If you get around on a bike you may have noticed new or improved cycling paths of late. It’s all linked to a government initiative to make cycling and walking the norm by 2040. And as part of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (21 April 2017) £1.2 billion has been pledged to fund ways of encouraging bike use, with £101 million allocated to improving cycling routes between local communities. Peter Simons, Senior Planning Office for Transport and Policy at 3RDC, is responsible for the strategy on our patch.
But cycling paths are scarce in and around Chorleywood.
“Chorleywood is not perceived to be a major destination’ says Peter. “You can cycle down Green Street from St Clement Danes school to the village but we have an issue with the central location of the Common where we aren’t allowed to make hard cycle paths so it’s impossible to create good links from Chorleywood to Rickmansworth and Mill End.”
One project Simon has been able to get his teeth into is the improvement of Grand Union canal towpath for cyclist use. The work started in 2009 and is split into four phases
“The aim is to connect settlements (ie towns or just a few houses). We have recently completed the Croxley Green to Kings Langley stretch. Vegetation has been cut back and the path levelled in some areas. We have created some 1.8m wide passing places near Kings Langley but large groups of walkers make passing tricky sometimes!”
Keen Chorleywood cyclists Richard Foster and Dick Mander with daughter Bex tried out the canal towpath route,
“I went from Rickmansworth to Kings Langley and met my son and his girlfriend en route at Cassiobury Park (about half way)” says Richard.
“Most of the way is paved, although Rickmansworth through Croxley to Cassiobury Park is rough in places so best suited to mountain bikes – our hybrid bikes were fine. The route is lovely and takes you through Cassiobury Park and the Grove Estate and part of the attraction is seeing the boat people go about their lives! You have to be a little careful you don’t end up taking your bike for a swim though! It’s a great way to explore some of the canal but compared with French canal paths, we have along way to go!”
Dick Mander adds
“We regularly cycle on the quiet roads between Chorleywood and Ricky for some family exercise and often end up on the towpath and then go in either direction. I’ve cycled all the way into London along the canal and come back with my bike on a Chiltern Line train. The towpath improvements are really welcome and I look forward to working with the council to try and create safer cycle ways between Chorleywood and Rickmansworth”
There will always be some towpath areas that aren’t perfect, explains Peter
“Parts are privately owned – The Ebury Way section is rough as there are 40 different landowners which causes problems. Improvement is an expensive undertaking costing a third as much again to resurface a towpath as a road, mainly due to the big machinery brought on canal boats.“
Work starts in 2018 on the next towpath section from Kings Langley to Apsley.
“Eventually you should be able to cycle comfortably from Ricky Aquadrome to Kings Langley.” adds Peter.