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Italian lakes news

Lake Garda floating cycle path

A new ‘floating’ cycle path is under construction in Italy, which will enable cyclists to circle Lake Garda in its entirety. Recently released drone footage shows that the project by public works firm ATT of Salò is well under way, with construction set to be completed by 2021. Just click the video to look at the footage.

The path is designed to suit all levels of cyclist, with alternative travel options available – particularly at hillier sections – for those unable to traverse the lake’s more challenging inclines. Those disinclined to take on the lake’s trickier areas will be able to skip out sections of the bike route by going by boat instead. The unique design of the path is intended to make cyclists feel that they are floating or flying above the lake’s waters. Built on the lake’s shoreline and cliff edges, it will grant visitors a new perspective of Lake Garda.

Accessed online (8th February 2019)

Carrying bikes on Trains

This article was updated

The days of casually hopping on an intercity train with your bike are virtually over

By the end of 2019 GWR's old class of 43 HST's will be gone, replaced by GWR’s new Class 800 IET. The nine carriage new train boasts 'up to eight cycle spaces are potentially available', but the bike space is dual purpose and the configuration of bike or luggage space is determined at the origin station and cannot be changed midway according to 'Laura Laker' writing for The Though on GWR’s website it says- "You can reserve a bike space, ........... at any time before your train arrives" (accessed online 19/2/2019), but this is inaccurate according to Laura Laker, the Gardian article suggests 'you can only book a bike on before the train leaves its origin' (maybe this is just for the new Class 800's, I don't really know), the conflicting information is confusing, and just to add bemusement to the pot, Laura Laker declares 'the origin' is the start of the trains journey, not when you board the train. So, if you’re boarding a train at Swindon and travelling to London, you’re most likely to be joining the ‘Penzance to Paddington’ train which would’ve departed Penzance several hours before it arrives at Swindon. This means there is a prospect that bike space can be reduced to zero at times, and those who have not booked a bike ticket can be told they won’t be able to board at all, whether or not there is free bike space. There is also still the peak time restrictions for entering or leaving Reading and London stations.

So come on- how many bike spaces are available? GWR has replied “the number of bike spaces will depend on ‘predicted demand’ for bulk luggage” which will use the bike storage areas. So in other words like before, it depends on the train operator whether they even allow bikes to be booked on a train, and yet again- the wardrobe size suitcase people don’t have to book their space because their space is 'predicted'. And the ‘icing on the cake’, there’s currently no cycle stickers on the doors to indicate where the cycle spaces are (a good indication of the contempt shown to cyclists by GWR), in my experience the cycle space on the new IET's is in carriage ‘B’ or 'H', but which end is pot luck, you’ll have leave your bike on the platform get on with everyone else and check, then barge your way back off to get your bike all before the train leaves. And the space itself; if you’re thinking of taking an MTB with downhill bars on- forget it, the space is barely big enough for two kids bikes. The last time I travelled on GWR’s new Class 800 IET, I did have a cycle reservation, but I didn’t put the ticket on the bike just to see what the conductor would do, they’re are so busy I don’t think they have time confront anyone for a cycle reservation ticket, and it's very impractical and time consuming to just chuck the bike off. So, if you're stuck and have to travel without a cycle reservation, just get on and cower in the corner (hoping no-one confronts you) or plead with the conductor! Scary times ahead- Plan your journeys well!

Accessed online (8th feb 2019)

Great western railway HST cycle policy

Travelling with your bike

As from May 2016 and on most GWR high speed train (class 43 HST,s) journeys, every cycle has to have a reservation. Now that in itself isn’t a bad idea, but I question GWR’s motive. The compartment for cycle storage needs to have the guard there on loading and usually on disembarkation, considering how long the high speed trains are, this must be a pain in the butt for the guard to get there. I understand if the cycle is booked it would be easier for the guard, but they have also banned cycles on peek times going into and out of London Paddington (and some other routes).

“In accordance with the National Conditions of Carriage, our staff have the right to refuse a bike if it is unsafe to carry it, or if a reservation has not been made.” (GWR get out clause). So in other words if the bike space is full of wardrobe size suitcases or a family of eight’s luggage, or three prams and a pair of snow boards, none of which need a reservation; you’re staying on the platform with or without a reservation.

Accessed online (17 June 2016)

Click here to go to the GWR Cycle policy (opens new window).

Somerset trails

The Strawberry line

The strawberry 18th May 2016. Click here for the ride related to this article.

The Strawberry line This morning, the Strawberry Line Association handed in the petition to extend the Strawberry Line to a full session of Somerset County Council. The presentation was greeted with applause, and a vote was carried unanimously in favour of endorsing the Strawberry Line project. We are thrilled to formally count the County among our supporters.

For many years now, the Strawberry Line Association has wanted to extend the Strawberry Line traffic free route into Mid-Somerset, using the trackbed where possible. Over the last ten years, it raised nearly £100,000 for County planning officers to compile a detailed planning application. However, even after additional environmental surveys and business plans were requested and delivered, County refused to submit its own planning application without first having funds in place for the path. The Strawberry Line Association argued that funds could not be applied for without an approved planning application. The project stalled, now it looks like the County Council are on board.

Accessed online (23 May 2016)

Click here to go to the Strawberry Organization website (opens new window).

Welsh trails

Exciting news about five Welsh former railway tunnels

Wales Online 4th January 2019

The ride between Abergavenny and Brynmawr has been rated within the top ten best cycle rides in Britain by the Telegraph newspaper. It is undoubtedly one of the most scenic rides I have ridden, and during the second time I rode it I suggested the ‘icing on the cake’ would be the re-opening of two tunnels on the route; the Clydach and Gilli Felen tunnels. There is no news on this yet but the Welsh government prophesied five former railway tunnels across the Principality will re-open as cycling and walking routes. Tregarth tunnel (shown left) in Bethesda North Wales on the Ogwen Trail has already opened completing a stretch into the very heart of Snowdonia (click the image for more). Progress is currently being made on plans to open Abernant Tunnel which runs between Aberdare and Merthyr. Usk tunnel at Usk is already open to walkers but doesn't link to any cycle paths at present. The old railway route is still there and if developed promises to be a great ride right on my doorstep. The last tunnel to be considered is the Pennar Tunnel, situated between Pontllanfraith and Newbridge, if opened it would provide a cross-valley route that would avoid a busy road. Let us not forget the very tunnel that started the avalanche- The Rhonnda tunnel. This tunnel is predicted to open as soon as 2021. The proposed investment in Wales on these projects is fantastic news, but I would like to see one more reconsidered; the Tintern tunnel crossing the Wye, when opened will connect Chepstow all the way to Monmouth through an 'area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', an internationally important protected landscape straddling the border between England and Wales.

Accessed online (14 january 2019)

Rhondda Tunnel update

Walesonline 16th December 2015. Click here for the ride related to this article (opens new window).

The Rhondda Tunnel Society has welcomed “a green light” which will allow it to progress to the next stage of its ambitious project to re-open Wales’ longest tunnel. A Scoping Study report into the Rhondda Tunnel, commissioned by the Welsh Government and carried out by transport charity Sustrans, has found “many of the vital ingredients for success are in place”. It says an investment of £300,000 is required to take the project to the next major stage.

Accessed online (4 january 2016)

Click here to go to the The Rhondda Tunnel Society website (opens new window).

Is the reopening of Wales longest tunnel viable?

Walesonline 4th March 2015.

Rhondda Tunnel "Dates have been set for engineers to enter the Rhondda Tunnel as part of an inspection that could decide the viability of reopening Wales’ longest tunnel as a tourist attraction. The Rhondda Tunnel Society ; the group behind the ambitious plans, recently announced that they had been contacted by the Highways Agency Historic Railways Estate, who said they would inspect the site.

The agency has contracted construction and engineering company Hammond ECS of Aberdare to undertake the inspection of the 3,443 yards (3,148m) tunnel which closed in 1968, alongside the Mines Rescue Service. Inspectors will walk the length of the tunnel across three days, to be held on April 15th, 16th, and 17th. Rhondda Tunnel Society chairman Stephen Mackey said: “Two or three people from Hammonds and two or three from Mines Rescue will be walking the length of the tunnel across three days looking at the safety of the structure to see what it’s like after 47 years and to see if it is possible to re-open the tunnel."

Accessed online (29 March 2015)

Buxton trails

Monsal trail extension

Matlock Mercury 09th January 2015. Click here for the ride related to this article.

Hadden Tunnel "Planning applications have been submitted for two of the first sections of the proposed extension of the Monsal Trail from Bakewell to Matlock. The trail will mainly follow the existing footpath next to the Peak Rail track from Matlock to Rowsley and in most places will be 3m wide. The surface will be the same stone as the rest of the trail. The planning applications are expected to be considered in early 2015. If they are approved, work will start as soon as possible. A public consultation was held earlier this year to find out what residents thought about the proposed extension of the Monsal trail.

More than 900 questionnaires were returned from a poll, with 97 per cent being in favour of the trail being extended to Matlock. More than 50 per cent of those who responded said it would mean them using their cars less and 80 per cent said that the trail would encourage them to start cycling or cycle more. The council’s deputy cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, Councillor John Owen, said: “The extension of the Monsal Trail will be a great facility for local people and will also boost tourism. It’s great to see progress on this project and it is also wonderful to see how many local people are in favour."

Accessed online (29 March 2015)

Gloucestershire trails

Full steam ahead for tunnel path

Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Review, 14 February 2019

I cant believe it! Someone must have listened to my moaning. ‘Walkers and cyclists could soon be passing through a 1,080m-long disused rail tunnel at Tidenham as part of a ‘Wander Wye’ path bid to link Tintern to Chepstow’. I suggested the National Dive centre of Wales could host the route and they are. Click here (opens a new window) and have a look at the ‘Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Review’.

Accessed online (14 February 2019)§ionIs=news&searchyear=2019

Wye Valley path denied

South Wales Argus 16th May 2014. Click here for the ride related to this article.

Crossing the River Wye from Tintern tunnel The charity behind a proposed scheme to build a cycle path through the Wye Valley has said the ‘door is open’ for the project, more than three years after it was put on hold. Sustainable transport charity Sustrans Cymru has said local groups and councils on the Welsh and English sides of the Wye Valley interested in re-visiting the £750,000 scheme again can open discussions. Plans for the scheme were first submitted by Sustrans in 2010 to Monmouthshire council and the Forest of Dean planning office for a traffic-free path for walkers, cyclists, runners, mobility vehicles, wheelchair users and horse-riders between Chepstow and Tintern. The route followed the disused 19th century Wye Valley Railway line and included a new bridge being built over the Wye at Tintern. However, various technical and planning issues meant Sustrans couldn’t hit the deadline set by the National Lottery to spend the money it had allocated for the project.

Accessed online (29 March 2015)

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