Christmas Festivities 2021
A New Survey
Agbrigg to Walton route
John Harvey’s bench
Looking back to 2011
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.
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!
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.
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.
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com and I’ll add you to my list.
Andy Beecroft Workgroup Manager
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.
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.