Wakefield District Cycle Forum - promoting and campaigning for cyclists
Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Author: Meg Andrews

WDCF Newsletter June 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Jubilee Celebrations

Season’s greetings

Campaigns

               Cycle Wakefield

               A Frames

Rides

Workdays

Another Survey

Jubilee Celebrations

Although we have a few Georgians amongst our membership, most of us are true Elizabethans, ie born during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On the seventieth anniversary of her accession, the country is celebrating with a Platinum Jubilee and of course WDCF will be part of it. 

On Friday 3rd June, we will be holding an early ‘Holiday Wednesday’ and joining the celebrations at Nostell NT with our information stand and popular Cycle Skills course.

On Saturday 4th June, why not don red, white and blue for our easy ride from Thornes Park?  There’ll be tea and cake to celebrate at the end of it.  Wear a crown if you like but please don’t bring your corgi- their legs are too short to keep up!

Season’s Greetings

We’ve had some lovely weather recently, now the April showers have receded, and the season’s change has been magical.  Bushes are burgeoning with May blossoms now that the flowers have dropped from the blackthorn.  In places, paths are pink with fallen petals from the cherry trees and in others, rivers of bluebells flow through the trees.  These can be seen in the woods at Nostell and at Newmillerdam, as shown on the photo.  New birds have arrived at Fairburn and St Aiden’s bird reserves and twitchers, anxious mother ducks or wandering ducklings can all present a hazard.

Why not get out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the season, whether on one of our guided rides or with some friends?  We’ve rides of three levels starting from six different venues now, so it’s easy to find something to suit and a new area to explore.

Campaigns

  • Cycle Wakefield

Those of you who are more experienced riders and have travelled further than Wakefield and District have probably come across websites of our near neighbours CycleBradford (cyclebradford.org.uk) and CycleKirklees (cyclekirklees.org.uk). 

Not to be outdone, our own local authority is planning a new cycle website to be called Cycle Wakefield.  Ideally, this will prove an access point for all cyclists and those interested in cycle matters in the district for information about cycle clubs, cycle routes, pump tracks, BMX tracks, mountain bikes, bikeability, cycle shops, children’s bikes, cycle friendly cafes, bike repairs and bike repairers to name a few.  There will be links to websites like ours and a new logo.

The Forum is represented on all the various committees and subcommittees and can be relied on to put your reasonable views across if you let us know what you would like or what you feel is missing at present.

Bradford aimed to be the Capital of Cycling.  What do you think Wakefield should be working towards from a cycling point of view?

  • ‘A’ frames

As tandem riders, we have more problems than most with ‘A’ frames, kissing gates and other impedimenta allegedly essential to prevent quadbikes and unlicensed motorbikes using cycle routes and bridleways. Our difficulties as are nothing compared to those of users of mobility scooters, tricycles, twin pushchairs and tagalongs however.

Over the months I’ve been editing this publication, I’ve produced pictures of some of the gymnastics needed to get a nonstandard bike through a narrow ‘A’ frame and text about the curse of kissing gates. 

This month, for a change, here are pictures of two inexpensive alternatives used successfully on Castleford Greenway. 

The Sustrans notice is welcoming, whilst warning cyclists of the presence of horses and pedestrians and vice versa.

Rather than a Capital of Cycling, should Wakefield be promoting itself as ‘Active Travel -open to all’?

Rides

With Covid now in the background but still in the mind of most of us, the attendance on rides has picked up considerably.  We now regularly get 12 – 20 riders turning out, even on some easy rides.  For the first quarter of this year, we organised 36 rides with a total of 421 participants, 12 of whom were new to the Forum.

The full rides programme, up till the end of April next year, is shown on our leaflet which has just been printed and is available from local libraries, sports centres, doctors’ surgeries and selected shops.  If you can’t find one at your local centre, let us know and we will supply them.  The leaflet can also be downloaded from our website via the link on the Rides & Events page.

The next four months of the rides programme is advertised on our website – https://cycling-wakefield.org.uk/events-rides/  and all rides are advertised on Facebook, usually a week in advance – https://www.facebook.com/groups/WDCF1.

This year sees the start of both an Easy and a Steady ride from Pontefract Park where we meet outside the entrance to Aspire.

Remember, we have free loan bikes available at Pontefract Park, Nostell NT, Queen’s Mill Castleford and Thornes Park.  They may not be the latest technical spec but they do come with wheels, pedals and brakes.  Just email before the ride to book a bike and turn up 10 minutes early so it can be adjusted to fit.

We welcome new riders and would particularly like to hear from anyone who would like to become a Ride Leader.  We will provide certificated training, a superb orange safety vest with lots of useful pockets and a free first aid course!

On the 14th May we held our annual John Harvey Ride, where 21 people turned up to commemorate the life of a late stalwart of the Forum. 

The picture shows them assembled at what we hope to be the site of a bench commissioned by the Forum to remember John.  The bench will be very similar to Sandy and David’s bench at Nostell and locally made. 

By way of contrast, here’s a bench produced by an Italian company recently installed by Wakefield M D C on Castleford Greenway near Green Row Bridge.  The two sitting on it (who you may recognise) don’t seem to appreciate it much but it won’t rust.

Graham West, shown suitably atyred and not tyred at all, has been holding bike maintenance courses for WDCF at Pugneys.  They are free of charge, fun and very helpful but you do need to book.

If you hurry, you can book for the course on the 28th May or failing that there’s just  one more on the 25th June and Graham will also be at the South Hiendley Gala in July.

Workdays

The opportunity has been taken to spring-clean our stock of bikes that we lend out to those attending our rides who have no bike of their own and wish to try before they buy or who would have difficulty bringing their own bike to the start of one of our rides.

Apart from checking the brakes, gears, tyres and tyre pressures, we’ve been fitting mudguards and bottle carriers and replacing the odd bell that no longer rings.  Andy Beecroft, Workgroup Coordinator, is pictured here servicing one of our bikes at Aspire.

Workgroups have also been out improving the drainage across one of the tracks on the Nostell Estate which turns very boggy when it rains.  The location is ‘luck contrived patch’ if you’ve got the What3Words app on your phone.  For the future, there’s plenty of work still to do on the Trans Pennine Trail.  If you’d like to assist, contact Andy on info@cycling-wakefield.co.uk and he’ll add you to his list of volunteers to be contacted when help is needed.

Another Survey

WDCF receives funding from WMDC to put on a rides programme. The grant comes from the Healthy Travel & Transport section of the Health Improvement Department.  From time to time, the department sends out surveys to check that ratepayers’ money or the appropriate government grant (ie taxpayers’ money) is being well spent.  We are due for a new survey shortly and the questionnaire will be sent out to all members as soon as we get it.  The council wants to know how you feel cycling has affected your health.  I urge you to complete and return the survey when you get it as there will be another one coming along a few months later.  Ideally these will show that thanks to cycling, walking or whatever exercise you choose to take both your physical and mental health are gradually improving.

Sandal Castle
Uphill to Sandal Castle

One of our members, when asked whether cycling had improved her mental health, responded very positively:

‘Several years ago, I had a mad idea to purchase a bike through the Cycle to Work Scheme (not having ridden since at school, and even then not very well).  I worked as a secretary for the NHS, which is not a very active job and felt that I needed more balance in life as I seemed to be working and very little else.  

I found that due to inactivity, I was suffering from aches and pains. Physically and mentally my world had shrunk considerably.  I wasn’t depressed but I was aware that my lifestyle was not good for me in either respect and I needed to do something proactive to address this.  I tried walking, which most people seem to enjoy, but unfortunately it didn’t do anything for me.  I did quite enjoy being outdoors though.

This is when I found the Wakefield District Cycle Forum.

And this is where the mental health part comes in.  I nervously turned up at Nostell Priory, having manhandled said bike into car (a feat in itself being a Mini!), wearing normal suitable clothing, and met a bunch of people similarly dressed waiting to welcome me.  We set off and rode through the woods and into a wonderland as far as I was concerned.  Immediately, the freedom of being on a bike, pedalling away with the breeze on your face, was like therapy to me.  I had no idea it would have such an effect on me.  I wasn’t thinking of work or finances, or family issues or anything else apart from looking around at the countryside and staying on my bike!!  Seven miles later, with a cafe stop in between (I could not believe I had ridden 7 whole miles), I was so invigorated I could have done it all again.  The company was lovely and there were no hills, just a small slope or two which I managed fine.  My confidence was boosted and I knew there and then that this was going to be a permanent fixture in my life.  And it has been!  The group is fantastic and I have made many great new friends.  I am now trained as a ride leader so that I can encourage anyone who was as reluctant or nervous as I was, and they can benefit from the effects of cycling on their life.’ 

As a diabetic, I find cycling regularly improves my blood sugar levels, as well as allowing the occasional sweet treat if extra effort is required.  Others have found that when a dodgy hip, defective knee joint or impaired lung capacity make walking difficult, they can still get out and about quite happily on a bike.  When caring responsibilities or work pressures make it difficult to socialise, a couple of hours cycling through the countryside in friendly company can set you up for the week ahead, even if it rains!

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WDCF Newsletter March 2022

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Christmas Festivities 2021
A New Survey
Rides
Agbrigg to Walton route
John Harvey’s bench
Workgroup Update
Looking back to 2011
Looking forwards

Christmas Festivities 2021

In the December 2021 newsletter I promised, ‘Wet or dry, there will be a photo feature in our next newsletter’ so here’s a photo of our Christmas riders at Anglers.  I’m afraid the group got a bit spaced out at Queen’s Mill- sorry I mean very socially distanced, so I haven’t got a photo of that ride but I’m sure you’ll be able to picture it.  It was a crisp winter’s morning with no snow or rain, although David Leigh did his reindeer impression again.

The arrival of the Omicron variant of Covid in Yorkshire put the Forum’s 2021 Christmas dinner in jeopardy.  After due consideration and bearing in mind the size of the dining room at Kings Croft, it was decided to go ahead but all were requested to carry out a lateral flow test first.  Although the crowd of people in the foyer was a bit daunting, it was immediately clear that these were attending a separate event in a different dining room, and over 30 masked cyclists in festive outfits made their way through to the King’s Dining Room. 

We were grouped in tables of no more than 8 and had ordered our choices beforehand, so mingling with staff was kept to a minimum.  There was no singing or dancing, which is a shame as it would have been good to see Sandy swirling his kilt. 

David Leigh marked Sandy’s retirement from WDCF committee with a speech (shortened by the fact that much of what he would have said had recently featured in the December Newsletter) and the presentation of a choice bottle of whisky.

Thanks, and a bouquet of flowers, were given to Janet Taylor for organising the dinner so ably. Meg also said a few words, lamenting the effects of Covid on the 2021 rides programme but looking forward to improvements in 2022. After a delicious meal, enhanced by the company of long missed friends, we moved on to a two-part quiz ably presented by Neville, leading to groans at some of the sneaky questions. John and Ruth (pictured later at Sandal Castle café) ably won first prize but there were cheers from partisan family members when Isabelle Leigh won the tiebreaker for second place with lightning speed. 

A New Survey

Other publications have crosswords or sudoku.  We’ve got a survey.  If you’ve finished your Wordle for the day and can’t face trying a Quordle, Wakefield Council is undertaking a survey around its key services. The Sport and Leisure team trying to assess residents’ attitudes, views and perceptions of physical activity and would love to hear from everybody; young people, adults and older adults who live in the district.

We all know how important cycling is, how it’s good for our physical and mental health, kind to the environment and fun but to make sure WMDC knows this too, please complete the survey by visiting https://tinyurl.com/haveyoursay2022.  It doesn’t take long!

Rides

A new rides programme has been introduced so that there is an Easy  and a Steady ride each weekend on the first four weekends of the month, with each Saturday and Sunday alternating between Easy and Steady rides. Our popular challenging Steady Plus road ride from Darrington on the first Saturday of the month continues unchanged.

On the second Tuesday of the month there will be a Steady ride from Aspire in Pontefract Park followed by an Easy ride from Nostell on the fourth Tuesday.

You may be slightly confused in the only month this year where the first Sunday of the month precedes the first Saturday. After some discussion, it was decided that it will be easier for people if the first Saturday is always an Easy ride and the first Sunday a Steady so in May (did you notice the hint earlier?) after a Steady ride on Sunday 1st May, there will be two Easy rides the next weekend and two Steady rides the weekend after.  Don’t worry if your brain is hurting by this stage.  Our rides will all appear on the Rides and Events page of our website and again on our Facebook page a week or so before the event.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel several rides at the beginning of the year due to some appalling weather.  Although it is possible to dress to avoid the cold and rain, as the photo of John and Ruth outside the café at Sandal Castle on our very wet ride there demonstrates, strong, gusty winds present different hazards.  We aim to introduce new riders to the pleasures and freedoms of cycling and seeing some-one else blown into the canal or under a passing car rather detracts from this.  Riding with the wind behind you can be exhilarating but, as all our rides start and end at the same point, at some stage you will be battling into a headwind which isn’t as much fun. 

Reconnoitering for future rides, leaders have found a number of branches and even whole trees that have fallen across cycle paths and some surprisingly deep puddles, all of which present problems if you’re not expecting them. Notice of all the cancellations was posted on Facebook and a ride leader was present at each starting point on the day to alert anyone who hadn’t got the message (or read the weather forecast) and turned up.  No-one did and the feedback on Facebook was all positive.

The line-up of riders in front of Nostell Priory suggests we have all put on a lot of weight over Christmas.  In fact, it was very cold and we’re wearing many layers of clothing. 

The ride photos demonstrate how many riders wear fluorescent yellow jackets. When you have a line of 15 or 16 cyclists following you, it’s difficult to check everyone is following unless the back marker stands out in some way. To make it easier, all our ride leaders and back markers have been issued with orange vests with the Forum’s logo, a pocket for a radio and space for a name badge.  There’s also room for a handkerchief, phone, energy bars, jellybabies, house keys or whatever other small items they choose to carry.  Orange vests also assist newcomers to identify who is looking after the ride.  You will see from the photo how smart they look:

If you’re not leading or backmarking a ride (or sitting on the back of the ride leader’s tandem!) we would ask that you don’t wear an orange vest, as that would defeat the object.  If you really covet an orange jersey vest, why not talk to Neville about training as a ride leader?

The John Harvey Memorial ride, usually an annual event, will take place in May of this year. The date and details will be in the rides schedule in due course. As part of the Queens Platinum Jubilee celebrations, on Saturday 4 June participants on the Thornes Easy Ride will be served appropriate celebratory refreshments. We are also planning an additional “Holiday Wednesday” event on Friday 3 June, full details of which will appear in the next newsletter.

Agbrigg to Walton Route

At the end of November last year, WDCF were advised by WMDC that no water voles were found by the survey the council had arranged and paid for and that they would make us a grant to cover the cost of sorting the path out. 

We have signed the agreement to undertake the work and received half of the money up front.  Don’t worry, we’re not seeking volunteers to build a gabion.  We’ve got a quote to carry out the path work which precisely matches the amount of the grant. Our contractor has been instructed to go ahead and we await developments with bated breath. 

Thanks are due to all involved in getting this project back on track, including Peter Hirst of Agbrigg Community Centre and the now helpful team at WMDC. We plan to involve the local community in the opening celebrations in due course and of course you’ll all be invited too.

John Harvey’s Bench

At last approval has been granted for the proposed site of the bench we have commissioned in memory of a much missed colleague.  The bench has been commissioned and we hope to unveil it on or around our John Harvey Memorial ride,

Workgroup update

Workdays since our November leaf clear have been very hit and miss for various reasons. It is the intention to restart our path maintenance work as the weather improves. We still have some outstanding edging work to complete in the canal cutting at Walton, some light trimming to the vegetation along the return route through the woods at Nostell and some drainage work near the railway bridge also at Nostell. As ever, if you are out and about and notice anywhere you feel a bit of maintenance is required, please get in touch via Facebook or email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk.

It was decided that, instead of working on the path network this winter, we would clean and service our bikes at Aspire as they were in a bit of a state. On our first workday, we gave all the bikes a good clean and drew up a list of what was required to bring them up to scratch. Items such as mudguards and bottle holders have been purchased and, despite a few cancelled sessions, we should have the fleet in good fettle when the crowds return in spring.

We can report that thanks to WDMC (Environment, Street Scene and Climate Change) we now have a home for our trailer and equipment at Pugneys. Since we had to move the trailer from Tadman Street Depot, it had resided on David Keighley’s drive so he will no doubt be relieved that he can get his wheely bins out now without trouble. Currently Mark Beswick’s vehicle is our only means of moving the trailer so it would be good if all you members out there who are caravanners could consider offering your services from time to time. I’m sure Mark would appreciate it.

I intend to continue to circulate information concerning workdays to the select list of willing volunteers so if you fancy a spot of manual labouring as exercise, please get in touch via Facebook or email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and I’ll add you to my list.

Andy Beecroft Workgroup Manager

Looking Back to 2011

Researching through our past newsletters, I found the following article, published 11 years ago:

‘Wakefield District Cycle Forum has been campaigning for over two years now for an agreed set of standards for cycle infrastructure both on the highway and on off-road paths. At the last meeting of the Cycle Forum on 18th January 2011 Tracey Brewer, Group Engineer Highways Development, reported that a new Cycle Strategy had been completed and, after consultation with other Wakefield Metropolitan District Council departments, would go forward for approval to the Council Cabinet.

 Within the Strategy will be incorporated standards for highways developments which should mean that all new and renewal of the highways’ infrastructure will incorporate features such as cycle lanes, advanced stop lines and feeder lanes for cyclists at junctions with traffic lights. We should also see the reduced use of A-frame access barriers, which should allow easier access to cycle paths and bridleways.

 Tracey is also working with the Cycle Forum to improve off-road cycle paths through the planning process. In future, all developers will have to comply with the strategy and include cycle friendly infrastructure in developments. This would include new cycle paths where they have been identified as potential routes by the Council and Cycle Forum. The strategy also includes agreed standards for cycle parking in new developments. We hope this is a new step in a positive relationship between Council and Cycle Forum.’

Have developments since made us cynical? The Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2021, also titled Local Plan 2036 mentions cycling 14 times, generally in a positive fashion.  We can only live in hope.

Looking Forwards

In May 2021, Transport for London installed new traffic lights at 18 crossings across London in a trial to see what effect they had on people walking and drivers. The signals are different to the norm in that they show a continuous green signal to pedestrians until a vehicle is detected approaching the crossing. The signal then changes to red for pedestrians, allowing the vehicle to cross the junction before returning to a green signal for pedestrians.    

The results of the trial suggest that the pedestrian priority signals reduced journey times for people walking and made it easier and safer for them to cross. By reducing the waiting time for a green signal, the total time saved by all pedestrians at the average crossing in the trial was 1.3 hours a day.  

People walking were 13 per cent more likely to cross on green, reducing the risk of a collision with a vehicle, while compliance by people driving stayed the same. Apparently, the new signals had virtually no impact on traffic, with only minimal increases in journey times for buses and general traffic. The largest increase for buses was only 9 seconds and for general traffic only 11 seconds – hardly noticeable. Some sites even showed improvements in journey times for motorists. 

Would something like this work for shared crossings in Wakefield for cyclists and pedestrians? Possibly, although when crossing Doncaster Road earlier in the week the constant stream of cars meant a pedestrian, cyclist or horse rider wouldn’t get a chance to cross without the opportunity of pushing a button.  In areas with lighter traffic, in crossings near schools or hospitals or at the edges of a pedestrianised areas, it’s certainly an idea worth looking at.

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WDCF Newsletter December 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Christmas Festivities

General Meeting

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Retirement of Sandy Clark

‘A’ frames – We are not alone

Rides

  • Update
  • Ride Leaders training

Workdays

Christmas Festivities

We’ll be holding two Santa rides this year.  Both are easy rides starting at 10.30am and you are welcome to bring your children or grandchildren with you.  The first is on Sunday the 5th December setting off from Nostell Priory and the second on Saturday 11th December from Queen’s Mill Castleford.  You are encouraged to decorate yourself and your bike in festive fashion.  We are planning mince pies and a hot drink and hope that Santa will be able to join us.

Our last pre-pandemic Santa ride was rather damp so we’re hoping for better weather this year.  Wet or dry, there will be a photo feature in our next newsletter.  If you are planning to borrow a bike, why not turn up early with some tinsel to pimp your ride!

General Meeting

Not many turned up for the General Meeting of the Forum on Thursday 18th November apart from the committee and the proposed updates to the constitution were the only thing on the agenda. These were uncontroversial and had been fully explained in the notice for the meeting.  The only amendment suggested was accepted without issue and the changes were then passed unanimously.

Thanks are due to all who attended and to Ackworth Parish Council who allowed us to use the meeting room.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

One of the respondents to the local authority’s questionnaire, mentioned in our last newsletter, outlined their difficulty in specifying how often they visit Anglers’ Country Park as they and their spouse only ride their bikes in the summer.  I truly think that they are missing out.

I have already waxed lyrical about springtime rides and the transition from celandines to violets and from bluebells to buttercups, with blackthorn blooms followed by burgeoning may blossoms.  In autumn, now the elderberry wine has been bottled, the plump sloes picked for gin making and the blackberries jammed into pies, we’ve still got the beautiful palette of autumn leaves to marvel at both in the trees and as we crunch over them.  The sun seems lower in the sky and dazzles but in sheltered spots you can still feel its warmth.  Myriad of migrating birds are more visible through the bare branches and fungi flourish.

It’s going to get colder and we’ll all put on pounds of extra layers to keep warm. We’ll enjoy wheeling through our winter wonderlands together, with or without snow, cracking frozen puddles, fuelled by coffee, cake, hot soup and the camaraderie of colleagues.  Cycling truly isn’t just a summer pastime.

Retirement of Sandy Clark

Dr Sandy Clark has let it be known that he wishes to retire from the committee of WDCF and to relinquish his post as Campaign Officer.

A trawl through our old newsletters reveal that Sandy has been with WDCF from the start.   The beginnings of the Cycle Forum were laid in 2001 when a motion was passed at the Pontefract Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) annual meeting in Ackworth to start a campaign committee, which was to develop into a cycle forum. The founding committee members were Steve Kidd, Sandy Clark, Graham Lawrence, Bill Houlder, and Des Hampshire. The first action of the committee was to organise a set of rides to illustrate the good and bad points of what the council had done for cyclists. These rides started at South Elmsall, Castleford, Pontefract and Thornes Park. Council officer Andrew Fowler attended the first ride and with the CTC campaign committee set up the Wakefield Cycle Users Forum as a consultative forum to Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC).

The initial achievements of the Cycle Users Forum were under threat when the council, in 2007, decided to axe the Cycle Officer post, which the Forum had successfully argued for, and the healthy transport team. It was this action by WMDC that convinced Forum members that an independent Cycle Forum with its own constitution, volunteers and funds was needed. Wakefield District Cycle Forum became an independent organisation in March 2008 and its first newsletter appeared 6 months later.  Dr Sandy Clark was chairman with David Keighley as vice chairman, a partnership that has continued to this day. WDCF was constituted to take on an active role to promote cycling in the district. They managed to ensure that the entire budget allocated to cycling in the Local Transport Plan was actually spent on dedicated cycle schemes.

WDCF began by looking at some of the existing cycle network and wondering if, with a little effort on the “missing links”, then perhaps a couple of tracks might be joined. One of these links would join a section of cycle track behind the Academy School in Crofton with a section of road running down to Yorkshire Water Treatment plant, under the short rail tunnel and out into Walton Colliery Nature Park. This would avoid cyclists having to ride on the road underneath a railway bridge which was always tricky for bikes and road vehicles to share. It would also provide a mainly off-road ride down to Sandal and Agbrigg station. Yorkshire Water were definitely against the move to open up the tunnel near their treatment plant and Network Rail had little interest in removing the barriers which had been placed at the entrance to the tunnel. WDCF enlisted support from the local MP Jon Trickett, Walton and Crofton Parish Council, local walking groups and Northern Rail. Although Jon Trickett played an influential part in helping to get the attention of Network Rail, Sandy Clark took a central role in bringing these parties together and as it turned out, he was the heartbeat which kept the project going.

In 2013, Sandy Clark, still chairman, project managed the Chevet Branch Line Bridleway Project to turn a disused railway line adjacent to Newmillerdam into a bridleway with an all-weather surface for multi-user use eventually linking the Trans Pennine Trail at Old Royston to Newmillerdam Country Park and Wood Lane.

More recently, Sandy has led the campaign to upgrade the track between Agbrigg-Oakenshaw Lane to provide a traffic free route between a local community centre and Walton Country Park.  He has been vociferous in his opposition to barriers on cycle routes, pursuing a claim to the Local Government Ombudsman which led to WMDC being ordered to consult interested parties and think again.

Sandy edited the newsletter for some time, which meant that efforts and achievements were attributed to the team as a whole and his name rarely appeared.  He is keen that David Keighley’s contribution, particularly in regard to the routes over Lord St Oswald’s lands at Nostell, are not overlooked.  He attributes much of his success to their teamwork.

Personally, I have found Sandy helpful and supportive. He is keen to encourage nervous riders and willing to divert from the route of a guided ride to take someone back by a gentler route or to lead a breakaway party on a more testing diversion.  With Sandy’s encouragement you find yourself taking on more and more, starting with backmarking or producing items for the newsletter, progressing to ride leader or editor.  The steps may be baby steps at first, with Sandy’s support in the background, but he’s happy to see you run in due course.  I am told that he can be forceful and irascible at times, which may be what a narrow A-frame needs.

Sandy will still be a ride leader and (*spoiler alert for our younger readers) dress up as Santa Claus for at least one of our Christmas rides.  We wish him a long and smiling retirement.

‘A’ frames – We are not alone

Jack Turston writing in Cycling UK’s October/November magazine on the Taff trail between Pontypridd and Cardiff, commented:

‘From Llandaff onwards there were many more people on the Trail. including lots of other families with young children – a sure sign of a successful traffic-free route.  In Ponicanna Fields we saw side-by-side tandem quadricycles from Pedal Power, the Cardiff charity which maintains a fleet of specially adapted trikes and bikes for children and adults with disabilities. 

One really good aspect of this section of the Trail was the absence of the kind of barriers installed by over-zealous local authorities to keep motor scooters from using paths reserved for walkers and cyclists. While a nuisance for people on standard bikes, these barriers are a disaster for those with non-standard cycles such as tricycles, tandems, handcycles, recumbents and cargo bikes, as well as users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The removal of barriers along our route has been a boon for people like Cardiff resident JP and his disabled son, who ride a Hase Pino, a semi-recumbent tandem.’

We wish that WMDC were as wise when it comes to the accessibility of cycle routes!

Rides

  • Update

For the three month period from September to November, the Forum ran 29 guided rides with an average of over 11 cyclists per ride.  The three most popular events were: –

  • 19 riders – Steady Sep 25th Queens Mill, Castleford
  • 18 riders – Steady Oct 23rd Queens Mill, Castleford
  • 17 riders – Easy Nov 7th Nostell NT

Unfortunately, we did have to cancel one of our rides due to adverse weather conditions – snow & ice.  However, thanks to the determination of the intrepid Ride leader, this event successfully ran a few days later and attracted nine hardy cyclists.

A highlight of one of our early rides this season was David Leigh’s 500th ride with WDCF.  David regularly leads our steady ride from Queens Mill, Castleford and Tuesday’s steady ride from Pontefract Park. He is often on hand too to take over if some-one can’t lead a ride due to holidays or has bike problems.  David’s support of the rides programme is invaluable and his work as membership secretary essential. He often leads us to unusual places like Councillor Henry Daley’s  Memorial Garden in Walton Country Park Memorial shown below:

In November we arranged for Cycling UK to run a Ride Leader training course.  Some of the concepts were new to those attending but under the watchful and patient eye of our trainer, we all soon became adept at the concept of ‘snaking’.  Nothing to do with reptiles, just an efficient and safe way of negotiating junctions with a group of possibly not very experienced cyclists.  The course was enjoyed by all even with the numerous short steep hills and multiple junctions.  You should soon be seeing some new faces at the front and back.

Apart from the regular attendees, we do continue to attract new cyclists on our rides but we would like to reach a wider audience.  Advertising is currently limited to the website and Facebook but we hope to reach more people once we can produce and distribute our events leaflet in Spring next year. 

  • Ride Leaders training (Linda Holmes)

When asked if I’d like to take part in the ride leader training run by Cycling UK my first reaction was ‘I’ve already done ride leader training for Wakefield District Cycle Forum – why would I need to do it again?’  But, after a little encouragement from Neville and Sandi, I agreed to join in.

I’d never been to Pontefract Park before, and didn’t know the immediate area at all.  When Sandi and I arrived our Cycling UK trainer was already at the bike stands waiting for us all.  Sandi had given me a lift to the venue and had brought her own bike, but I borrowed one of the Forum’s bikes.  We eventually altered it to fit me, but I found the limited gears a challenge on the hilly one-mile circuit we were to train on.  Nevertheless, I managed to do the circuit a few times, even though I needed to stand up on the pedals to get up one of the hills!

Having done previous training apart from Cycling UK, it was the differences in approach that stood out to me.  The main difference was Cycling UK’s use of the ‘snaking’ method of changing direction during a ride.  In this the person who is the Back Marker becomes more of a Ride Manager.  It is this person who will keep an eagle eye on the Ride Leader for signals in changes in direction, and then signals and moves out first to protect the people on the ride.  The Ride Manager will also move up to the front of the group alongside the Ride Leader when the group needs to turn from a minor to a major road, to tell the group when it is clear for them to move out.  This simple change in role from merely making sure no one falls behind to becoming a sort of ‘shepherd of the flock’ has a great impact on increasing the safety of people on the ride, and makes the Back Marker’s role a crucial one.  The training route, though short, included all possible variations of junctions and turns; as our trainer said, ‘If you can lead/manage a ride on this route, you can do it anywhere’.

Our trainer was really calm and reassuring, and the perfect person for raising the confidence in ride leading for our group. I would heartily recommend Cycling UK’s Ride Leader training to all WDCF ride leaders and back markers, however long or short a time they have been with us.

  • Ride Leaders training (Sandi Kinkead)

If you read my previous article, you will know that I started off as a complete novice cyclist who knew nothing about cycling, for example where to go or who to go with.  I was nervous of roads and consequently hadn’t been out anywhere until I discovered the Forum.  I have gone from strength to strength since then and now go out alone as well as with friends who I have met through the Forum. I even know a couple of routes now! 

However, I digress!  This is about my experience of Ride Leader training.  I decided to do this as it seemed to be the same hardworking people leading and back marking, week after week.  I thought it was time I did something to help out even if it was  only a little contribution, so was happy, but nervous to participate in the training when asked. 

We first did an online training session from home which was ok, albeit I struggled a bit with saving and moving from one section to another.  I got it done in the end. 

Then there was the practical training which I have to say I was nervous about.  I still feel fairly novice as I am not someone who has ridden bikes all my life so don’t know many routes etc.  I have learned loads from going out on rides with the group, which helped a lot with the practical training.

We met at Pontefract Park and did a session in a quiet part of the car park first of all.  This was all very easy.  How to prepare riders for a ride, checking bikes and doing safety checks etc.  Then a session round cones practicing what we would eventually do on a real road.  That was quite good fun and the instructor had a smashing sense of humour. 

So off we went, out into the real world.  He said it was only a section of a mile long but gosh, it was quite a step up from riding round cones.  To start with, we had to ride up a hill and stop at the top at a junction, turn left on a road which was on a slope, then fairly soon after, make a right turn!!  Easy enough if you are on your own but with a row of baby ducks (fellow cyclists) behind to keep an eye on, not so easy.  We had been taught that the back marker would see you signal right or left and then he/she would cycle up to the front to usher all the baby ducks across the road.  Again, not necessarily easy on a road on a hill!  There were lots of other quick turns and manoeuvrers after that so not a straight road in sight, much to my dismay!

Anyway, everyone did brilliantly but I have to admit I said I would like more practice before having a go which he said was fine.  As I am going to be leading/back marking easy rides, hopefully I will be on routes with much less traffic until my confidence grows. 

I found the training very helpful though and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Workdays

At the AGM in September, Andy Beecroft was appointed Workgroup Coordinator. As things hopefully start returning to normal, Andy will be organising workdays to carry out maintenance on the cycle network. He will be liaising with Wakefield, Sustrans and TPT to ensure that we work in a coordinated manner. We will also carry out servicing work to our stock of bikes and equipment to ensure that it is in good order when required.

Andy circulates future workday details using a select list of members who want to be involved so if you feel like you would like to come along get in touch via info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk

Our bi-monthly work mornings restarted on 22nd November with the annual leaf clear in Barnsley canal cutting near Walton. Six volunteers turned out on what was a lovely sunny but cool morning. Conditions were perfect for the task which was completed in record time due to the current dry spell. The cutting is particularly susceptible to leaf build up which makes this section of the trail extremely muddy and slippery if not dealt with. There were several passers-by both on wheels and on foot who expressed there appreciation of our work. Well done team.

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WDCF Newsletter September 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

AGM

Summer Blues 

Campaigns

  Barriers consultation

  Saving the world

  Historical campaigns

Rides

Cycling UK

Two New Contributors

   How cycling came into my life

   How cycling came back into my life

Christmas dinner

Annual General Meeting 2021

After a series of postponements, our first AGM since April 2019 finally took place on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 in the august surroundings of St Giles’ Church Pontefract.  Thanks are due to our outgoing chairman, David Leigh for arranging this facility.

The meeting began on a solemn note when members were reminded of the death in October 2019 of Dennis Bell from a heart attack and asked to record thanks for what Dennis had done for the Forum. His first ride with us was in February 2014, when 46 people attended – the second largest ride in the Forum’s history.  He soon became a keen ride leader, a stalwart of workdays and a bike doctor with a detailed knowledge of cycles.  Thanks were given for Dennis’s contribution.

The AGM turnout was disappointing at only 14 out of a membership of 1,189.  We do now have a new Chair- Meg Andrews, assisted by two Vice Chairs, Cherry Oldham and David Keighley.  David Leigh remains Membership Secretary and retains responsibility for Statistics.  Mark Beswick continues as a very able Secretary for the group whilst Joyce Roche as Treasurer, overseen by Neville Andrews as Auditor, ensures the books are in order.

Sandy Clark takes the new position of Campaign Officer, a post to which he is ably suited.  Meg Andrews retains her responsibility for publicity and communications, whilst David Keighley continues as Events Manager, Neville Andrews as Rides Manager and Website Manager and Davids Leigh and Keighley with Neville Andrews and Angie Boyd  look after our increasingly busy Facebook page.  Andy Beecroft has agreed to act as Workgroup Manager and amongst other things will be looking into insurance cover for workdays, which we hope to resume now that the redundant 2 metre distancing requirement no longer makes these impractical. 

Summer Blues

Sadly, Covid reared its ugly head again. After ‘Freedom Day’, case numbers locally went through the roof and reluctantly the decision was taken to cancel the planned and much anticipated Holiday Wednesdays at Nostell and our attendance at Portobello Gala.  Close proximity to large numbers of schoolchildren posed too much of a risk to our vulnerable volunteers.  Perhaps next year we’ll be able to find more foolhardy and fitter candidates to adjust the bikes, hand out helmets and wield the stopwatches after our celebrated twisty circuit has been constructed once again.

Campaigns

   Barriers Consultation

Those of you who read the Ombudsman’s final decision on our complaint about the kissing gates installed at Haw Park Wood will be aware that he found that the Council did not consult properly before it replaced the gate, so that cyclists have lost the opportunity to comment on the changes and have suffered a loss of access (see our Campaigns section for a link to the report).

The Council had agreed to consult on the changes, retake its decision and issue guidance to staff.  When no sign of any consultation appeared, despite strong prompting from us, WDCF went back to the Ombudsman.  As a result, the Council has now sent out a survey which you can access at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WRSKSQT but your response must be in by 12th October 2021

Question 1 gives a choice of impediments to progress, none of which appeal, but the list does include ‘other’.  Initially it was impossible to insert a response in this box but after our intervention, this has been corrected. I put ‘Bollards’ in at this point (as a helpful suggestion not a comment on the other proposals!).

It’s a great pity that the response to question 4, asking why people visit, is limited to one choice and will therefore present an incomplete picture. Our last trip through the wood allowed us to get some exercise outside in the fresh air, while reconnoitring a new route for a future ride which would help a collection of others get outside and connect to nature, which I calculate would have allowed me to tick any of six different boxes.  Knowing whether people are coming for the benefit of their physical or mental health would surely help in planning facilities in the area, although I’m not sure of the relevance of the question as a whole when it comes to means of making access difficult or impossible for some visitors.  There aren’t options ‘to try out my new trials bike’ or ‘because I’m not insured to drive my quadbike on the road’!

Nevertheless, it would be helpful if you could complete the survey.  At our AGM, the option of simply removing the kissing gate, leaving easy access for cyclists proved the most popular, followed by  ‘Bollards’ .

   Saving the world

The Conference of the Parties, more commonly known as COP26, will be taking place in Glasgow between the 31st October and 12th November 2021.  Its focus this year will be climate change.

A group of 12 walkers will be setting off from Spain on the 28th  of September with a view to publicising the event by holding a set of assemblies as they march across the country.  They will be travelling between Darton and Leeds via Wakefield on the 15th October, hoping to arrive at Wakefield Cathedral at around midday for a rally. 

‘All very interesting, but what’s this got to do with me?’ you may be asking.  If you missed your chance to be in the peloton for the Tour de Yorkshire, local organisers are  hoping for a team of cyclists to act as an advance party to let the public know the walkers are on the way.  You may even be given use of a megaphone.  If you are interested, email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers.

   Historical Campaigns

You may well be familiar with our Campaigns page on the website, having been diverted there in an earlier post to read the ombudsman’s decision. 

If you scroll down the page, however, you will find details of past glories.  If you’ve ever wondered how the Wonders of Wakefield route was created or how the co-operation of Lord St Oswald lead to links with Walton Country Park, this is the place to go,

Rides

After months of famine, the rides programme is now going well with 16 on a recent Queen’s Mill Easy Ride. The weather and the state of the terrain varies, as you’ll see from these photos of a ride from Pugneys and one from Nostell.  After months of isolation, it’s good to see these happy  faces.

Since we were released from lockdown and rides restarted properly, we have had 70 individual riders of whom 30 were new to WDCF. A full programme of rides is running although the Thornes Easy Ride is scheduled to stop after the October outing.

We have riders willing  to back mark but still need volunteers to come forward as Ride Leaders.  Training and support will be provided.

The website has details of the full rides programme and each event is announced on Facebook.

A full leaflet will be produced for the 2022 programme of rides along the line of that last issued in 2020.

We have bikes at Nostell, Thornes and Castleford that can be borrowed for the duration of a ride.

Loan bikes at Queen’s Mill, Castleford have been moved to a new location on the site refurbished by members and have been serviced.

It is hoped to get the rest of the bikes serviced soon, ready for next year.

Cycling UK

WDCF is now affiliated to Cycling UK and our website with details of all the rides will be linked to theirs. 

Our rides will be covered by their Organisers Liability cover, a significant saving on our existing insurance, although we have to tell them first if we are expecting more than 200 people on a ride.  In that event, I would expect a significant outlay on flags and bunting too! 

There are a couple of new rules that affect us.  There should not be more than 10 non-members on any ride – that’s people who are not members of  WDCF, there’s no obligation for individuals to join Cycling UK.  Similarly, a non-member should not participate in more than 3 rides.  As life membership of WDCF costs only £5, less than the price of a gallon of petrol, this should not be a deterrent.

If you want to join Cycling UK personally, if you quote our Affiliation number 90215242 the price reduces to £28, a saving of £20.  You’ll then get their newsletter, third party liability cover and some retail discounts.

Two New Contributors

1.   How Cycling came into my life

Well here goes!!  I am pleased to have been asked to provide something for the Forum newsletter to indicate how cycling came into my life and what impact it has had.   I have never done anything like this before (writing for newsletter or writing for anything for that matter) so please forgive me if I waffle on a bit!

I found the Wakefield District Cycle Forum after speaking to my son one day.  I had bought a new bike through the Cycle to Work scheme five years previously and was too nervous to ride it.   I didn’t know where to go even if I did have the confidence.  So, this lovely new blue/silver bike sat gathering dust in the shed.  I’d been out on it a couple of times but no further than a mile or two.  My daughter took me on a ride one day, she’s fit and I felt like I was dying, huffing, and puffing behind her.   It knocked my confidence so that I didn’t dare attempt going out again.  And I certainly didn’t enjoy it.  Never told her that of course.

One day I was discussing it with my son and he said I should either get on and ride it or sell it and let someone else enjoy it. That was the kick I needed.   I was also nearing retirement and wanted some outdoor activities that would keep me a little bit fit.  I’m not into the gym or sports particularly so thought cycling may be ok for me.  I didn’t want to sell my bike and lose a lot of money either so I decided to make an effort to find a group to ride with.  I had no idea anything like the Forum existed. 

When I first searched, all I found were lycra clad groups of mainly men who did road cycling, at speed.  This obviously was not for me.  I was just about to give up when the Forum website popped up.  I thought it would be the same as other groups but no, it was refreshingly different.  It said it was for anyone first of all, which meant that I wouldn’t be scared to join in.  It said nobody would be left behind and that they would ride at the speed of the slowest.  They also had ‘easy’ rides for compete beginners or those returning to cycling like me who were lacking in confidence.  The website sounded like it was a lovely friendly bunch of people and I was very keen to meet them and give it a go.  So, I decided that I was going to join my first ride.

As a side note, I had joined a walking group a few months prior to this and met a couple of ladies who said they were interested in cycling too.  So I mentioned the Forum and said I was going on such and such a date and we agreed to do it together and meet there.

When it came to the day of the ride (an easy from Nostell), I really didn’t want to go, nerves took over.  Sounds silly, doesn’t it?  I think loads of people feel like this though.  It feels like climbing a mountain sometimes to do the simplest thing.  The only reason I pushed myself to go was that I had agreed to meet these two ladies.  Guess what???  They didn’t turn up!  Ha, but I did, and I have never looked back since.

The first hurdle I had to overcome was getting said bike in the car!!  I could have borrowed a Forum bike but wanted to ride my own trusty steed.  Again, this seems such a small thing to some but for me it was challenging; getting the front wheel off, lifting it in; which way to do it!  Getting it out again blah blah….  But I did it.  Patted myself on the back for that.

I met the group outside the house at Nostell and was welcomed by everyone.  I felt that I was part of the group immediately.  Everything was explained to me about where we were going, who was the ride leader and who was the back marker and what hills there were if any (just one small one) and off we set.  I was nervous that my stamina would not be up to a proper ride but I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed myself and completely forgot about stamina.  The other riders were so supportive.  Some, like me, were new so I didn’t feel at all out of place.

The wind was blowing in my hair, breeze on my face and off we went.  The ride seemed to be over in no time at all, 7 miles I think it was but to me it was like achieving 700 miles in confidence and joy.  I could have done it all again there and then. 

That was about 4 years ago.  I dipped in and out whilst still working but since I have retired, I have joined in with gusto.  I have met loads of lovely new friends and a little group of us are planning some days out and even cycling holidays.

I’ve since bought my first e-bike which has made it even more fun.  It just means that I can now ride anywhere with anyone and distance, hills etc are easy.  It’s my main hobby so why not I said to myself!!! 

I hope this encourages anyone who is thinking of having a go to do so; I’m sure you won’t regret it.  As I mentioned above, the Forum even have bikes that you can borrow at some of the meeting places.  You need to book one but it’s free so just give it a go.  Who knows where it will take you?  Next adventure, here I come.  Happy cycling to you all and thanks to all members of the Forum for all the work you do in keeping this going for the rest of us to enjoy.

Sandra Kinkead

2.   How Cycling came back into my life

It was March of 2020, after a wonderful dog walk followed by refreshments, when I met David Keighley of Wakefield District Cycle Forum stopping for the legendary café pitstop. This was the start of my cycling journey.

At nearly 50 years old and having not ridden a bike since I was a teenager, although I was enthusiastic about joining an Easy ride, I was also extremely apprehensive, with fears and doubts about whether I would indeed be able to.

My first ride was from Castleford Mill to Fairburn with ride Leaders Neville and Meg Andrews and back marker Sandy Clark. They were all very welcoming and reassuring, which helped tremendously to settle my nerves. Although I was unable to complete the full ride, I was supervised on a shorter route to wait for the rest of the group.  I received encouraging support which helped me and therefore I did not let this deter me. I have continued to ride with the group and can now in fact ace all the hills, with 100% encouragement and support from the group.

Following on from my cycling success and sharing my journey on Facebook has encouraged friends to come along with me on rides. They all started with the initial fears and now like me look forward to the next ride.

From me and the gang we would like to give a big “thank you” shout out to the team at WDCF.

Sharon Kaye.

Christmas Dinner

Having had a cycle tour to see the tulips in Holland, an anniversary meal and a 90th birthday family gathering all scuppered by Covid, I’m crossing everything in the hope that a planned Christmas Dinner/ Reunion for WDCF will go ahead.

We’ve made a reservation for a four course meal at the Kings Croft Hotel in Pontefract on Wednesday 15th December at 7 pm.  The menu, which has options to suit carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, looks very tasty and omnivores are going to be spoilt for choice.

We’ve got the room to ourselves and will be able to spread out sufficiently to keep people comfortable.  If you would like to join us  (I promise it will be more fun than the AGM!) please email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk and we’ll send you a booking form and request for a post-dated cheque for £20 to pay for the meal.

I look forward forward to seeing you all in paper hats rather than cycle helmets!

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WDCF Newsletter July 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

The Website
Breakfree
The Big Bike Ride
  – Verse
  – Feedback
Rides Resume
Cycling UK
The AGM

The Website

If you are reading this, then you have found your way to WDCF’s updated website- we hope you like it.  We haven’t produced the usual colourful rides leaflet this year, outlining the date, time and standard of all rides, but all the information about the next four months’ rides now appears on the Events and Rides pages of the website. 

We are introducing two new steady rides –one from Pugneys on the second Sunday of the month and a second from Nostell on the third Saturday.  In addition, easy rides from Thornes Park will start in July on the 3rd July at 10.30am, followed by the 7th August and the 4th of September. 

The Tuesday evening steady rides from Pontefract Park have started again, leaving at 6pm (18.00) from the Aspire Car Park on the second Tuesday. Rides starting from Anglers have been suspended for the time being but the easy rides from Nostell generally call in there if you want to visit the café or wave at the witch on her broom.

We will be adding Cafes to our Clubs and Shops pages.  If you would like to recommend a friendly supplier of hot food, who is happy to serve a collection of men and women in shorts at short notice with reasonable speed, do get in touch. Similarly, if your local cycle shop isn’t listed, let us know.

Breakfree

Open Country, a Wakefield charity based out of Thornes Park and a partner of ours, has produced its first ever Wakefield ‘Breakfree’ pack to inspire and inform people of the area’s many accessible routes. Although the pack has been launched with disabled people in mind, they are perfect for families with young kids and pushchairs, anyone who might struggle with exercise and older people with mobility problems.

The pack features 12 short trails around parks, nature reserves and reservoirs across the district including Newmillerdam, Pugneys, Walton Colliery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The individual route cards give a detailed trail description of the terrain, gates or barriers, the gradient as well as features of interest including play areas, wildlife watching opportunities and water features. The route cards also list if there is a cafe and WC facilities and whether these are accessible to all.

The pack is free to download from the website at www.opencountry.org.uk/breakfree. Groups and individuals with disabilities can also get a free printed version of the Breakfree pack by emailing wakefield@opencountry.org.uk.

Ella Dixon is Open Country’s Wild About Wakefield Project Officer and has commented: “The new Breakfree packs aim to break down some of the barriers to participation in the outdoors and demonstrate just how easy it is to access some great places on our doorstep. We’re lucky enough to have 560 kilometres of Public Rights of Way and permissive paths available to walkers and cyclists, as well as 7 country parks and 16 nature reserves. Our Breakfree packs feature the most accessible of these places, detailing everything you need to know to make an experience in the outdoors more enjoyable.”

Kathryn Mudge, Active Communities Manager at Yorkshire Sport Foundation, says: “The pandemic has widened the inequalities that already exist and it has been particularly difficult for people with disabilities or mobility issues to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits we know come with being active. As restrictions continue to ease, we hope the packs Open Country are providing will give individuals and families that opportunity to explore Wakefield and be active once again.”

Cllr Jacquie Speight, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council, is backing the Breakfree packs. According to Wakefield Council’s State of the District report published in January 2021, only 26% of adults walked for at least 10 minutes five times a week (date from 2018-19). In the same timeframe just 7% of adults said they cycled at least once a week. Nevertheless, WDCF notes that the council continues to hamper access to the countryside for all with the plethora of kissing gates and narrow ‘A’ frames that seem to sprout up like weeds without any prior consultation.

For more information about Open Country’s work across Wakefield, visit their website at  www.opencountry.org.uk/wakefield-project

The Big Bike Ride

Verse

Organising WDCF’s contribution to British Cycling’s Big Bike Ride was a bit like a swan swimming past- all calm and serene on top but paddling like mad underneath.  We thought we had it all organised, but then every email brought a new hiccup or withdrawal. It put me in mind of the Agatha Christie novel based on a children’s rhyme, now a play called ‘And then there were none’.  It didn’t get that bad, but inspired the following piece of verse:

Eight Ride Leaders had routes planned – what heaven!
One had to isolate and then there were seven.
Seven Ride Leaders and eight rides- what a fix.
One hurt his hand and then there were six.
Six Ride Leaders glad to be alive.
One’s hip went and then there were five.
Five Ride Leaders thinking, ‘We need more’.
One had visitors and then there were four.
Four Ride Leaders getting a bit deranged,
When someone said, ‘my visit’s rearranged.
Five Ride Leaders going round the bend,
When someone said, ‘I can ask a friend.’
Six Ride Leaders wondering what to do,
When someone said, ‘My ride is short- I can do two.’
Seven rides sorted but eight is what they’d like,
When someone said, ‘I’ll borrow a bike’.
So, on a beautiful sunny day
The Big Bike Ride got under way.

All rides were planned with a Ride Leader and one or more Back Markers. Although poetic license has been used and some of the incidents occurred in a different order or related to a Back Marker rather than Ride Leader, with those provisos, it’s all true. The eight rides went ahead without mishap and a good time was had by all.  We added 350 miles to the Big Bike Ride total and introduced riders to new routes or variations to old ones.

Feedback

We’ve had some lovely feedback on one of our Big Bike Rides from a former member who moved out of the area but called in on a ‘flying’ visit. Elisabeth wrote:

‘Thank you once again for allowing me to join you on your ride on 30th May.  I had a wonderful time and it brought back many fantastic memories of when I used to be able to join you on a more regular basis.  I am really happy here in Wales but I have not been able to find a wonderful cycling group similar to yours.  There are a number of clubs for more confident and able riders but nothing of a more ‘social’ nature for less confident or less able riders who want to be largely off road.  Your group is so friendly and supportive and you have such a wonderful resource in all those off-road tracks around the district.

Sunday made me reflect on what a great help your group was to me whilst I recuperated from serious ill health which is almost a decade ago now. The value of gentle exercise in beautiful surroundings, with kind people cannot be underestimated and on a practical level, being able to borrow a bike from yourselves just makes the experience so much easier when you are struggling with so many other things.  Thank you to you and your colleagues who do such a great job in running the group and keeping all the routes open, serviceable and signposted.’

Elisabeth sums up beautifully what WDCF is about and we are grateful for her support.

Rides Resume

After May, when the verges were covered in hawthorn blossom, we’re now into flaming June with swathes of dog roses and elder flowers.  I’m trying to make a note of where the latter are most profuse, so I can collect some berries for elderberry wine later in the year.  WDCF rides have now started up again enthusiastically.  As we are ‘organised rides’ and collect riders’ details for track and trace, we are allowed up to 30 people on any ride, although at café stops we still have to split into groups of no more than 6.  The weather to date (and I’m crossing fingers at this point!) has meant that sitting outside does not present a challenge.

June began with a Steady Plus ride from Darrington on Saturday 5th, with 9 riders covering 27½ miles at a cracking pace, followed more sedately by an Easy Ride from Nostell on the 6th.  The steady ride from Pugneys on the 13th June was a new venture, thoroughly enjoyed by the 9 participants, 7 of whom appear in the photo.

An Easy Ride from Thornes Park on the first Saturday of the month is another introduction, which we hope will prove popular enough to support its continuation.

Once again, we will be running our popular ‘Holiday Wednesdays’ at Nostell on 28th July and throughout August on the 4th, 11th and 18th between 11am and 3pm. There will be a Cycling Information Stand, where WDCF members will be on hand to give information, maps, leaflets and advice, our famous Cycle Skills Course, where youngsters and others can practice their cycling skills using their own bike or using one of ours and a short, guided ride in the grounds of Nostell again using either your own bike or one of ours.

We will be attending Portobello Gala in Manygates Park on Wednesday 25th August from 10am until 4pm where again we will be dusting down our Cycling Information Stand and setting up our renowned Cycle Skills Course for the delectation of avid junior riders. 

At Nostell on Sunday 29th August between 11am and 4pm, we will be holding a Cycling Fun day featuring not only a Cycling Information Stand, Cycle Skills Course and short guided ride but also a Bike Doctor.  You are invited to dust off your bike and bring it along to the event, where our Bike Doctor will give it a free bicycle safety and health check.

At all these events, volunteers are needed to help set up the stand and skills course, man both and tidy up afterwards.  It’s generally a lot of fun and a chance to meet new people and reconnect with old ones- both more important than usual after the restrictions imposed during the past 12 months or so.  If you can help, even if for only a limited period, do get in touch via info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk.

Cycling UK

WDCF has decided to become formally affiliated to Cycling UK.  This will save us over £300 for public liability insurance, whilst doubling the cover to £10,000,000.  Our rides can be publicised on their website and we will have access to their training courses.  It will, however, mean a limitation of 10 non-members on any ride in our normal rides programme and that guest riders can only attend 3 rides without becoming members of WDCF.  As life membership of WDCF costs only £5, this should not act as a deterrent, even in Yorkshire!  

The AGM- again

Corona Virus has struck the AGM again.  The proposed lifting of restrictions on the 21st of June has been postponed and the July date cannot be relied on. To ensure that as many members as wish can attend, we are moving the AGM to the 23rd September 2021.  It will be held at 7pm at a venue yet to be finalised.  We will give you plenty of notice once an agreement has been reached.  If you are coming by bike, don’t forget to bring your lights!

Apart from the usual chairman’s ‘annual’ report, covering the period since the last annual report in 2019 and the treasurer’s statement of accounts, the various officers come up for re-election or replacement. If would like to ask any questions, make any suggestions, stand for any of the posts or just want to see what everyone looks like after months of lockdown, do come along.

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WDCF Newsletter May 2021

Wakefield District Cycle Forum

Promoting and Campaigning for Cyclists


In This Edition

Rides resume
The Big Bike Ride
Workgroup Report
Campaigns Progress
– Agbrigg to Walton
– Skelton Grange
– Kissing gates, ‘A’ frames and other hindrances
– John Harvey’s Bench
Help needed
The AGM

Rides Resume

You will all be overjoyed to hear that we are resuming our guided rides programme from the 22nd May 2021.  Groups of up to 15, including the ride leaders, will be allowed but we will need track and trace information from all attending.

Cafe stops should be possible by then, which will be a relief to many and allow us to support the businesses and charities that have had such a hard time over the past year.

The first outing will be a steady ride from Queen’s Mill Castleford, starting at 10 am on the 22nd May.  From then on, there will be regular rides from Queen’s Mill, Nostell, Anglers Country Park and the Darrington Hotel.  Details of all rides appear on our website on the ‘Rides’ page, with reminders on our Facebook page nearer the time.

The Big Bike Ride

You wait months for a guided ride and then two appear at once – or is that just buses? Bike Week this year runs from the 30th May to the 5th June. The mission of Bike Week is to show people there is a bicycle for everyone and to enable all to discover a passion for cycling. 

Cycling UK believes that cycling is an incredible solution to many challenges which the UK faces.  More cycling could help fix: air pollution, obesity, poor mental health and traffic congestion.  Cycling UK  aims to help address these challenges by supporting a growing social movement, passionate about making it easier for more people to cycle.  They suggest that if you cycle regularly in adulthood, you will enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger. They recommend get active, feel the benefits and stay young.

On the 30th May 2021 they are aiming to create the world’s biggest bike ride.  Much like the Great Garden Birdwatch, individuals will participate from the comfort of their own area. WDCF is joining in the Big Bike Ride by providing multiple guided rides on the day from a number of starting points.  Our rides will begin at Queen’s Mill Castleford, Pontefract Park, Anglers, Pugneys, Thornes Park and Nostell  where we will be lending bikes and helmets out to those who need them.  Rides will start at 10.30 am and be repeated at 1 pm, with extra rides in between if staffing permits.  If you can help, please email our ride leader on: info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk.

Workgroup Report

Our workdays resumed on the 6 April, albeit on a small scale, with 5 willing workers turning up to the first session. Two of our most regular and hard-working workday volunteers, Andy and Geoff, are seen here repairing and replacing the supports that stop the Trans Pennine Trail falling into the disused Barnsley canal. Andy and Geoff have been at this task for some time and there is still much to do. 

This is not the only track in the district in need of our workday group’s attention, so if you have any suggestions of tracks you think need a little TLC then let us know. And, of course, if you want to join in with the labouring just email info@cycling-wakefield.org.uk

Campaigns Progress

Agbrigg to Walton Park Path

David Keighley of WDCF and Peter Hirst of Agbrigg and Belle Vue Community Association (ABVCA) met Councillor Matthew Morley and Graham West of WMDC to try and progress our joint scheme to create a  foot/cycle path with an all-weather surface to link Montague Street in Agbrigg with the entrance to Walton Colliery Nature Park at Oakenshaw Lane, which featured in our March newsletter.

The outcome can only be described as a triumph!

Basically the following was agreed:

  • WMDC Highways Department would no longer be involved in the project but would leave it to ABVCA/WDCF to manage the project with due consideration to the issues raised in the safety report. (One of the hazards mentioned is demonstrated in the photo below).
  • The path would not be designated as a right of way but would continue as a permissive path.
  • The path surface would be upgraded to an all-weather surface, probably using recycled road planings.
  • ABVCA/WDCF would acquire the funds and employ a contractor to complete the project.
  • The project will be subject to the approval and agreement of Countryside Service (WMDC)
  • No barriers will be erected on the path which would deter its use by cyclists or limit access to users with special needs.

Funding has now been agreed and all we are waiting for before starting work is confirmation of the agreement by letter from Councillor Morley.

Skelton Grange Road Bridge

Leeds Cycling Campaign and Wakefield District Cycle Forum have jointly written to all of the candidates standing in the West Yorkshire mayoral election requesting their support for our campaign to replace the steep and dangerous steps on the Trans-Pennine Trail and National Cycle Network route 67 on the Aire and Calder Navigation in South Leeds. 

The steps form part of the privately-owned Skelton Grange Road bridge in Stourton. The steps are currently inaccessible to large sections of the community, including wheelchair and mobility scooter users, people with physical disabilities, many older people, users of heavy e- bikes and families with buggies. 

The joint working of the two organisations on the campaign highlights the importance that both Leeds Cycling Campaign and Wakefield District Cycle Forum attach to finding a solution to this long- standing problem and our belief that it requires a West Yorkshire wide response.

A petition organised by Leeds Cycling Campaign now has over 3,000 signatures calling for action and 500 people use the area every day for commuting or leisure activities.

The path is a vital part of our regional green infrastructure, linking West Yorkshire to North Yorkshire, the Midlands and the West and East coasts.

A stakeholder group chaired by Cllr Peter Carlill from Leeds City Council, with representation from Leeds Museums, the Canal and River Trust, Sustrans, the Trans-Pennine Trail Partnership, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), Wakefield Council and the Leeds Cycling Campaign, supports a feasibility study into rerouting the existing cycling and walking path through the site of Thwaite Mills Museum. 

They point out that rerouting the path through the Museum site would create a pleasant public space, opening up an important South Leeds heritage asset to a much wider audience and linking it to other attractions such as Skelton Lake, RSPB St Aidans Nature Park, The Royal Armouries, Temple Newsam, Salts Mill and The Hepworth Wakefield.

The proposed path would provide a direct sustainable commuting and leisure route between Leeds and Wakefield. This is becoming increasingly important as large new housing development takes place on the route at Skelton Gate, Methley and at other canal-side sites.

The proposal would provide new income streams for the Museum by channelling people through the Mill site rather than away from it, as happens currently. Security would also be improved as more people use the area.

Finally, the proposal would support Leeds and Wakefield Council’s and WYCA’s declared ambitions to improve environmental sustainability, air quality, people becoming more active and wider inclusion- enabling everyone to participate in cycling and walking.

Kissing gates, ‘A’ frames and other hindrances

We asked WMDC the following series of questions about the kissing gate installed in Pontefract Park:

1. Why was this kissing-gate installed? Is it a reason specific to this location or a general departmental policy?

2. If it was specific to this location, who requested it and why?

3. Who was consulted about the installation of a new kissing gate on this cycle route?

4. What information or statistics did you have to support the decision to install a new kissing-gate?

5. What guidelines relating to cycle routes did you take into consideration?            

6. Was an Equality Impact Assessment carried out at this location, as required by the Equality Act 2010 S.149, prior to the installation of this barrier?

7. Could you please provide a copy of that Equality Impact Assessment?

8. What is the cost of this design of kissing-gate and what is the cost of installation?

We reminded them that dismounting is not an option for the majority of users of adaptive cycles, such as handcycles, trikes and so on, and requiring a dismount for users of such cycles is a contravention of EA2010 S.20(3)(4) and constitutes an act of direct discrimination under Equality Act 2010, Section 21.

To date, we have received no response.  Our complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about Wakefield City Council’s installation of obstructions on certain local cycle routes has now reached stage three of the process. The complaint has been accepted as being worthy of consideration and is now  being investigated. 

Covid 19 has not assisted the  progress of our complaint as many investigators are now working from home.  As soon as we have some news, it will be passed on.  In the meantime, able riders can easily cycle round most barriers but the less able are doubly handicapped.

John Harvey’s Bench

There are two difficulties with this project.  Firstly, we are still waiting for WMDC’s approval of the proposed site. Secondly, we have not yet raised sufficient money to pay for the splendid bench proposed.  The Go Fund Me page now has a shorter link: john-harvey and will be closing next month but if necessary we can erect a less expensive bench, along the lines of the one shown:

Help needed

We have been asked for help by Open Country, a Yorkshire charity who enable people to access and enjoy the countryside. They regularly run tandem cycling around Wakefield, on Wednesday evenings between the hours of 6pm-9pm, so that people with a disability can enjoy the countryside on wheels. They enjoy rides of 5 – 18 miles per night with refreshments on route!
Open Country need front riders, often described as pilots. No previous tandem experience is necessary as all training is given and the tandems are provided. All Tandem Club participants must have both Covid-19 vaccines before joining the rides. If you would like to be involved, ring 07426 716677 or email wakefield@opencountry.org.uk

The AGM

The provisional date for WDCF’s Annual General Meeting has been set at Thursday 15th July 2021 at  6.45 pm in Wakefield Town Hall.  We normally use the splendid Kingswood suite but social distancing requirements may mean we have to move. If you would like to hear our annual report direct from the lips of our chairman, cross examine our treasurer, suggest new routes or steps the council could take to improve cycling infrastructure, do come along.  If you would like to be more involved in the running of WDCF, the various posts are coming up for re-election so this is your chance.  If your experience of the forum has been limited to rides from Nostell, come and meet riders from Castleford and Thornes Park.  After what we hope is a unique year, it will be good to meet up again.

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