Friday, 18 April 2014

Portrait Bench Garden

On a glorious Easter bank holiday Friday morning Robert and I tried a bit of 'Guerilla Gardening' at our connect-2 Portrait Bench. With a bounty of plants nurtured by our 'green-fingered' leader, a bit of compost and a willing workhorse (me!) we set  about transformed the site around the bench overlooking the lake at Albert village into something more attractive and interesting. If I remember rightly we were planting foxgloves, aquaphilia(?) and er what was it ah yes 'forget-me-nots'! We also spread some poppy and wild flower seeds in the hope that in the coming months the site will bloom.

Thanks go to Robert for his hard work and generosity in providing the plants. We propose to enhance the site further by repairing the fencing, replacing broken posts and providing a 'bike rack' with pieces of timber purloined from James and the maintenance team in Derby. We hope you can join us on our follow-up workday in a couple of months time lending a hand with the 'fencing' and tending or adding to our garden in the wild!

Friday, 5 April 2013

27/03/2013 - NCN52 Signing trip - Nuneaton

At 6:30 on this morning, my partner, Jean, dropped me off at Higham on the Hill, before taking the kids to the childminder and going to work. It started to SNOW! Panniers, rackbag and handlebar bag fitted rucksack on and ready to go. I set off, replacing a couple of signs on Wood St then trundled off down to the A5 & Nuneaton.

A right, then a left into the underpass onto the Weddington Country Walk and STOP. The local skateboarders had left all of their stunt ramps cluttering the underpass. One of their rigs was blocking the whole width, so I had to dismount and move it out of the way. (see photo) I replaced tired or vandalised signs and added a few new reminder signs as I went. What is it about Sandon Park Reccy, that our signs are torn down or damaged every-time I inspect the route? I have tried to be a bit coy this time, putting my new sign inside the H of a fence upright. Glad to say that Stoney Road & Midland Road signs were still in good order.

I then tackled the Coventry canal, from Midland Road to Triton Road. I had received views that there were not enough reminder signs and that some directions were a little lacking in places. I attended to this matter with a bit of creativity, using scissors and a permanent marker (for a temporary solution).

I added a few new signs to simplify the route between the Canal and Wembrook and make it more user-friendly. On the Wembrook Trail none of the SUSTRANS signposts have all of their arms anymore, if any, I attended to this matter by replacing them with Ranger signs where needed.

At about 10am I visited Ian to check that his kettle was in working order. I think that the snow had put him off joining the venture, but he did supply me with a good stock of signs

A few extra signs were required around the A444 central ring-road, to simplify the route and make it easier to follow, in both directions.

This only left the A444 Weddington Road, between Leicester Road and the Country walk to attend to. I rode out one way & back the other, as each side of the road has its own cycle lane. I made sure that there was a reminder sign at least every ¼ mile.

I finished my venture around 14:30, returning home via the A47 and Hinckley. This was not without incident, as the photos of Barwell Lane will testify.

When I got home, I reported the problems I had found on various routes to the relevant authorities.

Warwickshire CC redirected me to Nuneaton & Bedworth BC, who seemed less than enthusiastic, to clear the numerous pallets & other wood from below the A5 Watling St/ Weddington Walk subway. This was despite the fact of my warning that the amount of wood accumulated, could pose a serious fire risk, under the A5, with significant possibility of structural damage.

A young gent from Leicestershire CC, highways and maintenance, called me several times to keep me updated about the fallen trees on Barwell Lane, Hinckley. The last time he called, was to let me know that his crew had been out and felled 3 dangerous trees in all (I had only reported 2) and that the pathway was now fully open and usable again. – Many thanks to “Shiraz” I hope I have his name right, not only for getting the job done quick, but also for excellent customer service.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

They don't make safety posters like these anymore!
Remember the : "Think once, think twice, THINKK BIKE!" ads - they applied to all two wheelers. Its just that the motorbikes would take away a chunk of car for the trouble. Those dented wings and doors that don't shut properly can serve as an expensive reminder to open your eyes.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Drainage Work on Route 52.

On the morning of Friday the 15th of June, Robert and I ventured out to a section of route 52 – so fortunately placed at his back door – that he had wanted to work on because of it constantly collecting rainwater flowing down the slope, - great for the plant life on both sides but not so for path users. To aid it on its way down we dug through the grass on the downward slope at key points, with the effect being noticeable almost right away. Now the water drains much better, although it’s probable the makeshift drainage ditches will soon be filled with vegetation, making this something to be repeated on a fairly regular basis. Robert also cut back thorny plants such as blackthorn and dogs rose that had begun to encroach on the path.

Once that was completed, we followed route 52 to Gracedieu Priory so I could learn more about the route and Sustrans in general. The trail seemed well managed, though just as it reaches the turn-off to the priory and the end of the woodlands a tremendous rotten branch had snapped off an Ash tree, presumably in the previous nights storm, taking with it a fair deal of neighbouring Sycamore branches. Being too large to move and blocking the path almost entirely, attempts were made to report it, - it will not be long before removal.

All in all, a productive day and the route has been improved somewhat. A crying shame, though, that the sporadic downpours were not avoided. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

NCN52 Weddington Way – Inspection Ride

On 05th June 2012 I performed an inspection ride of NCN52, between Higham-on-the-Hill and Attleborough, Nuneaton. The ride was dual purpose; 1, to check the state of the Weddington Country Walk / Coventry Canal off road section and 2, to perform a reconnaissance ride of the braided section of the route that passes through the town centre. The latter was to make recommendations for possible renumbering, as per current SUSTRANS practice concerning split or braided routes.

My findings were as follows:

A.      The Weddington Country Walk (WCW) is overgrown in two places:

1.       Weeds are crowding the path in places between the A5 and A444.

2.       Where the path near Sandon Park becomes very narrow, Hawthorne & Nettle are growing through the fence on both sides, making riding quite hazardous

B.      There is a lot of damage to signage (see photographs) along WCW thus:

1.       Reminder sign damaged at farm track over bridge near A5.

2.       Damage to “Busy Road” warning sign near A444.

3.       Signs damaged or completely torn away at Sandon Park.

4.       Graffiti over sign on Stoney Road.

5.       Signs damaged at entrance to Coventry Canal – Midland Road.

C.      The Railtrack improvements and diversion of railway lines, means that the Stoney Road area is in a state of constant flux and will be for a considerable amount of time. This will cause requirement of frequent updates to signage.

D.      There is very little signage along the Coventry Canal in either direction, this requires rectification. Signs that are in place are damaged or covered with graffiti.

E.       The signage of the “alternative” braided route, via Nuneaton town centre is rather sporadic and ambiguous running in a Southwest direction; running Northeast, some of the signing is almost non-existent.

F.       At Pingles Park (The Wem Brook Trail) the white “National Cycle Network” direction signs (as shown in Photograph 6) have all suffered damage, most missing at least 1 arm some having none.

I conclude that the on road route via Nuneaton town centre, is possibly the more viable route to sign as route 52. I suggest that the route via Weddington Way, Sandon Park, Stoney Road and the Coventry Canal could be renumbered as NCN (52) or (52A) or Regional Route RCN (52) or (52A). This should be applicable between where the route diverges at the A444 Weddington Road and where it reconverges, with the Coventry Canal at the Shepperton Business Park. This option will require less expenditure for replacement of signs.

I am prepared to perform some of these corrections, between Higham-on-the-Hill and Shepperton Business Park, but I also think that the Nuneaton group should have a chance to share in the improvements.

Kev Regester – West Leicestershire Ranger – NCN52 Weddington Way

Freshairmiles - quality not quantity!

We ran two social rides out of Hinckley on the evenings of Monday 27th May and Mon 4th June. Our target audience was specifically a group of adults who had just completed cycle training courses run by Leicestershire Council. The idea was to provide a social activity and introduce them the local network of lanes so that they could try out their new skills in a safe environment.

I publicised the rides by turning up at two of their cycle training evenings, talking to them about Sustrans and the planned rides and also handing out contact details and flyers for the rides. There seemed to be a fair amount of interest albeit that there were probably only 10 or so regular participants. We did not publicise the rides any wider in fairness.

Unfortunately the interest did not translate into people turning up for the rides on what turned out to be two of the better evenings for weather. The weather for the first ride was glorious.

So we had just Tina along for the first ride and she was joined by Judy for the second ride. In the end the other planned ride leaders were "stood down" and I took the ladies out on my own. On the first night Tina was keen to go further so we extended the planned ride and did an extra loop out to Shenton station - probably 15 miles in total. The second night was a bit cooler so we contented ourselves with the planned loop out to Dadlington and Stoke Golding stopping for a well earned drink in the George and Dragon. The ladies said they enjoyed the rides and I certainly did. Both of them intend to continue with their cycling so thats great.

This is now our third year of running freshairmiles rides and we have still not cracked how to get joe public along. I am tempted to get myself trained as a Skyride leader next year and go down the skyrides local route - they have a bigger marketing budget than Sustrans!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

NCN524 Blaby to Higham-on-the-Hill – Test Ride

A few souls (with nothing better to do) met up in Blaby, at 0930 on Sunday 22nd April 2012. Our Objective: to test the viability of this route, as a new part of the National Cycle Network, linking some parts of South-West Leicestershire, that until now, had been overlooked.
Those Present:
James Lowe, Alan White, Eric Ludlow, Robert Robinson, Jack Riggal and Myself.

I think that everyone enjoyed the ride and the general consensus was that this was a good, viable route, to add to the network. The weather stayed on our side for most of the way, only turning bad on us with a brief downpour, near Wykin, close to our Journey’s end at Higham. Even then Jack scared the weather into submission by donning his waterproofs.
The journey went pretty much without incident, apart from maybe two points to mention:
1.       The gradient around Croft Hill, beat me, forcing me to get off and push, much to my shame, considering all of my counterparts managed it, several of them carrying more senior years than I.
2.       Despite much cajoling and multiple pleas, Eric was adamant in his refusal to perform any stunts at the Watery Gate Lane ford, near Thurlaston. A missed opportunity methinks, especially considering an almost captive audience.

The trip was approximately 16½ miles, only slightly over my estimate and took just less than 2½ hours. We did identify some areas that require attention, as the route develops, listed thus:

Infrastructure Alteration Requirements
1.       Whetstone / Blaby
Grove Road & A426 – Blaby By-Pass Roundabout
i.                     Footpaths need upgrading to Share use Pedestrian & Cycle paths, all around the roundabout, to allow safe negotiation of junction by pedal cyclists.
2.       Narborough
Coventry Road, B4114 – King Edward Ave & Huncote Road
i.                     Divert cyclists onto Northern pavement (upgraded to shared use) on Coventry Road, between Cedar Crescent and King Edward Ave.
ii.                   Upgrade Pelican Crossing to Toucan Crossing.
iii.                  Upgrade Western pavement of B4114 – King Edward Avenue to shared use Cycle/Footway, between Toucan Crossing & Huncote Road.
iv.                 Continue shared use Cycleway, into Huncote Road (on Northern pavement) until Just before car parking lay-by.
v.                   Install appropriate signage, on roads, pavements and posts, informing cyclists where to leave or rejoin main carriageway, at these alterations.

3.       Hinckley
Barwell Lane, B4667 – Ashby Road & Barrie Road
i.                     B4667 – Ashby Road; Eastern pavement – Upgrade to shared use, between Barwell Lane & pedestrian crossing.
ii.                   Upgrade Pelican Crossing to Toucan Crossing.
iii.                  B4667 – Ashby Road; Western Pavement – Upgrade to shared use, Toucan crossing and Barrie Road.
iv.                 Install appropriate signage, on roads, pavements and posts, informing cyclists where to leave or rejoin main carriageway, at these alterations.

A very big thank-you to Alan, for providing refreshment and an excellent chilli to round off a very pleasant day.
Kev Regester
West Leics Sustrans Ranger
NCN52 (Weddington Way)