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Challenge for Cycling - the enemy within

On the 24th September 2007, Denbighshire CC, with the endorsement of its next door neighbour Conwy, organised an innovative event along the North Wales coast to encourage people to get on their bikes. The underlying message is 'get cycling - get healthy'.

Green distance markers were set along the National Cycle Route 5 between Prestatyn and Llandudno to let participants know how far they had cycled. Between Prestatyn and the outskirts of Llandudno - the distance is approximately 20 miles. Apart from very short stretches, this is a traffic-free route attracting many newcomers to cycling.

But at Llandudno the authorised route comes to an abrupt halt on the outskirts of the town - at the end of its wide promenade, leaving over a mile to the pivotal centre of the town at Prince Edward's Square. The square provides access to most public services, including visitor accommodation and the Great Orme. For anyone cycling in or out of the town from that point, there are two alternatives if aiming for the National Cycle Route at Colwyn Bay - ride along the section of road called North Shore Parade which CTC Cymru has formally warned the highway authority falls well short of a safe design standard, or cycle along the promenade. The promenade has a byelaw which forbids cycling, and is owned by Mostyn Estates.

In fairness to Mostyn Estates, it is not opposed to prom cycling in principle. At a meeting with CTC Cymru representatives it indicated it had 'no problem' (sic) with the CTC Cymru prom proposals, but subsequently appears to have been misdirected, and has got itself pinned in a corner by a caucus of local councillors who see cycling as a threat to the traditional image of the town - geared to the sedate elderly wheelchair-bound tourism market.

So what we have is a cycling initiative to combat health problems associated with lack of exercise such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but where the local authority, Conwy CBC, and Mostyn Estates collude to exclude Llandudno's citizens and visitors from the initiative of which they are a partner.

This poses the question - Where is the greatest challenge to cycling?

In our view the challenge is not persuading people to want to ride a bike - that's the least of the problem: its getting this local authority to challenge the enemy within its own ranks.

The following email was received the same day as the Cycle Challenge event

Whilst out cycling today( 22 09 07) from Prestatyn to Llandudno along the sea front I was staggered to be told that cycling along the promenade at Llandudno is prohibited by law.

Upon my pointing out to the officious body proffering this advice that this was my preferred option on grounds of safety, I was informed that this prohibition is in place at the behest of the Mostyn Estates who would, it appears, prefer cyclists to risk their necks along the seafront road rather than cycle safely down the empty promenade.

I was somewhat taken aback to be told that the latter is the preferred option, presumably insisted upon by people who do not cycle. Are you aware of this? If so, can you let me know if indeed the Mostyn Estate are responsible. I wish to take the matter further.

The Cycling Ban is being widely ignored - increasingly and justifiably so. We would like to hear of your experience - in confidence if requested.

Meanwhile, the three visiting couples illustrated below (strangers to each other - from Liverpool, Coventry, and Birmingham ), ignored the ban and cycled along the prom during a single 20 minute period. They found it beyond belief that cycling was banned. As indeed did the young couple with an infant, who brought their bikes with them from Gothenberg, Sweden, only to be deeply frustrated that they were unable to cycle safely to Colwyn Bay from their Llandudno seaside guesthouse.

Merseyside couple about to cycle to the pier along the promenade

Merseyside couple about to cycle to the pier along the promenade


Coventry and Birmingham visitors stop for a chat on the promenade

Coventry & Birmingham visitors stop for a chat on the promenade


Coventry visitors head for the pier and their guesthouse

Coventry visitors head for the pier and their guesthouse


Grazyna Magnus and Marcus Soderbom from Gothemberg - disappointed

Grazyna Magnus & Marcus Söderbom from Gothenberg - disappointed