Monday, 20 March 2017

Introducing the Bideford Cycling Campaign

Bideford has great potential to be a cycling town, with the main centre connected to East-the-Water, Northam, Westward Ho! and Appledore already via a network of paths, quiet roads and main roads, there is plenty of scope to incorporate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in environments where everyone feels safe using their respective transport mode of choice.

Currently the streets of the town are dominated by motor vehicles, and there are frequently queues and slow moving traffic at busy times on the Long Bridge and the Quay particularly, making it frustrating for those in their cars, as well as unappealing for anyone considering cycling. The current dedicated cycling provision in Bideford is threadbare to say the least, and is most concentrated within and around Victoria Park. As anyone who has been there will know, within the park it is generally pedestrian footpaths which should not really be considered as cycle tracks.

Cycling can become a popular and common choice for day to day transport only when it is an easy and obvious choice allowing people to get where they need to go just as easily as by any other form of transport. For this to happen, the cycling infrastructure needs to form a complete network to allow easy, convenient and safe cycling across the town.
In this respect Bideford has plenty of room for improvement, and that is why a more focused section of the North Devon Cycling Forum has been created to try and bring about improvements to allow residents of Bideford to take advantage of the benefits that can come about from everyday cycling.

The Bideford blog can be found at and you can get involved by coming to a Bideford Sustainability Group meeting on the first Tuesday of each month at the Blacksmith Arms in East-the-Water at 7:30pm.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Welcome to the North Devon Cycling Forum

Welcome to the website of the North Devon Cycling Forum, the space where we try to build bridges between those who cycle and/or would like to cycle on their daily journeys and those responsible for our infrastructure arrangements.

We are running various campaigns in the area, which are all listed below. We are in need of people willing to bring these campaigns closer to the general public and our councillors. Please share our Facebook page or any of the pages on this website with anybody you know. If you can spare some time to do more than that, we'd love to hear from you

If you want to get a cycle path from Braunton to Saunton Sands get on your bike on Saturday 18 June! A joined bike ride starts at 9.30 from Caen Car Park in Braunton. The ride heads for Saunton Sands, where a meeting starts from 10 am at Saunton Break Cafe; open to all!


Devon County Council is currently proposing two projects in Barnstaple. There are plans for a new walking and cycling bridge over the River Taw between the new Anchorwood development and the town centre to provide an alternative for Barnstaple Long bridge. The other big one is a new walking and cycling bridge over the Western Bypass, connecting the Iron Bridge/Rock Park to the Lake area, with future connections into Roundswell via the proposed Larkbear Estate. Both are high-profile high-cost projects. The forum naturally supports both projects, but regrets that DCC is currently not able to implement much smaller, inexpensive schemes. 

Areas such as PiltonRaleighDerbyChanters Hill and Forches are currently all poorly connected to the town centre. Cycling has its largest potential on journeys of three miles or less. With our Barnstaple Case Study we show how all these areas could be properly connected to the Town Centre and which each other for around £800.000, just by building short missing links and introducing more 20 mph zones. Our report of 64 pages fully explains our proposals, which is available on-line. A summary sheet is shown below:
Part of the study is highlighting minor issues with current cycling infrastructure, such as poor maintenance (overgrowing bushes), barriers which are difficult to pass and places where you have to wait very long to get a green light at a toucan crossing. These can all be found in the study, but are also shown on the summary sheet below:

The list above is also available in Excel-spreadsheet format, accompanied by pictures in a compressed Zip-folder. If you are in a position that you can do something about these minor issues, please be in touch.

The Barnstaple Case Study also explains the shortcomings on the Fremington-Bickington-Roundswell-Sticklepath-Town Centre corridor. The lack of a continuous cycle route, connecting through all these areas is a major cause of all daily congestion on this route and in/around the town centre. There is simply no alternative to the car for many people who live in these areas. It a matter of sorting the missing links to get cycling in this area truly going, see the action sheet below:

Further, there are various new developments proposed in and around Barnstaple. Proposals to connect these new areas to existing infrastructure are largely based on driving, with very poor options for cycling and walking. A good example is the proposed Mount Sandford development. Below an action sheet showing what is proposed and what should be done:

The Barnstaple Case Study and the action sheets as shown above were created as part of a joined consultation by locals Toby Andrews, James Baldaro, Simon Bell, Dawn Connor, Mike Harrison, Simon Harvey, Mark Holbourn, Eric van der Horst, Ricky Knight, Pete Leaver, Mark Rice, Michelle Taborn, Rob Veale and Lee Wardle. The action sheets are availabe in JPEG and PDF-formats. Please be in touch if you want to receive copies and are in a position to campaign and/or to take things further.


Following our successful meeting in Bideford in 2015, hosted by the Bideford Sustainability Group, the North Devon Cycling Forum has now a group of six Bideford cyclists of varied experience who are looking to suggest improvements to the cycling infrastructure in and around the town.  

This group’s first meeting was convened by Angus Winfield our representative in Bideford at the workshop premises of Tom Blease, which just happened to be centrally located for the majority of the team. Tom’s outfit is known as  Blease Cycle-Tech and is at the back of his home at 62 Lime Grove (07967 820236 if you ever need his expertise when in Bideford). These sessions are organised largely by Tony Ross, another member of the Bideford team. Tony is Youth Coordinator for the Wheelers and is responsible for not just these training sessions but also the race fixtures.

Three other members of the team are Dave Hewis, the only one from the East-the-Water side,  Jon Berry and thirdly Rob Sharrock. Jon Berry and his wife run ‘Bikehigher’ in Stibb Cross, a few miles out of town. Their business hires out electric-assisted bikes, largely to tourists. Rob Sharrock, like Angus Winfield is a member of the Bideford Sustainability Group. Rob Sharrock has penned a letter introducing the group to all the various councils they will have to work with.  The group has its own letterhead for this Bideford Section and has begun the process of informing the authorities of the sort of improvements they think will be possible. It is now perhaps a case of ‘Watch this space’ !

1. The first focus of the Bideford group is the travel corridor between Westward Ho/Northam.Appledore and Bideford. Devon County Council has recently upgraded the footpath alongside Heywood Road to a shared path, connecting the Heywood roundabout on the Link Road and the turn off to Appledore in Northam. This is a great start, but now, this route needs extending into Northam and on to Appledore on the northern end and truly into Bideford on the southern end. Angus Winfield has generated a Power Point presentation of this route, please get in touch via email to receive this file.

The forum is also thinking about the following routes:

2a. Bideford Quay/Morrisons - Bideford College via Bridgeland St or Chingswell St/North Rd/Lime Grove/Belvoir Rd/Abbotsham Rd (mostly by creating 20 mph zones and allowing two-way traffic for cyclists on Chingswell St).
2b. Bideford College-Atlantic Village via Moreton Park Rd/Clovelly Rd (mostly by creating 20 mph zones and making improvements on the Clovelly Rd cycle path).
2c. Bideford College-Abbotsham (mostly by creating 20 mph zones and a new off-road cycle path all the way to Abbotsham, parallel to the exisiting road).
3. Heywood Roundabout-Westleigh Roundabout (Tarka Trail)This link will increase connectivity between Bideford and East-the-Water/Instow/Tarka Trail (providing an alternative for the busy Bideford Bridge) and greatly reduce the isolation of the Westward Ho/Northam/Appledore peninsula. The link will also allow cycling tourism on the Tarka Trail to make its way to Appledore and Westward Ho. 

This project would consist of an upgrade of the northern verge of the North Devon Link Road between Heywood and Westleigh Roundabouts. On this section of the Link Road, a 40 mph speed limit is in place, making it possible to safely create a shared cycling and walking path next to the road. Most of the way, a wide grass verge can be utilised. On the Torridge Bridge, the disused path on the north side of the bridge can be widened by realigning the main carriageway to the south, all according to a similar design as on the Barnstaple Western Bypass Bridge.

If all routes as explained above were to be created, Bideford would have its main routes in place. It can then start to look at further shorter routes to link various smaller areas to this main network.


Wow! Cycling is really taking off in Britain's "largest village". You'll find more and more people on bikes here, despite the fact that the A361 pushes itself north-south through the village, with all its congestion problems.

Main concern in Braunton from road safety point of view are the very narrow cycle lanes on both Saunton and Exeter Roads. When painted, these lanes were "in line with Department for Transport-guidelines", but it is better to remove these cycle lanes sooner rather than later. A safe cycle lane is at least two metres wide, if such a width is not possible, just don't paint it! If there is space, it is much better to build cycle paths, away from the road!
Quick wins in Braunton would be the development of a north-south route on the east side of the A361, with a cycle path eastbound alongside the A361 to the Chivenor roundabout (connecting to the Tarka Trail there). Part of it is currently being built as part of the new Chivenpr development, but the efforts seem to be stuck eastbound from the new roundabout. 

Braunton can also do with improvements of west-east A361 crossing routes. For example, the excellent off-road facilities on Vellator Way (see picture) have currently a low usage, because the cycle paths don't connect any where. If the path on the north side of Vellator Way was to be extended northbound on Exeter Road to the toucan crossing, with a further extension on the east side of Exeter Rd to Barton Lane, you would create a good west-east corridor between Vellator and Southmead School/Braunton Academy.

Further, as North Devon as a whole, we should ask ourselves why we can't cycle traffic-free from Braunton to Saunton Sands, one of our premium beaches. Such a route would be an enormous boost to leisure cycling in the area; it is flat and really only a couple of miles! A new Braunton to Saunton Cycle Route Facebook Group has been formed by various locals spring 2016. The group is proposing various possible route options on its page. A Community White Paper is now available on-line, see . A general call for support for this initiative is shown below:

If you want to get a cycle path from Braunton to Saunton Sands get on your bike on Saturday 18 June! A joined bike ride starts at 9.30 from Caen Car Park in Braunton. The ride heads for Saunton Sands, where a meeting starts from 10 am at Saunton Break Cafe; open to all!

Also for other campaigns in Braunton, if you live in Braunton or if you are a local councillor, our forum loves to hear from you! We need local input to get more campaigns for Braunton going!


Devon County Council is currently working on extension of the Tarka Trail between Knowle and Willingcott Cross. This is great news for the people of Ilfracombe, as it will finally allow them to cycle traffic-free from Ilfracombe's former railway station to Braunton and further on the Tarka Trail. 

This new link doesn't improve conditions in Ilfracombe itself. The town is clearly plagued by its hilly nature, but this doesn't mean cycling should be impossible.There is potential for a cycle route through the lower end of town, creating a west-east link, linking Slade with Hele via the town centre and harbour, mostly by introducing 20 mph areas and the construction of some short shared paths.

If you live in Ilfracombe or if you are a local councillor, our forum loves to hear from you! We need local input to get campaigns for Ilfracombe going!


Although being isolated from the Tarka Trail and having hardly any cycling facilities at all, things can be done to improve cycling conditions in South Molton. For example, a short dead-end link from the Community College to Williamson Way has recently been built, but if there was a path to be created from Williamson Way across the Cattle Market car park towards the Pannier Market and making a link into Duke Street, with flow for cyclists each way, then some areas of the town are starting to get connected. 

The now isolated cycle route from Mole Valley Farmers to North Road could truly head towards the town centre, if a solution for the bottleneck at the top of North Road was found and if there was a cycle path on the west side of North Road in the wide grass verge alongside the infant school. This could then link to North Street, which in its own turn links to Duke Street, and so on to the town centre. Wow, all South Molton schools connected! 

It should inspire us to find a way to get Raleigh Park connected to the town centre as well. All this can really be done at a reasonably low-cost. Once the bikes are truly out in South Molton, there should also be a study on how to create a traffic-calmed route via Filleigh, Swimbridge and Landkey to connect to the rest of the North Devon network in Barnstaple.

If you live in South Molton or if you are a local councillor, our forum loves to hear from you! We need local input to get campaigns for South Molton going!


Another town which deserves more, but with big challenges due to the terrain. The splendid Tarka Trail will always be well away from town due to the big difference in height. It doesn't mean that the Taddiport route via Mill Street can not be developed into a much better and visible link between the trail and town centre. It should! This route has than the potential to extend further east to the Calvesford Road roundabout, from where cycle paths could be built alongside both Calvesford Road and Hatchmoor Road, connecting to all housing estates and schools on these roads. Just as with South Molton, these links could be created at a reasonably low-coast.

If you live in Torrington or if you are a local councillor, our forum loves to hear from you! We need local input to get campaigns for Torrington going!


Cycling in rural Devon away from the Tarka Trail will always be difficult due to its hilly terrain, but some very simple things could make village cycling safer and more inviting, especially by simple speed reduction. For example, Georgeham has a 20 mph speed limit for the whole village, so why not extending this policy for all North Devon villages? Atherington has its own "20 is plenty" campaign and its little "20"-signs, although not approved by Devon County Council, are proving to be rather effective to slow traffic down, showing its potential. There is a 20's Plenty campaign for the whole of North Devon, see the 20's Plenty for North Devon website.   

Also, life in North Devon villages could be further improved if roads looked less like they were built for cars only (and they weren't!). Especially the removal of centre road lines on roads reduces the speed of motorised traffic, as it confirms the concept of a road as a shared space. This is done in Swimbridge and there is no reason why this policy couldn't be introduced to other villages, like Bratton Fleming, Muddiford and Milltown, Bishop's Tawton, Landkey, Umberleigh, Newton Tracey, Beaford, Monkleigh, Abbotsham and even Yelland. This is a policy which is not only good for cycling, but also creates better living conditions for all!  

(Last update: 25 April 2016)