Picturesque and compact, with a popular riverside traffic-free route and some fairly flat terrain, Shrewsbury’s cycling levels are already well above the national average. The Cycling Town programme aims to significantly increase overall cycling levels by 2011, making cycling an attractive day-to-day travel option for more residents. Almost two thirds of commuter journeys are less than five kilometres. However, the centre of town has a one-way system and some moderate hills, while the Shrewsbury bypass makes cycling into or out of the town difficult.
Shrewsbury’s strategy is to create a positive cycling culture, enabling and motivating more people to cycle, and encouraging those who currently cycle to do so more often. The area covered by the project includes Shrewsbury Town, Bayston Hill and the rural area within approximately five kilometres of the town. Shrewsbury has been designated as a growth point, and a new single authority, Shropshire Council, was established in April 2009.
Infrastructure development is a key element of the Shrewsbury Cycling Town programme, including the expansion of the cycle network by over a third with 15 kilometres of new routes - providing links to workplaces, schools and through the town centre. The programme’s supporters include Shrewsbury Town Football Club, the Shrewsbury School Sports Partnership, and two local train companies - Wrexham and Shropshire railway, and Arriva Trains Wales.
Headway has been made on a number of infrastructure projects, including the construction of a major scheme on Telford Way, the main river crossing to the north of the town centre. This scheme has provided new cycle tracks, footways and a toucan crossing. Other infrastructure works in the first year included design work for cycle links to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and resurfacing of a well-used pedestrian and cycle bridge in north Shrewsbury. The existing network has been reviewed, signage needs identified, and locations for new crossings prioritised.
Shrewsbury also benefits from the Sustrans Connect2 programme, which is funding major infrastructure improvements in the town centre, completing the traffic-free riverside path through the town. Sections of the scheme in north Shrewsbury have been completed, including a new traffic-free path to Greenfields School, and a link provided by Barratts Homes as part of a new housing development. Work in the town centre is expected to start in spring 2010.
Cycle parking facilities have been installed at four secondary and seven primary schools, as well as the town’s large special school. A full-time Bike It officer started work in September 2009 and 12 of the town’s 17 primary schools have joined the Bike It programme, with a busy programme of events planned for 2010. Cycle training has been extended to Bikeability Level 3 and adult cycle training is also offered.
Cycle Shrewsbury has developed a new website, www.cycleshrewsbury.co.uk, and launched its membership scheme, which is free and open to anyone. Members of Cycle Shrewsbury sign up via the website and receive a discount card to use in local bike shops, plus access to member-only competitions and regular newsletters and progress updates.
Another major part of the Cycle Shrewsbury programme involves engaging with workplaces. The team currently works with 12 employers, reaching nearly 5,000 employees. At the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital - the largest single-site employer in the town - 100 new bike parking spaces were installed early in 2010 for staff and visitors. Existing cycle shelters will also be refurbished, with the help of a grant from Cycle Shrewsbury.
The team has created a workplace pack available to employers interested in increasing cycling levels. This includes advice and practical help such as a cycle survey template. The team also offers grants to employers who need to improve their infrastructure.
www.cycleshrewsbury.co.uk for more information.