BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Sustrans’

#365daysofbiking A thoroughly good job

March 2nd – I had to be at an appointment in Brownhills in the morning and left for work in bright sunlight. Passing down cycle route 5 from Engine Lane to the old cement works bridge, I noticed the folk from Back the Track had done an excellent job of edging and cleaning the trail, making it much nicer to ride.

I’m told the council will now maintain this properly and the volunteers will not have to – as it should have been when first laid in 1998.

This is a fine job on a very under appreciated asset to our town.

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#365daysofbiking Step right up

January 1st – Happy new year you guys!

A short spin out and up the McLean Way – the former South Staffordshire Railway line that’s gradually being converted to a walking and cycle route, extending the current one from Pelsall to Newtown, Brownhills.

Back the Track, the group doing the work entirely under their own volition have sought funding for gradual improvements, and working with Sustrans and others, a new set of steps with a handy-dandy cycle wheeling channel is now nearly complete at Bullows Road, just off the Pelsall Road, making accessing the trail much, much easier for walkers and cyclists.

My compliments to the team – it’s looking great thank you!

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#365daysofbiking A surprise in the dark

January 13th – A windy day on which I hunkered down, slipping out for a circuit of the town after dark, hoping the wind had subsided. It hadn’t.

On the cycleway between Engine Lane and the Slough (Old Cement Works) bridge, I encountered a fallen tree and was glad for my powerful front light. It was passable, but posed a danger to others, so I posted this pic on Facebook as a warning.

To my delight and huge gratitude, volunteers from Sustrans and Back the Track saw the picture, and went out and cleared it away the very next morning. You can read the story here.

Fantastic service to the community. Thanks so much.

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#365daysofbiking Not just pointless, but wrong:

November 18th – This one may be of interest to the Back the Track guys. 

When the NCN – National Cycle Network – was created by charity Sustrans in the late 90s in the UK as a Millennium Project, the Royal Bank of Scotland invested heavily in creating thousands of cast iron mileposts for the new routes, to be erected, well, every mile. Apart from being an utter waste of metal and time, the money spaffed on this pointless vanity crap could have gone into trail upkeep or whatever.

I notice of late some kind soul with a surfeit of time has been touring the network painting and renovating these monuments to banking largesse, but this one, on the old rail line just south of the Old Cement Works – or Slough – Bridge in Brownhills remains neglected and forgotten. 

There’s a reason for that.

It’s not actually on the National Cycle network at all.

Trail 5 comes through Brownhills on its amble from Walsall to Lichfield, and at this point arrives at the bridge from Ryders Hayes by canal towpath; it then continues up onto the bridge and along the former line north to Coppice Lane. This post is about 15 metres off the route on a cuthrough to Apex Road, that’s not actually part of the route at all, and due to barriers and a steep bank, is dammed hard to get a bike up.

So not just pointless, but wrong.

Sustrans. Never knowingly the cyclist’s friend.

May 24 – On the cycleway between Walsall and Pelsall, the former rail line crossed Fordbrook Lane in Pelsall. Even when this was a rail bridge, it suffered problems with vandals dropping rocks onto the cars below; finally, Sustrans – the charity that maintain the cycleway – have erected a fence to alleviate the problem.

It’s a complex structure, and I wonder how effective it’ll be. But seeing some of the other odd things they’ve got up to lately, nothing surprises me.

October 3rd – The old railway between Pelsall and Brownhills (actually part of a longer line from Dudley to Lichfield) was grubbed up in the early 1980s. Some of the tracked from Pelsall to Walsall was converted into a cycle trail at the turn of the Millennium, but the section between Ryders Hayes and the old crossing at the back of the Swan Pub on the Pelsall Road seems to have developed a peculiar status. Whilst not an official cycleway, volunteers have been clearing it and keeping it useable, and it’s now a popular route for cyclists and dog walkers alike.

In contrast to the greyness of the Marsh and Mere, this was quite beautiful.

November 23rd – A run out on errands late morning was shrouded in grey, overcast damp. I swung out to Pelsall, then back over to Coppice Side and up to Chasewater, Ogley and back to the supermarket. It was a thoroughly grey, uninspiring and lifeless day.

I cut up the cycleway from Apex Road, over the old cement works bridge up to Engine Lane. I was pleased to note the cycleway here has been opened back out and the paths cleared – all by a Community Payback team, who were working cutting the scrub back today.

That pleased me, and makes riding down here a whole bunch nicer. Thanks, folks. Looking good!

July 6th – Sustrans, the cycling charity who created and ostensibly look after the National Cycle Network are really annoying me locally.

A few weeks ago, I pointed out the baffling signage south of Chasewater on the canal, which appeared to prohibit a good cycling route. Here I noticed similar confusion at the level crossing by Chasewater Heaths station. Face north, and the signage correctly leads you over the crossing, onto the cycleway past the Sportway. Come in the opposite direction, and it shows you’re on Route Five. Or you’re not. 

What the hell?

Get your act together, people; you’re supposed to be promoting cycling, not preventing it.

May 4th – This is, as they say, boiling my piss. 

Pardon my language, but these signs have been put up recently by Sustrans rangers (who are volunteers) maintaing the cycle route through Brownhills. The aim is innocent enough, I guess.

The cycleway runs along Wharf Lane, onto the canal at the old bridge, then as far as Anglesey Wharf (fifty yards or so), then alongside the new bypass on the embankment, and on to Pool Road at the top of the dam. As a route, it’s crap, frankly.

Far better is to ride straight up the canal, past the basin and up the slope to the dam. It’s a fifth of the distance, on wide, well made tracks, and makes perfect sense. 

Likewise one can head to Brownhills along the very good towpaths and find a much better route than the Sustrans National Cycle Network one.

These signs only indicate that the route beyond this point is not part of the National Cycle Network, but they look like – and people are reading them as – cycling prohibition notices.

Why bother with them at all? The routes have functioned for 15 years without them. These are just a waste of time, money and effort.

Sustrans are supposed to be supporting and promoting cycling. This is a whole bag of fail.

Rant over.