More needs to be done to promote cycling in Uttlesford to have legacy of 2014 Tour de France

The peloton reaches Saffron Walden.

The peloton reaches Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

A year on and the legacy of the Tour de France appears to have come and gone just like the cyclists, but the council say they have triumphed in promoting the sport since.

While bike groups agree the day was a hit, they argue the council needs to boost awareness for the sport rather than leaving promotion solely to them.

Simon Hotchkiss, chair of the Walden Velo, told the Reporter: “Absolutely nothing happened during National Bike Week in the district. It would have been a great chance to promote the sport, but the council did nothing.”

While club numbers are rising, many believe this is down to internal efforts. Membership at the Walden Velo is higher than most regional groups, with 143 riders, but they have to rely on flexible timetabling and varied sessions to attract members.

Uttlesford District Council, however, say they have taken an important step forward to promote cycling, with their ‘Cycling Strategy’ published online last October.

The proposal suggests contra-flow cycle lanes on one-way roads, weather-protected bike racks and routes to Great Chesterford, Newport and Thaxted, but funding such projects is an ongoing issue.

Work, however, is imminent on the new cycle path along Wenden Road to Audley End Station, and more bike racks have been installed throughout the town.

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A key concern for clubs though, is facilities for young cyclists, claiming it is they who were inspired most by the annual race. No plans, however, have been drawn for junior riders.

The Walden Tri is charged £900 to rent out space at Carver Barracks for a day and use the Friends’ School sports field when they can.

Club chairman, David Peasgood, said: “It would be great if there was a ground for young cyclists to use exclusively because it is expensive for us to rent out Carver Barracks each time.”

Liam Brooker, owner of Newdales, added: “There is definitely a young generation that have been inspired by it. Cycling is now seen as a sport you can make a living out of, not just football or rugby.

“What I would like to see is a venue where youngsters could ride that is not on the road. That would take a lot of work, but it’s a dream.”

As well as asking the council for more support, cyclists have called for road users to kick-start change in the area.

Mr Brook added: “I don’t think it’s just what the council can do, but what other road users can do. Common courtesy to cyclists, and cyclists behaving – it’s a two-way thing.”