Hayling Islander article January 2019

This is the article we submitted for the January edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander. Also, depending on the timing of the Infrastructure report’s publication and the Hayling Islander deadlines, we might make some last-minute changes.

Made any New Year revolutions yet? No, that’s not a mis-print, I’m talking about pedal revolutions on your bike. I’ll be regretting all those mince pies, and looking gingerly at the weighing machine. Exercise is the best medicine.

New Year’s a great time to challenge yourself to do something positive. Why not resolve to enhance your health, your wealth and our island environment – by cycling more in 2019?

The Cycle Hayling website has a great cycle map to download, as does Havant Borough Council.

Already cycling – why not step up a gear? If you’re an occasional cyclist, step up to once a week. If you’re a weekend cyclist, try during the week. Why not try cycling to the shops, or to work, or to the pub? No waiting for buses, no traffic queues, no parking charges, no fuel bill – unless you count cakes as fuel!

Cycling is better for you, and for the environment, and often quicker, once you get organised. Try riding with a group. Portsmouth CTC is a very friendly club, at touring speeds, not racing. They run several, great and varied rides every week from The Spring in Havant.

Or right here on the island, the U3A has social rides on the first Tuesday of each month.

Why not plan a cycling holiday, perhaps even the Hayling Cycle Ride to Chartres and Bayeux in July?

Bike in storage? It’s a great time to get it out and working again. It might only need a loving wipe over with a clean rag, a squirt of oil, and air in the tyres.

There’s plenty of advice on the web, or on our Cycle Hayling website. If you’re not sure it’s safe, do take it to a bike shop – Hayling Cycles in Elm Grove will service it from £15, or there are more on the mainland.

No bike? January and February are great for bike discounts, new or second hand, as people spring clean and clear-out.  If you’re not sure what you need, why not borrow or hire, or buy cheaper or second hand to help you decide?

You don’t get many car journeys for the price of a bike. Bikes come in many styles and sizes – good advice is much easier to come by these days; the web, the Cycle Hayling website or bike shops are good places to start.

Safety and equipment. Cycling is statistically safer than gardening or DIY. And it’s great exercise for the lungs, the heart, the circulation, the legs and for core strength.

Cycling is around 20 times as likely to benefit you as harm you. The biggest killer in this country, around 80,000 deaths a year, is from inactivity.

Nevertheless, we always recommend wearing a helmet – they are all tested to the same standard so you don’t need to spend a lot.

Nervous? Start on quiet back streets, or quiet car parks, or at Beachlands. Most motorists on the island are very considerate to cyclists if you’re considerate to them. It’s often more fun to start again with a cycling group or friend. And reward yourself with a coffee and a cake at one of our great tea rooms!

North-South Cycle Link – Haylink. Hayling is cut in two for cycling. The south of the island is slowly getting better, with the beach cycle route, lots of quieter roads, and an increasing number of cycle paths.

From the bridge right into the centre of Havant is a delightful, smooth, all-weather Billy Trail.

But between the two is a nightmare! We desperately need a good way to cycle from the Lidl roundabout to the bridge.

Without busy roads, without risking life and limb, without getting covered in mud. An everyday cycle path good enough for commuters, our kids and grandparents, and everyone in between.

Cycle Hayling is calling for a proper, direct, North-South Cycle Link. Haylink, for short.

The Billy Trail is a huge detour, and even with a good surface, we are doubtful that it would meet all the island’s needs.

By the time you read this, we should have the Hayling Infrastructure Report. Any consultation period is likely to be short, so please check how it supports cycling and respond.

And particularly, how it will deliver Haylink.

Cycle Hayling hits 300 signed up supporters! Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling. If you want better cycling on Hayling, please sign up now, it’s free!

Have a Happy New Year, and happy cycling.

See our website: CycleHayling.org.uk.  And for rides: PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Hayling Islander article December 2018

This is the article we submitted for the December edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

We were saddened by the death of Tony Higham, a long term supporter of HIRA, Hayling and of Cycle Hayling. His knowledge, quiet tenacity and engineering skills were at the heart of the crusade to protect Hayling from being over-run by commercial and house-building pressures. Our thoughts are with his family.

Tony’s traffic modeling provided key inputs to the Hayling Infrastructure Report, due to be published in mid-December. It’s a tragedy that he did not live to see it published, and it is up to all of us to make sure that his work lives on.

The Infrastructure Report will affect you, whether you’re a cyclist, a walker, a lover of nature, worried about the environment and climate change, or just someone who cares about Hayling, and preserving it’s unique semi-rural character.

Cycle Hayling will be judging it against cycling, and particularly, how it delivers Haylink, the Hayling North-South Cycle Link: a safe, child-friendly, all-weather cycle route from the Mill Rythe School roundabout to the bridge, without big detours, and avoiding the busy main road.

As part of national Road Safety Week, the Cycling and Walking Minister, Jesse Norman, has announced a 2 year action plan to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians, including a long-awaited review of the Highway Code. I hadn’t realized that 5 times more pedestrians are killed on Britain’s roads than cyclists – you don’t hear about them, do you?

It’s part of a bigger program to improve air quality, encourage healthy exercise, reduce obesity and boost high streets and economic productivity.

We’re all for that, and especially, the encouragement for councils to spend 15% of their transport budget on walking and cycling.

Cycle Hayling is making steady progress with our Denhill Close project. We’re upgrading the public footpath from Denhill Close to the Billy Trail to be a full cycle path. It will join up with the east-west cycle path the council is building from St Mary’s Church to Manor Rd.

At the moment, you’d have to ride on busy West Lane or Manor Rd, so it will be a lot safer and more pleasant, as well as cutting a mile or more off some journeys. Cyclists don’t like detours!

We have some Christmas present ideas for cyclists, from £1 upwards!

Hayling Cycles in Elm Grove do good offers, advice, and bike maintenance. Places like Hayling Hardware, Tesco and Wilko offer great value, Aldi do special offers, and there’s Halfords and Evans, or online.

A bell starts at £1, and pedestrians and dog walkers will thank you.

Be safe, be seen, and be warm, with hi-vis clothing and lights. Hi-vis velcro ankle straps start at a couple of pounds, while a hi-vis gilet or rucksack cover can be not much more.

We love head torches, and USB rechargeable LED lights, slow flashing for better visibility and battery life. I’ve seen them from £1.50, but £10 to £15 might be a better quality.

Keep them charged up, like your phone, so they’re always ready.

Look for ones with rubber straps, for instant fitting and removing.

A puncture repair kit, a cyclist’s multi-tool, or even spare inner tubes are good stocking presents. Modern tiny hand pumps are good to carry with you, but for home use, you can’t beat a track pump with a pressure gauge.

Keep warm and dry with hi-vis gloves and a cycling rain jacket. Fully breathable GoreTex jackets are great, but for everyday cycling up to 3 or 4 miles, semi-breathable jackets will do the job for much less. Tiny pack-away jackets are great to throw in your pocket in case of rain.

A cable combination lock is good for quick locking in safer places. If your bike is valuable, or you need to leave it in dodgier places, we’d suggest a D-lock of a good brand, rated ‘sold secure’ gold or silver.

Having both lets you loop the cable through wheels, or attach to bigger anchor points, such as fences or trees. If they clip to the bike you can’t forget them.

New bikes have never been better value. For everyday cycling on a flat island, a cheaper bike will get you there almost as fast, with less worry about it being stolen.

Why not a folding bike for commuting or if you’re short of storage space? It could pay for itself in no time. Decathlon folders offer fantastic value, starting from £139. In the £400+ range, Tern and Dahon have a good reputation.

But for commuting and brilliant folding, you can’t beat Brompton; they’re expensive, but they hold their value very well.

Christmas and New Year are quiet on the roads, so it’s a great time for a ride with family and friends, try your presents out and burn off all that Christmas pudding. Have a merry Christmas.

More on our website: CycleHayling.org.uk. And for rides: PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling – please sign up for free.

Hayling needs Haylink…

… a safe, child-friendly, all-weather cycle route to the bridge.

This is the article we submitted for the November edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

You may have seen the road works in Langstone alongside the main road. Havant and Hampshire councils are building a shared path to allow cyclists to ride safely between the Billy Trail at Mill Lane and the Langbrook Restaurant. The next phase will link all the way to Tesco and beyond.

And you’ll soon see the councils starting a weather-proof route across Hayling’s Legion Field to Mengham Junior School. No more muddy boots!

They’re both good progress, but I want to talk about one of Hayling’s biggest projects ever. The Hayling Billy railway was a major transport link onto Hayling for almost 100 years. Then it degenerated into pretty well a ploughed field, all but impassable in winter, even by walkers.

In 1984, the Havant and District Safe Cycling Campaign was formed, and asked the nascent Sustrans (the SUSTainable TRANSport charity) to design a continuous cycle route along it, all the way from Havant to the sea front at Hayling.

It was an impossibly ambitious, massive and controversial project at the time. It took years of hard work to complete. But the result was the fabulous Hayling Billy Trail – and where would we be without it? As the main road gets busier and busier, the Billy Trail is our only non-road link to Havant, and one of Hayling’s major leisure attractions.

It’s not perfect though. It’s at serious risk of being swept into the sea, and the cycling surface has deteriorated so badly since it was laid that it’s pretty well impassable for people who need to get to work, or to the shops, all year-round, in any weather, without getting filthy.

But more important, it only goes to the west end of the island. That’s not where most of our 17,500 people live. Or where the schools are, or the doctors, or the shops. For anyone to the east side of the island, it’s a huge detour. Cyclists don’t do detours.

The sad reality is that most of the south of the island is still cut off from the north, and from the bridge. Riding a bike from the Mill Rythe School roundabout to the bridge is a nightmare.

Only the bravest cyclists are happy to cycle down the main road, through the ‘S’ bends, or on West Lane. And motorists don’t want them on the road either.

So Cycle Hayling says it’s time for another Hayling Billy Trail moment. Time for Hayling to take the next ambitious leap:

Haylink: The Hayling North-South Cycle Link. A safe, child-friendly, all-weather cycle route from the Mill Rythe School roundabout to the bridge, without big detours, and avoiding the busy main road.

Imagine what a difference that would make! Two miles of safe, pleasant, flat cycling to the bridge – a single, joined-up route connecting south Hayling to the bridge and on to the easy, safe Langstone section of the Billy Trail into Havant. Just like they have all over Holland, Denmark, Germany and France.

Any islander, even children, could easily cycle to Havant. Workers, shoppers, train commuters, our kids to Havant College, or just for leisure. Even children. All getting healthy exercise and eliminating the traffic and pollution of cars. And with the Billy Trail, it would make a perfect leisure loop around the island, for anyone, of any cycling ability.

Hayling needs Haylink – but how can we get it? It’s catch-22. It’s unlikely we’d get all the money in one go, so we need a design that we can execute in stages, as money becomes available. And we can’t create a good route and a detailed design without investing some money.

So Cycle Hayling has applied for CIL funding for a professional Feasibility Study to design one, like the Sustrans design that led to the original Billy Trail. (CIL is the Community Infrastructure Levy, paid by new house builds). The bid includes surveying the public to find out what they would like, and what would persuade them to use it.

It might not be a short term project, but the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll finish. And a professional Feasibility Study is the right start. We haven’t specified a route – that’s for the professionals to help us with.

Councillors start voting on which CIL projects to support over the next few weeks. A North-South Cycle Link would make a massive and long term difference to Hayling, to traffic, pollution, and to our health.

Hayling needs Haylink – please lobby your councillors to support it!

Hayling Islander article October 2018

This is the article we submitted for the October edition of the Hayling Islander. 

Fancy an electrifying experience!

Wilf asks if an e-bike might help you get bitten by the cycling bug

E-bikes have come of age. 

I just tested one of the latest models, a Kalkhoff Sahel, and it was, well, electrifying. And a lot of fun. We see more and more of them, especially from Germany and Holland.

Purists often say it’s cheating, and less exercise. But you might find you actually get more exercise, not less, because e-bikes tend to get used more often, and they’re a bit heavier when you’re saving the battery. You still get the health benefits, because you still have to pedal (that’s why they’re called pedelecs). They just detect when you’re pedaling, and amplify your leg power to help you go faster.

So they’re great for smoothing out hills, or against a headwind on the sea front or the Billy Trail. Or getting somewhere fast, but staying cool. Or for keeping up with someone who’s a bit too fast for you. Or for people with health problems.

Portsmouth CTC has members in their 80’s who now use e-bikes to get up the hills, so they can still join us on 40 and 50 mile rides. Even mountain bikers have caught on. They say skiers get an electric lift to the hilltop – why shouldn’t they?

Commuters and everyday utility cyclists find they’re comfortable to go about twice as far on an e-bike, making all sorts of new journeys possible. And that includes pubs – you can drink and drive (responsibly, of course!). Per mile, they’re at least 3 to 5 times cheaper than buses or trains, and 5 to 12 times cheaper than cars. Not quite as cheap as pure pedal power, but the most energy efficient form of powered travel, equivalent to a car doing 1,000 to 2,000 mpg. The actual electricity cost is negligible.

But they’re still just bicycles in the eyes of the law, so you’re exempted from tax, MOT, driving licence, and insurance (although insurance is still a good idea). And you’re allowed to ride on cycle paths and anywhere a normal bike can. That exemption only applies if you’re 14 or older, the motor power is 250 watts or less, and power cuts out above 15.5 mph. You can go faster, but you have to do all the work.

Be wary of more powerful models – they’re legally motor vehicles, so are not exempted. The law is unclear about models with twist-grip power control, but we’ve never heard of anyone being prosecuted.

So why isn’t every bike an e-bike?

Well, they add £300 to £1,000 to the new price, and they’re heavier, with more to go wrong. Lithium batteries might need replacing every 2 or 3 years if used daily and heavily. But they can last much longer if you buy trusted makes, and use more leg power.

Not all e-bikes are equal. Cheaper models have often had reliability problems, especially with batteries, which are expensive, and few of them have really succeeded in delivering power smoothly in line with pedal pressure. It can be very disconcerting to stop pedaling at a junction, but find the power carries on for a second or two. And even more disconcerting if it goes wrong and you can’t buy spares.

Most e-bikes extend the battery range by letting you switch between high power for hills, medium for general use, eco low power, or off, where you don’t use the battery at all.

There are dozens of kits to convert an existing bike, but I would caution against it unless you’re an enthusiast and pretty technical, especially if you need it to be reliable, e.g. to get to work. Most kits have dubious origins, which brings issues with quality, repairs and spares.

Some use front wheel drive, which can cause front fork failure unless strengthened. Others power the rear wheel, making it back heavy. But the ideal place for motor and battery is the centre, using a crank-drive, which is much harder to retrofit to an existing bike.

Designing the best features into a new bike is much easier. The premium makes, mostly German, generally have smoother power, better controls, longer and more predictable battery range and life, and better reliability and maintainability. They sound expensive, but people often sell them years later at close to what they paid for them. Remember the old saying ‘buy cheap, buy often’.

My tips:

  • Look up AtoB.org.uk for the best advice. They don’t sell bikes, so you can really trust their independence.
  • Choose a dealer who has a track record in quality e-bikes.
  • Test ride a premium brand before parting with your cash on a cheaper model.
  • Get a proper fitting and a test ride. You must be comfortable to ride it.
  • Aim for a battery with twice the range of your longest journey.
  • Make sure the battery is locked in, so only you can remove it (for charging, to lighten the bike for lifting, and to make it less attractive to thieves).
  • Check the charger is easily portable, so you can charge en route.
  • Insist on at least 2 years warranty, especially for the battery. A warranty is only as good as the company providing it. If they go out of business, it’s worthless.
  • Check you can get long term servicing and replacement parts.
  • Don’t forget a good lock!

E-bikes aren’t instead of normal bikes, they’re instead of NOT CYCLING!

Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.
Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling – please sign up for free.

Hayling Islander article September 2018

This is the article we submitted to the Hayling Islander for September 2018

Get into the habit of everyday riding!

Thanks to everyone who visited our cycling stand at August’s 3 Churches Fete. I hope you noticed our new banners! And congratulations to the winners of our 60 second turbo-challenge, who won prizes, including our new Cycle Hayling hi-vis slap wraps!

We have a dual mission at these stands:

  • Riding – as Portsmouth CTC/Cycling UK, on our regular guided rides from Havant.
  • Campaigning – as Cycle Hayling, for better cycle paths to make Hayling the everyday cycling paradise it should be.

Haven’t we had a fantastic summer?  If you’re not already using your bike for everyday cycling, now’s the perfect time.

So what is everyday cycling (or utility cycling)?

It’s using a bike for journeys that would otherwise need a car, or a bus, or a taxi, or a long walk. To the shops, school, work, the library, the doctor – anywhere within your cycling range.

If you can make that a habit, it’ll be great for your health, wealth and happiness, and for the environment.

  • Health – because cycling is great exercise for your heart, lungs, legs, core body, and surprisingly for your brain. And it’s non-impacting, so kind on your joints.  Regular cyclists have the health of someone ten years younger, on average.  And despite what the papers would have you believe, it’s statistically safer than gardening and DIY.
  • Wealth – because cycling is the cheapest form of transport after walking.
  • Cars feel ‘free’, but every mile is one mile closer to your next fill-up, service, set of tyres, fault, your next bump/insurance claim, and your next car.  You’ll be doing well if your true cost is much under 30p a mile, even after you’ve bought, insured and taxed it.
    So ‘popping in to Havant’ might easily cost a fiver.
    And try servicing it for £15 – that’s the basic price at Hayling Cycles (excluding any new parts)!
  • Happiness – because it’s just so satisfying to power your own journey, door-to-door, at your own speed, in your own time.
  • Environment – no air pollution, no CO2, no noise, no traffic jams, and a tenth of a car’s road space and parking.

You don’t need a fancy bike – anything will do in a place as flat as Hayling! In fact, the cheaper it is, the less interest to thieves.

If you haven’t got a bike, see if you can borrow one from the 49% of households that do.

Check it over with brilliant Bikeability ABCD checklist

  • Air in tyres;
  • Brakes working, Bars tight;
  • Chain oiled, gears working;
  • Dangerous and Dangley bits tidied up.

If you have any problems, Hayling Cycles can fix them (no connection with Cycle Hayling, by the way). But doing it yourself is easy with the internet.

Some tips:

  • Plan your route, away from busy roads where you can.  CycleHayling.org.uk has a great cycle map to download.
  • And don’t forget to lock it up.  A simple coiled combination lock will prevent 90% of thefts, unless your bike is expensive.
  • Not needed for short journeys, but on longer journeys, a pump, a tiny toolkit including puncture repair kit and a spare inner tube are good insurance.
  • Carrying stuff is simplest with a rucksack – it works on any bike.  A back rack can carry up to 15 or 20 kgs, directly with bungies, or in panniers. Or you can fit a front basket to most bikes.
  • So why not just give it a go? Just as the first minute of every ride seems the hardest, getting out on the first ride is hardest of all. It will all be downhill after that, even on Hayling!

Enjoy your riding! Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling – please visit cyclehayling.org.uk and sign up.

Riding for better cycling routes

This is the article we submitted for the August edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Well done to everyone on the 33rd Hayling cycle ride to Versailles, through beautiful northern France – both riders and support. Another great one, I hear. Why not subscribe to their newsletter to find out about the 34th in 2019. It’s at haylingcycleride.org.uk. Who knows, you might be tempted!

But you don’t need to go that far to cycle in beautiful countryside. Right on our doorstep in Havant, we have one of the best touring clubs in the country. Portsmouth CTC leads 6 to 8 rides a week during the summer, for varying abilities, speeds and distances. And they’re free to members of Cycling UK, the cycling charity.

Closer to home, Cycle Hayling had its own celebration social ride on the evening of Friday 27th July, riding around in a figure of eight round the island. Our goals were to preview the Council’s planned improvements, chat about future ones, and celebrate cycling on Hayling.

Appropriately, we finished in the Ferry Boat pub, so we could toast the revitalised ferry!

These improvements are the culmination of years of hard work by Cycle Hayling, Havant and Hampshire Councils, our councillors and others. So it’s frustrating to hear that they’ve been delayed yet again – from starting in spring, then summer, and now autumn, partly waiting for landowner permissions.

They’ve been ‘within the next few months’ for a long time now. We need the council to finish these so we can move on – there’s so much more to do. We badly need more cycle paths and quiet routes all over the island, where children and adults can be protected from traffic, and gain confidence.

And most of all, we need a good direct north/south route. We’re stuck with a narrow, busy main road from the roundabout at Mill Rythe School to the Yew Tree Inn, completely unacceptable for children or the less confident.

The Billy Trail is too far out of the way and its surface is rough and hopeless in wet weather. We need a route from Mengham to the bridge which is direct, safe, clean and pleasant to ride.

If you missed our ride, do come and visit our stand at the 3 Churches Fete on Wednesday the 8th August. See how fast you can cycle in 1 minute and win one of our new slap wraps! Or just come along and chat about what we’re doing.

And Cycle Hayling is re-launching and re-doubling our efforts with two enthusiastic new committee members. If you have ideas for improvements, or want to help, please contact us, in person or through cycleHayling.org.uk.

Safe, traffic-free cycle paths help us be more comfortable mentally, but many people tell us they would cycle more if it was more comfortable physically. So we’ve compiled a few tips below.

  • Tip 1: Take advice. Good bike shops know their stuff and are keen to have a happy customer. And most cyclists love sharing advice.
  • Tip 2: Ride a bike that fits you. New bikes come in different sizes and different riding positions. You can nearly always adjust things to fit you better. Seats can go up and down, and forward and backward. Handlebars can too, although you might need to change the stem or bar.
  • Tip 3: Get a saddle that fits you. Just as people and bottoms come in different shapes and sizes, so do saddles. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are saddles specifically designed for women. Your sit bones support your weight, so you need to find one that fits them. Too much padding can be as bad as too little. Many cycle shops will let you try before you buy.
  • Tip 4: Practice makes perfect. Your first ride for a while might feel strange, so find a quiet place for a gentle first ride and gradually build up, perhaps distance, speed and maybe hills.
  • Tip 5: Ride regularly. Your body and your brain are surprisingly adaptable – the more you ride, the easier and more enjoyable it gets, and the fitter you will be.
  • Tip 6: Get a mirror. Knowing what’s behind you is a big comfort. I love my helmet mirror, but if you wear strong glasses, that might not work so well, so a mirror on the bike might be better.
  • Tip 7: Learn simple bike maintenance. It’s surprisingly easy to pump up tyres, adjust brakes and gears and check for loose bolts. The internet is your friend! Keeping your bike in tune keeps you in tune with your bike.
  • Tip 8: ABCD checklist before you ride! (Air in tyres; Brakes working/Bars tight; Chain oiled; Dangley bits tidied up).

Enjoy your riding! Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Cycle Hayling is a volunteer community group to encourage cycling and better facilities on Hayling – please sign up.

You’ll learn to love those big hills

This is the article we submitted for the July edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Thank you to everyone at the Donkey Derby who popped in to the Cycle Hayling & Portsmouth CTC stand. Lots of you tested how far you could cycle in 1 minute on our turbo challenge, and we had some amazing efforts, especially from kids. Aren’t they competitive! Several adults were off the top of our scoreboard, at well over 40 mph simulated speed. When we asked how they were so fit, they all said ‘cycling to work’.

Not that we had any problem getting to sleep that night, but many people do, and cycling is helping. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked some of them to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. On average, they fell asleep in about half the time, and slept almost an hour longer and more deeply.

Did you see in The News recently the debate about a cycle helmet law? While we strongly recommend cycle helmets, especially for children, we’re against forcing them by law. Sounds crazy – so why? Because everywhere it’s been tried, it has put people off and cut cycling by 30-40%, making many people less active, with little improvement on head injuries. Thousands and thousands more people will die from inactivity than could ever be saved by cycle helmets. More details at CyclingUK.org/helmets.

Cycle Hayling has just been reviewing the plans for Hayling cycling improvements with the council. Hampshire County Council has the overall responsibility and the money, but they delegate the work to Havant Borough, who have better local knowledge. Overall, two heads are better than one, so we get a better solution, but the additional delays are frustrating, and it’s slipped again.

But before autumn, Legion Field should have a tarmac path from Elm Grove to Mengham Junior School, the play area and across to Hawthorn Grove. It’s currently planned at 2 metres wide, and we hope the council will be able to find the extra money to make it 2.5 metres, to give more room for pedestrians and cyclists to share safely.

Hayling Park will also get wider paths to encourage safe sharing. Part of the delay has been the need to protect the roots of our beautiful park trees, so the council is experimenting with new materials.

Both of these will make vital training grounds for new cyclists, especially children, but adults too. Not only do they provide safe ‘a to b’ routes away from busy roads, but they provide a place to practice riding and build up confidence. As always, we need to respect other path users – ‘Share with Care’ as I saw on a sign recently.

Many more improvements for cycling and walking are in the pipeline, although some of them are waiting for landowner approval, and in some cases, money. Watch this space!

Do hills put you off cycling? Well we gave our Cathedral Challenge riders 13 helpful tips, and feedback has been positive. For example, ‘build up your strength and fitness’, ‘slow and steady’, ‘get to know your gears’, etc. You can see the full set at https://www.portsmouthctc.org.uk/tackling-hills/. You might even get to enjoy them. Every hill that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger for the next one.

My personal favourite tip isn’t on the list – breaking hills down into smaller challenges, such as the next lamp post, next tree, next corner. As you do each one, the next one looks more achievable, and suddenly you’re at the top. And it works for journeys too. 20 miles is just 2 miles, 10 times. People say “I could never cycle 60 miles!”, but they might do 20 miles to elevenses, 20 miles to lunch, and 20 miles home again.

Finally, police are reporting many bike thefts, so encouraging us to lock up our bikes securely, even in the garage.

Do visit our websites: CycleHayling.org.uk and PortsmouthCTC.org.uk.

Which is safer: cycling or staying in?

This is the article we submitted for the June edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Do you remember the first time you ever rode a bike? That magical moment when you stayed upright, just by moving? Most of us learnt as kids, of course.

But it’s never too late to recapture that moment. And never a better time than summer to do it!

More evidence that exercise is the best medicine. This time from Australia, where an extensive study has found indisputable evidence that exercise even helps cancer treatment and recovery.

“If exercise was a pill it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide, and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

Continue reading

What’s the best thing about living on Hayling Island?

This is the article we submitted for the May edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

I’d say there’s nothing to beat cycling home over the bridge, with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Try it! And if you commute off the island by car, why not try it with a split car-share?

What’s a split car-share? Car-sharing is great in theory, often easier in the morning, but much harder to co-ordinate coming home. So why not split it? Share in the morning, and put a folding bike in the boot to cycle home!

You’ll go green, cut traffic and get fit. And the money you save on the car will pay for the folding bike in no time. If riding over that bridge doesn’t put a broad smile on your face, then I’m afraid you are beyond help. See the rest of our web site for more info.

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Take the Cathedral Challenge

This is the article we submitted for the April edition of the Hayling Islander. The published article was subject to editing by the Islander.

Spring has sprung! What better way to banish those winter blues and get fresh air and exercise than a bit of cycling?

Did you know Havant has one of the best cycle touring clubs in the country? If you have a bike and reasonable confidence riding on roads, our Cathedral Challenge rides are a great introduction.

They’re friendly, led by experienced ride leaders, and they’re not races – we don’t leave people behind. Last year our oldest rider was 84 and our youngest was 11.

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