Wednesday 30 May 2012
The economy of the Chilterns area is set for a boost as the Department for Transport has just confirmed funding of £868,000 for a major project to attract visitors to enjoy cycling breaks. Together with contributions from partners, the total project value is over £1 million.
Visitors will be encouraged to arrive by public transport at local gateway towns like Henley-on-Thames or Berkhamsted and then use bicycles to travel around the Chilterns countryside during their stay. The popular Chilterns Cycleway will be promoted because of the fantastic local leisure cycling it offers. Visitors who arrive by car will also be encouraged to leave their car at their accommodation during their stay and get around by bike.
Three particular gateway areas into the Chilterns have been selected as they all contain very good train and bus links, are on the Chilterns Cycleway route and have a good number of tourism businesses and visitor attractions. The three areas are:
Within these areas there will be investment in better signage on cycling routes, more cycle parking and bike hire facilities. Some electric bike hubs will also be created, where visitors can hire electric bikes for their stay. This will open up cycling to a wider audience and make it attractive to those who rarely get on a bike.
The Chilterns Conservation Board is a lead partner in the project, together with Wokingham Borough Council and CTC, the national cyclists' organisation. The funding has come from the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
"This is a brilliant opportunity for us to promote the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a place that’s easy to get to and to enjoy without a car," said Annette Venters, Access Officer at the Conservation Board. "The project will help the local economy by attracting more staying visitors and will also reduce car congestion and develop safer cycling networks. It's great news for visitors and great news for residents too."
A Cycling Development Officer will be employed to run the project, based at the Chilterns Conservation Board office in Chinnor. It is hoped the project will be up and running by the early autumn.