Helping county council staff make Travel Choices

We have to admit it – some cycling promotion events are not as well attended as, say, President Trump’s inauguration. And certainly not President Obama’s. Whether for reasons of organisaton, weather or advertising, some events just don’t draw the crowds.

Well, this week CTC Northampton, part of Cycling UK, took part in an event that was a bit different: it was well attended, lively and positive. This was the county council’s Travel Choices day for its own staff.

The event drew in over 350 people keen to research their options for when the council moves to its new HQ building in the town centre. With limited, potentially expensive car parking and growing congestion problems in the town, the council wants to encourage staff to consider other travel solutions, including car sharing, pool bikes, pool cars, buses and park and ride (combined with bus or bike).

The event was held at County Hall and buses were laid on for staff to attend from other sites included in the move to the new HQ. It showcased many of the tools the council has included in its travel plan for the new building, such as the car sharing app Faxi, Enterprise pool cars, and good old bus timetables.

One of the big hits was the opportunity for people to try out pool e-bikes from Halfords, and cycle scheme e-bikes from GTech. Everyone who did so seemed to return with a smile on their face.

Brian and Phil staffed the CTC Northampton stall, and soon found themselves busy talking to people who were mostly not current cycle commuters, but were prepared to consider it. The most frequent question was about routes, but safety, insurance, cycle training and cycle buddies all came up too, as did the local group’s rides programme. Several people coming from other towns also asked about where to “park and cycle”.

Philip, a council property environmental manager (and CTC Northampton publicity officer), was on hand to outline the cycle facilities in the new building. These include 100 secure cycle spaces and dedicated changing, shower and locker areas.

The stall featured our new Cycling UK banner, calling cards and postcards, and freebies such as spoke reflectors and frame protection. By far the most popular item was the Northampton Cycling Map.

This county council map, now in its 4th edition, was originally developed by John Cutler and other CTC Northampton members for the council and is based on the Cheltenham model, which uses colours to indicate the traffic hazard on every road. It was invaluable for discussing route options with buddng cycle commuters.

A few themes became clear. First, most newcomers to commuting want traffic-free or low traffic routes. Second, while a few fairly good routes exist in Northampton (e.g. along the river), these still don’t connect well with key destinations. So there is work for the planners to do. Third, training and support for new cyclists are essential in the meantime. Specific cycle training for staff, cycle buddies, and a bicycle user group for the new building were widely supported ideas, which hopefully the council will take forward.

This event’s success was partly due to the coordinated travel plan backed by the council’s leadership, as well as financial incentives for staff to consider new options. But it also worked for cycling precisely because it brought together a wide range of options and expertise in the same room. Yes, we can be better together…

Many thanks to Brian and Phil for giving up their time, and to the council for inviting us along to this event.

Brad Wiggins honoured in Ambridge – and Northampton!

Fans of BBC Radio 4’s “The Archers” will already know that Sir Bradley Wiggins has appeared in tonight’s episode, as judge of Ambridge’s Sport Relief charity event – which included a cycle race (see here!).

In order to mark this occasion you might like to see Northampton’s own notable effort to honour Sir Bradley…

2014-01-10 Brad StClearly a desirable area for cyclists!

Philip 🙂

Let’s get strategic – County Cycling Strategy and other stuff

There are a couple of things going on in local transport circles, which Northamptonshire cyclists may wish to get involved in:

1. Consultation on County Cycling Strategy
One of the “Thematic Transport Strategies” covering areas such as Bus transport, Smarter Travel Choices and Walking, this sets out general policies rather than specific projects. You can respond by email, mail or online survey – see link for details. Closing date for responses is Friday 19th October 2012.

2. Consultation on Town Transport Strategies
These cover Brackley, Northampton, Daventry and Towcester. and are more specific, with various aspects of interest to cyclists. There are public exhibitions from 2nd – 11th October including one in Central Library, Northampton on Tuesday 9th, 2.00-4.30 pm. You can respond by email, mail or online survey, or at the exhibitions – see link for details. Closing date for responses is Friday 2nd November 2012.

3. Kingsthorpe corridor modal shift project aka “Kingsthorpe Education and Economy Project (KEEP)
Sustrans are leading a project with various councils around the country to reduce congestion and encourage people to use active forms of transport. In Northampton this is focussed on Kingsthorpe, the University and local schools. There are two officers for the 2.5 year project, Dan based at the University and Will based in the county council. They will briefly introduce their project at our AGM on 24th October 2012.

4. Tricky/ dangerous junctions
We were recently asked by the county council to contribute some ideas about junctions that need safety improvements. This was at very short notice but we will let you know if we get any feedback. Meanwhile, if you have any views on priority junctions that need improved for cyclists, let me know for future reference.


Summer of Cycling Leisure Ride to Cottesbrooke Saturday 8 Sept 2012

Join CTC Northampton for a short leisure ride on Saturday, 8 September 2012, on the Brampton Valley Way and lovely quiet roads around Cottesbrooke. Meet us at 2 pm at Brampton Valley Way, Welford Road crossing, NN6 8AA.

As part of Northamptonshire’s Summer of Cycling, this ride is open to everyone, including under-16s accompanied by an adult. If you have not ridden with us before, please try to let me know beforehand on

The route is about 10 miles and mostly flat, with optional hilly loops available for anyone wanting more challenge. Optional refreshment stop at the Brampton Halt pub.

Also excellent preparation for the Cycle for Cynthia Ride on 23 September!

Happy cycling

Brad went that a-way

As my own wee homage to Brad’s achievement – a signpost  spotted last weekend in Yorkshire – clearly demonstrating preparedness for the hoped-for Grand Depart 2016 by putting out directions for Vincenzo Nibali! 🙂

And for posterity, a couple of shots of today’s papers. Ironically, every front cover except The Sun’s featured the Yellow Jersey…


What’s that song? – The ITV Tour de France theme tune

“What is that song on the Tour de France adverts on ITV – the one about the perfect start and the finish line?” my colleague asked me in work. I didn’t know, but as I’d also found the music beguiling, I did a bit of searching. So in case you are interested…

…you can watch the advert on YouTube – where the song is identified as Youth by the group Daughter:

 …it apparently comes from their EP “The Wild Youth”

 …it is available to download on Amazon:
(scroll down to see downloads). NB Some albums on this page may be from an earlier group of same name.

…and some background from

Daughter is Elena Tonra, a singer/songwriter from North London, UK. After releasing a 4 track Demo EP, Elena joined forces with Igor Haefeli to produce ‘His Young Heart EP’ in April 2011. On November 2011, with the addition of Remi Aguilella on drums, ‘The Wild Youth – EP’ was released via Communion Records.

Hope you enjoy.