Since its formation in 1999, the Ledbury Area Cycle Forum (LACF) has worked to promote cycling through regular campaigning and comment on planning proposals, as well as organising local community events and projects.
LACF has developed good relations with the Council’s Planning Department and Active Travel Team. Its first significant project was to secure the network of off-road pathways through Ledbury’s New Mills estate that connect to the primary school and town centre amenities, and the installation of cycle parking at key destinations. To future-proof active travel choices it responds to planning applications, both to promote safe routes and to require residential cycle storage and destination parking. This work is all the more relevant following the Council’s Climate Emergency policy declaration and in the light of growing electric bike ownership and the increase in cycling during 2020 when vehicle traffic reduced during lockdowns.
LACF events have included Bike Week Breakfasts at John Masefield High School, sponsored bike rides, mountain bike challenges, a promotional stand at the annual Ledbury Community Day and Dr Bike sessions under the Market House.
LACF’s two regular community bike rides are very popular: the Poetry Festival Bike Ride in July and the Big Apple Bike Ride in October. Both are short enough and offer a ‘relaxed’ pace option in order to attract occasional or lapsed cyclists to come along and be reminded of the fun and practicality of cycling. LACF liaises with other local cycling groups to support their events and promotional work.
LACF’s website aims to promote cycle tourism. https://www.comecyclingledbury.com This lists public transport links to Ledbury, accommodation providers in the area, cycle shops, bike hire, places of interest and village pubs, cafés and shops. It offers on-line sales of the Cycle Forum’s portfolio of 11 cycle maps that follow quiet country lanes or off-road routes. LACF maintains the signs along the popular Ledbury Loop cycle route.
In spring 2018 the Cycle Forum, funded by grants from several local organisations, donated 7 balance bikes to each of the 9 primary schools in the Ledbury area. As well as being very popular during free play, teachers introduced cycling skills into PE lessons. They noted that apprehensive children developed impressive self-confidence on the bikes which then extended to other aspects of school life. Many rural children do not learn to ride a bike because they have nowhere safe to practise near home. This is thought to be why increasing numbers of year 6 children are not participating in Bikeability sessions (formerly Cycling Proficiency) before they leave primary school. The balance bike project will help to address this problem. As communities become increasingly cycle-friendly in future decades, cycling will become an essential life skill.
At the end of 2018 the Cycle Forum joined the established Malvern Hills Car Club’s electric bike loan scheme. The grant-funded Ledbury e-bike has been in constant use, borrowed for 2-week periods by individuals keen to see how an e-bike will suit their travel needs. Many go on to buy their own e-bike and reduce their car-dependency significantly.
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