Cyclists welcome bike route survey
CYCLISTS say Plymouth is on the path to pedal-powered success, after being named the UK's 'most bike-friendly location'.
The city triumphed in a nation-spanning survey of cycle routes and bike repair services.
The Virgin Money study also assessed the number of accidents in each town and city, along with bicycle theft rates.
Plymouth came out on top thanks to low crime levels and few serious or fatal accidents.
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Although many called for further improvements, cycle enthusiasts said the news followed years of nurturing Plymouth's growing network of cycle paths.
The city-based YOGi Cycling club, the South West's largest, said it could not recall a single theft of a bike from one of its 400-plus members. Social secretary Lynda Mctier said the number of accidents involving the club's members – who collectively cycle over a million miles a year – was also "amazingly low".
She said: "The city still has a long way to go to make it fully friendly for the cyclist, especially young families, but the survey does show the city is heading in the right direction."
Gareth Thomas, project coordinator at Devonport-based Bikespace, a not-for-profit organisation that trains bicycle mechanics, praised Plymouth City Council for securing Government cash and investing in cycle routes.
"There have been huge improvements in the cycle network in the last few years," he said. "Plymouth is a beautiful city to cycle in."
But Rob Scott, who runs City Cycle Couriers in Cattedown, said he was "surprised" to see Plymouth come out on top. "I don't think the cycle network has come on that much," he said. "There are still lots of potholes about. But I do think there are more people on bikes now than there used to be, which is definitely a good thing."
Mr Scott's concerns were echoed by 63-year-old David Gibbs, who cycles daily between his Widewell home and Devonport Naval Base, where he works.
He said city cycle paths – in particular one along Tavistock Road – were under-maintained.
"That one is an accident waiting to happen," said Mr Gibbs. "It's overgrown and the state of the actual surface is terrible."
Fellow cyclist David Cook, from Peverell, added: "My personal experience hasn't been particularly positive. Cycling in the city centre is a way to take your life into your own hands."
Mr Cook bemoaned city cycle paths that stopped abruptly – and others that took cyclists on roundabout routes.
The 43-year-old said he had also been the victim of theft, after leaving his bike securely locked up in the city centre.
"There should be more and better cycle paths available," Mr Cook added. "But there are positives; more people are getting out and about now than they used to."