been highlighted as a suitable location however further research will be done.”

Mr Fytche adds that these aspirations are heavily reliant on working with partners such as Active Lincolnshire and the council’s sport and leisure contractors, as well as availability of funding.