I've long been a fan of well planned and built cycle routes. So I was pleased to see that Buckinghamshire County Council was building a cycle route from our village of Chalfont St Giles to the leisure centre and community college in the next village of Chalfont St Peter.
I cycled the route yesterday with our 22 month old toddler Owen in his seat on the back of my Raleigh Randonneur touring bike. It was an enjoyable ride on the smooth new path - a contrast with the horribly potholed road alongside. It makes a change for a cycle path to be quicker than the main road in shadows!
But sadly the project has some flaws. Oddly, it starts some distance along Narcot Lane, which means that anyone starting at the St Giles end has to use the road, or break the law by cycling on the pavement - despite the ample width available. The route was officially opened 10 days ago, according to the Bucks Free Press, but the two road crossings are unmarked and incomplete. Just as seriously, there are no signs to explain that this is a shared footpath and cycle route. My parents-in-law, who live on the route, report that one of their neighbours was roundly abused by a cyclist for daring to set foot on the path with her dog, impeding his progress. A simple sign would have put this foul mouthed fool in his place. Finally, as the photo above shows, part of the old pavement was too narrow to convert into a cycle route. It would have been sensible for the council to narrow the road at this point to calm traffic as it enters Chalfont St Giles, which would have given room for the cycle route. Instead, cyclists are currently forced to negotiate a strip of concrete barely a foot in width, as a utility company has dug up the pavement.
But these are niggles. The government should invest heavily in such facilities, despite the coming cuts. Encouraging cycling will pay ample dividends in future years in a healthier nation and less crowded roads.