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TRANsPORT sPECIAl

We asked for your views...
Pedal power for girls
i have recently moved back to the area
have kerbside electronic noticeboards
after fifteen years and am loving living
advising road conditions ahead. Would
in Sevenoaks. However, the big change
it not be helpful to install a similar Without waiting for Sevenoaks council
has been the level of traffic and related
display board for the M25 at, say, Bessels to lead the way, local volunteers are stepping in to
pollution, exacerbated by the particularly
Green? i have often pondered, too, why meet the demand from new bike riders for help and
large number of 4x4s. Having lived in
Sevenoaks has no convenient public training. Bee Gregorie founded her own testosterone-
Brighton and London, i have been spoilt
transport link with Gatwick Airport. free all-women cycling group last June and has found
as a cyclist with excellent cycle paths. i
Reading has a coach service every newbie riders flocking to her weekly outings. “Are
am surprised that KCC/SDC have been
20 minutes throughout the day to they scared of traffic?” I ask her. “They’re scared of
so slow to provide for cyclists in any way,
Heathrow and a rail service every half- everything,” she replies. “They’re scared of changing
in an area so full of fresh air and exercise
hour to Gatwick. John B. Howes gear. You have to build their confidence.” Her
lovers. Joanna Hogan
recruits come from a generation that grew up, unlike
A park and ride scheme at the
their parents, without learning to ride a bike. she
There is not one cycling initiative in
former site in Otford Road would help
takes the Kent Velo Girls out early on a sunday when
the town. Cyclists are forced on to the
take a significant amount of commuter
the roads are relatively empty, and now organises
few busy thoroughfares to get in and
traffic off the roads and reduce air
three rides a week for different levels of experience.
out of the town centre – Seal Hollow
pollution at one fell swoop. The Bat
“Four years ago I would come across just one or two
Road, the High Street, St John’s Hill. The
& Ball junction is not just dangerous
other cyclists, but now I see up to 30 on a sunday
fact that they are on hills makes it worse
in terms of air quality, but also to
morning,” she says. “There’s a whole untapped group
and more dangerous for cyclists. Cycling
pedestrians, who have to navigate the
of people out there who are desperate to cycle.”
is not allowed through Knole Park and
busy crossings to and from the railway
www.kentvelogirls.co.uk
many of the other routes that could help
station and the shops in St John’s Hill. it
cyclists from outlying areas are either
is high time that SDC seriously tackled
private roads or footpaths, so can’t be
the growing traffic and pollution at
used either. Most other towns have been
this junction, along with the parking
GET INVOlVED
keen to try and find cycling routes in
problems in the centre, and provided
and out of their towns but i’m afraid our
more environmentally friendly solutions

What are your views on the future of
council has buried its head in the sand.
for the wider benefit of all. Alan transport in Sevenoaks? Are you a cyclist?
Gavin
Bullion, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Send us your ideas, thoughts, reaction,
Spokesman for Sevenoaks pictures and memories...
in my home town of Reading we
onlinevine.co.uk/transport
central government. It’s a bit like filling out a job application.”
In east Kent, Thanet District Council has had a cycling plan since
2003 and aims to quadruple the proportion of journeys by bike from 3%
to 12% by 2012. (The current figure for Sevenoaks is less than 1%). It has
created 66km of new cycle routes in Thanet, introduced a string of cycle-
cycle-ops.co.uk
friendly policies and set up a Cycling Forum. Closer to home, Tonbridge
and Malling published its first cycling strategy in 1998.
Adam Coffman of CTC, which campaigns nationally for cyclists, says:
“I think it’s rather a weak copout for councils to say they’re not doing
Your local independent bike shop,
anything because nobody has asked them. Cycling ticks all the boxes
for things that local government should
for helpful, friendly advice.
be doing to fight obesity, congestion and
pollution and cut carbon emissions.” he
sales Whether you
explains that the average expenditure
per head in the UK on cycling by local
are looking for
government is around £1 compared to £5
in europe, rising to around £16 or £20 in
repair
a childs’ bike,
places such as Amsterdam where cyclists
form a critical mass. “The programme of
wanting to repair
cycling demonstration towns is designed to
show what can happen if we raise spending

service
an old favourite, or
to european levels. But the emphasis must
come from council officers and councillors.
dreaming of wearing
It depends on political will.”
T
R
I triathlon shop
Tony Clayton says sevenoaks District
the Tour de France
Council has not made the most of the
channels open to it to ask the county
Robert Thorne
council to improve things. “If the district
7
open 7 days a week yellow jersey...
council is prepared to put some money and
intellectual input into something, it will
happen.”
We can help
After years of inertia, that moment may be about to arrive. Kent
County Council and sevenoaks District Council have been working
Bank Street, Tonbridge, Kent
together on a Transport strategy which should be published in October.
Matthew Hogben of SDC says the plan will definitely include some cycle
paths. Watch this space, sevenoaks cyclists. You have nothing to lose but
Tel: 01732 500533
your chains. v
onlinevine.co.uk October 2008 vine 
ycleOps_Index0507.indd 1 14/5/07 6:18:06 am
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