Cyclists will take to the roads and trails of Derbyshire this weekend to call for a new cycleway to be created through the Derwent Valley.
Campaigners want to see dedicated cycle routes through the UNESCO World Heritage Site, in line with Derbyshire County Council’s stated ambition to make this the ‘most connected cycling county in England’.
At present, the National Cycle Network has good connections to Derby at the southern end, and to the High Peak Trail and Matlock at the northern end, but there is nothing which passes through the 15 miles of the site itself.
Matlock’s penny farthing racing champion Richard Thoday will be joining the campaign ride on Saturday, May 18, and said: “I have lived in the area almost all of my live and travel up and down the Derwent Valley every day to get to work, to do shopping, to visit family or just for leisure.
“Cycling is a great way to travel but the A6 is an intimidating and difficult place to ride. For many people who are not confident cyclists it is just too scary to contemplate riding in this environment and so feel resigned to using the car for all journeys.”
He added: “Having a safe, traffic free route through the Derwent Valley would be such a wonderful thing.
“It would allow people to walk and ride in a quiet, safe and sociable environment helping them to become fitter, healthier and happier.”
The Derwent Valley Trust is pushing the government and county council to establish a high quality, traffic-free cycleway connecting the area’s tourist attractions and beauty spots.
It cites economic impact analysis suggesting there would be a near five-fold return on any investment in the project, through visitor opportunities, less congested roads, and health benefits.
Richard said: “Looking at the success of traffic free commuting routes in Europe, this project would clearly be of massive benefit to local people - I can’t understand why it does not already exist.”
Experienced riders are invited to join the ride along the A6, starting at the University of Derby at 10.15am.
A more gentle, family-friendly ride will start from the Old Station Close car park in Rowsley at 11.30am.
Both groups will meet at an event in Hall Leys Park, Matlock, from 11.30am to 2pm, featuring a hog roast, live music, and fun activities for all ages and a petition which will be delivered to Derbyshire County Council.
The cycle rides are free to join, but donations of £5 per person are welcomed to cover the event’s costs.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2EaSH3s.