‘It’s excellent to see more people using the county’s off-road walking and cycle trails’ - Stuart Hughes

Enjoying the Exe Estuary Trail on two wheels

Enjoying the Exe Estuary Trail on two wheels - Credit: Devon County Council

Devon County councillor Stuart Hughes writes for the Midweek Herald.

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife

Stuart Hughes. Ref shs 22 18TI 4996. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

One thing we’ve seen as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 is an increased use of our walking and cycling trails.

Compared with last year, the number of cycle trips in 2020 has increased by 153% on the Exe Estuary Trail between Exmouth and Lympstone, 63% at Dawlish Warren, 36% at Meldon Viaduct, 53% on the rural sections of the Tarka Trail and 43% at Fremington Quay near Barnstaple.

It’s excellent to see more people using the county’s off-road walking and cycle trails and the paths provide a great opportunity for people to get outdoors and boost health and wellbeing.

But it’s important that people make sure they give each other plenty of room. Providing others with a bit more time and extra space can help everyone enjoy themselves while they’re out and about.

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The county council would just ask everyone to be alert, be patient and be courteous to each other and take on board the advice given in its “Share the Space” campaign which includes:

•Cyclists are asked to please pass walkers slowly and carefully, letting people know you’re there and giving them space

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•Dog walkers on shared paths are asked to keep dogs under close control on a short lead;

•Pedestrians are asked to check for traffic if they are stepping into the road to maintain a social distance

•Drivers and motorcyclists are asked to be considerate and to give vulnerable road users such as cyclists and horse-riders extra space (two metres if possible) when passing them. Also be aware of the possibility of pedestrians stepping into the road for social distancing.

Of course, one of the big disappointments this year was the cancellation of Stage 2 of the Tour of Britain however, the event will go ahead in 2021 on Monday 6 September with a 185-kilometre (115 mile) route between Sherford and Exeter in what will be the twelfth stage to have been hosted by Devon since 2008.

A typically hilly Devon stage, including 3,500 metres of ascent, will visit the South Hams for the first time since 2012, combining the beautiful south Devon coast with the testing climbs of Dartmoor, before a finish on Queen Street in Exeter city centre.

The final categorised climb will be between Postbridge and the famous Warren House Inn, one of the most famous locations on Dartmoor and at 434m (1,425ft) above sea level the highest inn in southern England. The pub’s fire has famously been burning since 1845.

Over the previous eleven years that Devon has featured in the Tour of Britain, more than 1.7 million people have lined up to watch the stages, generating more than £41 million in net economic impact for the local economy.

The 2021 Tour of Britain is due to take place between Sunday 5 and Sunday 13 September 2021, starting from Penzance in Cornwall and finishing in the city of Aberdeen.

So, let’s hope that even more residents will be inspired to take to two wheels and, if you have a bike lurking in your shed, get it out, dust it off, check the tyres and brakes and remember Devon also offers adult cycle confidence sessions via a free two hour 1:1 cycle confidence session.

The sessions can be split into 2 x 1 hour if that suits you and, if a friend or colleague wishes to participate, then they just need to make a note on the booking form. Book a session if you want to:

•Learn to ride a bike

•Improve on the skills you already have

•Help you get back into cycling again

•Start cycling to work or place of study

•Get tips for riding as a family

•Gain advice on suitable routes

The sessions are completely tailored to your requirement and the instructor can meet you at a location near where you live or work. You can also request an instructor of the same sex, if you prefer.

For further information https://www.traveldevon.info/cycle/cycle-training/adults/.

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