The initial three years of Aylesbury’s Cycling Town programme focused on using ‘soft measures’ such as route signing and promotions to encourage people to get on their bikes. The team has expanded, named and coloured eight main cycle routes after gemstones to make them easily identifiable to the public (the Gemstone Cycleways), and pioneered a radical new approach to signage, obtaining Department for Transport permission to count down to destinations in minutes rather than miles. A town-wide promotional campaign, including a local radio partnership with a jingle and route-specific guides, was also launched to spur residents to action.
Following renewed funding in 2008, Aylesbury prioritised infrastructure measures and improvements. All Gemstone routes have had red surfacing installed on side road junctions to help ensure motorists look out for cyclists, and more signs have been put up to direct cyclists to the town centre. This has improved access for major employment centres and has been supported by the installation of additional cycle parking spaces.
The newest Gemstone Cycleway, the Jet Way, was completed in April 2009, providing a direct link from the town centre to Stoke Mandeville hospital. At the same time the Bourg Walk, a new 200 metre long shared use pedestrian/cycle bridge, was opened - providing easy access across the railway line, connecting the south side of Aylesbury to the town centre and linking the existing Pebble, Emerald and new Jet Way routes.
Aylesbury has benefited from a number of improvements to make it easier for people cycling to access the town centre. An element of this work is the introduction of a contraflow cycle lane (due to be complete by April 2010). A close working relationship with the District Council has continued to ensure that cycling provision is an automatic consideration for all proposed housing developments.
To reflect all of the infrastructure improvements, the existing Gemstone route maps have had a facelift and a new Jet Way map has also been produced. Aylesbury has continued to support all infrastructure developments through promotional activity, most recently through the appointment of a promotions officer and a targeted advertising campaign encouraging commuters to cycle to work using the Gemstone Cycleways network.
Cycle Aylesbury works with 15 local businesses to promote cycling – accessing 11,000 employees. These workplaces can take advantage of a pool of 20 loan bikes, Dr Bike sessions, and cycle parking grants. The team also runs an annual ‘Business Bike Challenge’ – an inter-workplace competition between teams participating in the Tour de Vale bike ride. This has proven to be a good way of finding people who are enthusiastic about cycling, whom Cycle Aylesbury can then work with to promote cycling to these workplaces.
As well as encouraging commuters onto their bikes, the team continues to promote family cycling - where children and parents learn together - and cycling in local schools, working alongside the Bike It Officer. Events to support this have included Dr Bike sessions and activities for Bike to School Week, for example ‘Recycle a Bike Day’ where unwanted bikes were repaired and donated to schools for their pupils to learn to cycle. Over 100 people swapped bikes, giving many children the chance to get hold of better fitting bikes, and there are plans to repeat this activity at other schools in 2010.
Bike Week 2009 was celebrated with the annual Tour De Vale cycle ride, daily bike breakfasts at schools and businesses, a joint ride with neighbouring Cycle Town, Leighton Linslade, and the ‘on 2 wheels’ town centre event which promoted cycling.
Infrastructure improvements will continue to be the focus in 2010, with plans to install raised crossings on the Pebble and Ruby Ways - aimed at giving cyclists a degree of priority; extensions to the Emerald Way; and the introduction of the ninth Gemstone route, the Topaz Way. These improvements will bring about further advantages for people choosing to cycle in Aylesbury, and ensure that more residents have access to a dedicated cycle route.
These infrastructure improvements will be supported by continued investment in targeted marketing activity. This will include tailored events, business and family cycle training and the launch of the bicycle project in April 2010 - a personalised cycle planning scheme providing expert advice, training, equipment and incentives aimed at all age groups to increase the numbers of people cycling in the town.
Visit www.cycleaylesbury.co.uk for more information