What a response!
Last month’s cycling article brought forth such an avalanche of ideas that within a few days 9 people were engaged in a pretty lively online discussion, and one thing became clear very quickly. We’re interested in improved access for everyone, pedestrians, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, pushchairs... so what can we do? Well, maybe make a suggestion on Street Space County Durham, DCC’s consultation on what needs to be done now to ensure space for physical distancing.
Go to https://streetspacecountydurham.commonplace.is/ and have your say or agree/disagree with other people’s ideas.
The first time you comment you have to answer a number of questions but that is a one off. After that it recognises your email address. So far, suggestions include widening paths and reducing speed limits. There’s also an option to say if the change should be permanent so, is there a dropped kerb which would make wheeled access easier?
What do you think about reducing the speed limit in Sedgefield?
Would you like more pedestrian crossings and if so, where?
Go to Street Space and make your voice heard.
But it isn’t all about waiting for others to do things. An offer on Facebook has seen bikes being given a new lease of life, and when lockdown eases, we hope to include a bike repair stall at the Farmers Market. There’s also a feeling that travel to school initiatives, local taxi service, even car free events in the village are all within our control. It’s just a case of going for it. Of course we are all road users, so perhaps a good starting point is to be aware of our own behaviour and be considerate.
Our email address is at the foot of this page. Jo & Mark (Your Letters) have told us what they think. You can too!
Thanks to Jane Spink for use of her painting
Why I joined the discussion about cycling and walking routes.
I would not call myself a cyclist, in fact I am very nervous on a bike. When we go for family outings Dad leads the way, our two boys follow, and no one can tell I am putting on a brave face. There are so many great places to explore locally, yet we take the bikes by car to safe parks and trails away from traffic. This goes against our hopes to reduce our car use and enjoy our environment.
My boys go to Sedgefield Hardwick and because we live in Bradbury there is no public transport, so this means a twice daily car trip to do the school-run. The areas around both schools have a huge number of cars and our children are rightly being taught sustainable values, to walk, cycle, and use public transport where possible. But for us, and others living in the villages around Sedgefield, it is not currently an option.
Before lock-down I would get requests from the kids “to come to school on our bike so we can save the environment”. A few small modifications might make all the difference – over-grown paths cleared, safer places to cross, or a way on to existing paths around the roundabouts. How might we make it easier for bikes, wheelchairs, and pushchairs to enjoy our local area? The council is inviting suggestions, so now is time to share your thoughts about the routes around and in Sedgefield.
Although my husband and 9-year old try to cycle along the A689 to get to Hardwick Park the road is currently far too dangerous in places. We dream of a safer route to Sedgefield and might then be able to make cycling to school and work part of our new routine. We could even walk home after enjoying a night out with friends supporting local establishments too!
A commuter’s lockdown
I have lived in Sedgefield for 14 years and been a cyclist since my teens, so I consider myself to be relatively confident on the road, but during lockdown I have greatly enjoyed the quieter roads. I have commuted by bike far more than before, and my half hour ride to our school in Billingham has been a fantastic way to arrive at work feeling good, and a great way to unwind after a busy day. I am healthier for having been able to get some exercise, and even the hill at Wynyard Hall has been if not easier, a little more manageable! I’ve also saved a small fortune in petrol.
I really think we have an opportunity at present to make a great start in changing to a more sustainable, cheaper, more enjoyable and healthier way of getting around, particularly in a little village like ours. Other than for commuting to work, most of the journeys we make are very local and can easily be made by walking or by bikes, and I would love for more people to be able to use these modes of transport for getting around the village.
I would also love for people to be able to connect up our communities to the other facilities nearby – the other villages nearby could be linked together by good paths and cycle ways, and then we could look at how to link up to the National Cycleway and the larger towns of Stockton and Billingham. Of course, the people of these communities could also cycle to visit Sedgefield, bringing in much needed business.
It would be really wonderful to engage with other people who would like to get into more active travel. The range of bikes is huge, including e-bikes that make things easier if you need a hand; there is something for everyone. It may seem a scary idea to swap the car for the bike for some of our journeys, but the worst part is taking that first step.