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Local Spotlight: Cycle Winchester

Safer Cycling In Winchester.

 

I’m delighted to share another local spotlight with you. This time we are talking to the community group, Cycle Winchester. These like-minded individuals have come together to campaign for better and safer cycling in Winchester.

 

Given that over half of our daily trips are less than 3 miles (1), trying to include more walking, cycling or public transport could dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of travel. A study ranking different tactics for reducing car traffic in city centres showed that improving infrastructure for other forms of transport, such as providing more pavements and replacing parking bays with bike lanes, helped decrease car use by between 11-19% (2).  


About Cycle Winchester:


As a campaign group, Cycle Winchester have been active in local authority plans to change the infrastructure around Winchester to make it safer for cyclists. Recent improvements have included the addition of Advance Stop Lines for cyclists at the City Road and Jewry Street junctions. 


City Road Junction - © Cycle Winchester

They have also been contributing to further changes to central Winchester, including the one-way system and the redesign of Worthy Road. Mike Caldwell, who is active with the Cycling Charter, sums up the drive for safety and sustainability that lies behind these campaigns when he says, “I believe passionately in making Winchester a safer place for cycling for all ages and abilities and firmly advocate “active” travel to reduce the need for car transport, too.”


Cycle Winchester also organises regular events and meetings to discuss future plans for the city in a welcoming and open environment. The group is made up of volunteers who choose to give their time to share their knowledge of cycling, work with other voluntary groups, authorities and businesses. As Sue Coles, who is also an active member of Winchester CTC, says, “The great thing about Cycle Winchester is that it brings together an enthusiastic group of people, all of whom want to make Winchester better for cycling and for younger generations to be able to enjoy the freedom that cycling gives.”


Q and A with Emma Street:


I spoke with Emma, who is part of the organisation team and helps to manage the mass rides and social media for the group. We talked about aims for Cycle Winchester and what they would like Winchester’s future to be.


Q. How did Cycle Winchester begin and what was the inspiration behind creating a campaign group?


A. "Cycle Winchester was “born” almost six years ago following a well-attended meeting called ‘Taking Cycling Seriously’. This brought local groups such as Bespoke Biking, Winchester CTC, WinAcc and Friends of the Earth together to discuss ways to create a stronger voice for cycling in and around the city. Many of those who attended are still centrally involved in Cycle Winchester."


Q. What are the benefits of becoming a member of Cycle Winchester?


A. "You can become a member of Cycle Winchester for as little as £5/year. Joining helps support our activities and events such as our annual Mass Ride. We have partnered with a number of local providers to offer discounts off services for members such as local cycle repair and cafes. Full details here. 


You may also be interested in signing up to the Winchester Cycling Charter. This sets out a vision for what a cycle-friendly city might look like and the benefits it could bring to Winchester’s businesses, residents, employees and visitors. There are already hundreds of signatories including a certain eco-friendly refill shop! Find out more here."


Q. How would you like to see travel and movement in Winchester change in the years to come?


A. "Our mission is to make riding a (bi)cycle a natural choice in and around our beautiful city. Many short, regular journeys such as getting to and from school, workplaces and to access local services such as shops or healthcare can be made by (bi)cycle but there are often barriers. These might include busy, high traffic-roads, or a lack of infrastructure or cycle parking. Cycle Winchester works to improve provision for cyclists, for example by lobbying local decision-makers or providing practical advice such as local traffic route information."


Q. What campaigns and events can people be involved in, now and in the future?


A. "The pinnacle of the Cycle Winchester calendar is the annual ‘Mass Ride’. We’ve now held 7 rides which involve riders of all ages and abilities riding into the city centre in marshalled groups from a number of locations. The 2023 ride coincided with Winchester Green Week and saw 420 riders converge on the city centre to do a lap of the (infamously cycle-unfriendly) one way system. We then gathered at Abbey Gardens for what felt like a mini cycling festival! We had refreshments, cycle-themed kids’ activities, free Bike checks from Bespoke Biking and stalls from local cycle businesses and organisations, including WinAcc.


A real priority for us is to support more kids to cycle regularly. This is all about normalising riding a bike and embedding what we hope will be a life-long healthy and environmentally-friendly habit. We recently won a small grant from Winchester City Council (WCC) to buy kit to support ‘Bike Buses’ like the Twyford and Colden Common Cycle Bus. Bike Buses work like a rolling cycle lane by pairing up less experienced riders with experienced cyclists to create a safe and fun group riding experience. In the absence of (much-needed) cycle infrastructure, ‘Buses’ can make using a bike for regular journeys - such as going to and from school - a reality.


We’d love to see Cycle Buses all over Winchester District and encourage anyone interested in finding out about this, or any of our other activities, to get in touch via social media (@cyclewin) or email: hello@cyclewinchester.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you!"


Mass Bike Ride - © Cycle Winchester

Next up on the Cycle Winchester calendar is their Annual General Meeting, which will be taking place on Monday 5th February 2024 from 7:30pm at the South Downs Social in Kings Walk, Winchester. All are welcome to attend!


I want to say a big thank you to the volunteers at Cycle Winchester for helping write this article and for sharing information with me about the group. The work they’re doing to improve and inform movement in Winchester is fantastic. I’m pleased to support them and help spread the word!


Take care and happy cycling!

Katie

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