The safer cyclists and walkers route in the Churn Valley has been receiving press coverage this week.
The route – following the bridleway from Stratton to North Cerney has now featured in both the Wilts and Glos Standard and the Gloucestershire Echo.
Take a look at the coverage here:
The Churn Valley safer cycle and walkers route, which runs between Stratton and North Cerney, has been a talking point for residents this year.
Paul (right) with members of the Churn Valley cycle group at the start of the route in Bowling Green Lane
The route uses the existing bridlepath starting at Bowling Green Lane, Cirencester and running via Baunton and Perrotts Brook to North Cerney and is suitable for horses too.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson chairs the group which has been bringing the path up to the correct standard. The group has now produced a website to show residents a map of the route along with updates on progress. The group was set up in 2008 and has made great progress in updating the bridlepath.
The website is at: http://churnvalley.blogspot.com/
Paul says, “A lot of people are interested in this – I’m always being asked where the route is and what progress is being made. The public meeting we held in North Cerney to tell people what we were doing in March attracted 60 people.”
“Our next aim is to extend the route from North Cerney to Rendcomb and we are at the moment talking to the Wills estate at Rendcomb and the County Council’s rights of way officer to see how existing footpaths can be used.”
Local road safety campaign group S.A.F.E.R. (Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Roads) today worked with Gloucestershire County Council Highways Department to set up a real example of the ‘Big Community’ by bringing together a volunteer work force to cut back the excess foliage on the sharp bends in the 3/377 Leckhampton Hill road (formerly B4070) between Hartley Lane and Salterley Grange, in order to improve road-users’ visibility.
Paul (2nd right) with Ullenwood residents and Star College employees - all of whom gave their time to make the road safer for drivers.
In recent years, these bends saw numerous serious accidents, but thanks to a concerted effort by S.A.F.E.R., a number of key measures implemented by GCC Highways and a raised media profile in the Gloucestershire Echo, the last 12 months have seen a dramatic improvement.
Now, with the support of GCC Highways, the campaigners set to work to cut back the overhanging shrubbery, branches and dense undergrowth to give improved visibility across the bend and along the road from the Hartley lane junction in order that drivers can be more aware of on-coming traffic and take extra care.
“We are really pleased that the number of incidents has reduced so significantly over the last 12 months, – but we must strive to keep it that way” said Duncan McGaw, Coberley Parish Councillor and S.A.F.E.R. member. “And as we move into the winter months, we must remind drivers of the need for raised awareness and extra caution. We believe better lines-of-sight are key factors to a safer driving environment”. “S.A.F.E.R. volunteers can provide the labour to get the job done with Highways providing health and safety guidance as well as the necessary traffic management signage. A great co-operative effort!”
And Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold District Councillor and part of S.A.F.E.R. added, “From the outset, this community has been determined to see improvements in safety on this road and the fact that it has been prepared to get physically involved to achieve it, speaks volumes. I hope that drivers using this road get the message they are sending out, respect it and keep their speeds down”.
The safer cycle and walkers route between Stratton and North Cerney has been well used over the summer.
Cycling, riding and walking the route - l to r; Lois Eyre and 'Lakin', Cllr Andy Lichnowski, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Jane and Sam Wilkinson
The route, which follows the existing bridleway from Cirencester to the heart of North Cerney village, has been the focus of much activity over the last three years.
New ‘furniture’ along the route (styles and gates) along with scraping of the surface in places has resulted in a much more user-friendly route for all to use.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has led the group which has been working on the route, “It’s great to see that the route is also being used widely by horse riders and many residents locally have now been using it as a more pleasant way of getting from village to village by foot or bike.”
Cotswold District Council is consulting the public on actions that could be taken to improve the air quality at the Air Balloon Roundabout near Birdlip, and is keen to hear the views of residents, Parish Councils and other organisations about reducing pollution at the site.
Tests have shown that levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) at the busy junction exceed recommended thresholds. This prompted the Council to designate the site an Air Quality Management Area in 2008 with the aim of reducing the effect of this pollutant.
The Council is required to develop and publish an Action Plan setting out the measures that could be taken to reduce levels of NO2 at the roundabout and it is now consulting the public about the Plan over a two-month period.
Although the Council is responsible for the Action Plan, it doesn’t manage the highway network. This means that any reduction in pollution can only be achieved by other agencies including Gloucestershire County Council as the Highways Authority, the Highways Agency and Road Management Services (Gloucestershire) Ltd. Councillor Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the new Action Plan, “Residents living near the junction are concerned about the effects of pollution, and this acknowledges that actions are required to improve the situation.” Anyone interested in finding out more about this consultation can contact the Council’s Environmental Protection Team on 01285 623000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found on the Council’s website at www.cotswold.gov.uk. The consultation closes on Friday 30 September 2011.
A new project to help promote safer speeds in our villages kicks off next month.
Many residents in the Churn Valley feel strongly about the speed of traffic along our roads, especially the A435 and A436.
Now, the police have joined forces with the local community to put the spotlight on the areas where speed is still an issue.
A ‘Community Speed Watch’ meeting is to be held on Wednesday 10th August 2011 1900hrs at Elkstone Village Hall. The meeting will agree how to tackle ongoing speeding problems in the area’s ‘hot spots’.
Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the initiative, “Speeding and Road Safety comes up so often when people talk to me – it is a real concern for residents in the Churn Valley, so this new project has to be good news. Everyone is welcome to attend and make this successful.”
Residents of the Churn Valley and Stratton turned out en masse yesterday to hear about the work completed on the safercycle and walkers route.
60 people came to the North Cerney Memorial Hall to hear how a group of volunteers has been working since 2008 to provide a safer route for those on foot, bike and horse to go between Cirencester and North Cerney.
Mike Barton (standing) talks to residents at the North Cerney Memorial Hall
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson set up a team of residents, councillors and GCC/CDC officers three years ago to look at the viability of a safe route along the Churn Valley. Now, the route has been fixed as following the River Churn. Residents at the meeting heard how the volunteers have worked with landowners and the Bridleways officer at GCC, Mike Barton, to bring the existing bridlepath up to the correct standard.
Paul took residents through the ‘story’ of how the group had worked voluntarily and with a very small budget to make the project come to life, “It’s a real story of the Big Society in action. What we’ve achieved here is a safer route for people to use, replacing worn out gates, making the surface more even and clearing undergrowth. There’s still more to do, but residents left the meeting enthused about what has been done. I would like to thank the volunteers for working so well together for the good of the community.”
GCC Officer Mike Barton showed residents ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the route and maps were on hand for people to view.
Now, the next step is to find a way for the route to be extended to Rendcomb so that villagers there and College students can benefit too.
Following a serious accident on 9 March 2011 which sadly resulted in a person being taken to hospital and another accident the same evening, the Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Road (S.A.F.E.R.), set up to campaign for improved safety on the Leckhampton Hill 3/377 road, is appealing to drivers to take extra care and abide by the advisory ‘Max speed 30’ signs on the dangerous bends near Salterley Grange.
After working closely with the Highways Department and prominent coverage by the Gloucestershire Echo, S.A.F.E.R. was delighted that safety improvements were made in November 2010. These included the installation of ‘Max speed 30’ advisory signs at the north and south approaches to the ‘S’ bend and some patching to damaged areas of the road surface. Highways also relocated and improved the ‘junction ahead’ sign to the south of Hartley Lane junction.
Following this work, and despite the poor weather and road conditions over the winter months, the group has been pleased not to hear of any incidents through that period. However, in addition to the 2 accidents on Salterley bends on Wednesday 9th, it is understood there was also an incident on the previous day, 8 March, at another danger spot, the junction with Hartley Lane.
“It is very saddening that having come through some terrible winter weather without incident, we now have three in a row” commented Coberley Parish Councillor, Duncan McGaw, who lives nearby. “We really need drivers who use this road to remember the message and take great care at these potentially hazardous spots, particularly when the surface is wet – the signs are there to help make this road a safer place for them, as well as other road users.”
The S.A.F.E.R. group continues to talk with Highways for a review of the road surface and camber on the bends. “It’s a narrow carriageway and a very sharp bend, – the surface needs to be as skid-resistant as possible and the camber needs adjustment to help drivers keep to their own side better” said Cotswold District Councillor (Churn Valley Ward) Paul Hodgkinson. “We do appreciate the financial pressures on the Council, but we must work together to find a cost-effective solution that will address this problem.”