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Buddying up to make cyclists feel safer

Inexperienced cyclists who are “too frightened” to use Congleton’s main roads will be partnered up with experts as part of a new scheme.

Active Travel Congleton, a group that wants people to use bikes instead of cars for short journeys, was due to launch the Cycle Buddies project this week.

It aims to partner up less practised riders with experienced cyclists who have knowledge of the town’s main routes. New cyclists will be asked about the types of journeys they want to make, whether it be to school, the shops or just for recreation.

The group will then match them up with a cycling buddy as quickly as possible and arrange a time and place for a ride. It is suggested that the first outing should be from a home address.

The group has said that the scheme could appeal to those who are new to Congleton and only know the main roads to and from the town centre. It hopes to help people find alternative, quieter routes for journeys.

Group chair Ant Bolding said: “This is all about giving people the confidence to cycle on roads. Rather than drive to the shops or to work, why not think about getting on a bike? It is mainly for these shorter journeys that many people would use a car for.

“A lot of people don’t like cycling on the roads because it is too frightening, and I can understand that. I have been cycling for years, but I still get scared sometimes.

“We want to encourage more people to make journeys by bike. I am aware of similar schemes in other places, and I thought this seemed like a good idea for Congleton.”

Funding for the scheme is from a grant of around £22,000 that was awarded to the borough council several years ago. The money was designated for projects to boost greener modes of transport following an air quality report.

Active Travel Congleton was asked to put together a report containing ideas for the council to spend money on. The group’s report included improved signage to make residents more aware of the town’s “quieter cycle routes”, cycle storage, and details of the Cycle Buddies scheme.

The scheme will cost £1,400, with a “significant chunk” of that sum made up by insurance expenses.

The group currently has seven cycle buddies and is looking for more volunteers.
On Saturday, the scheme will be officially launched, along with a new rickshaw project, in Congleton town centre.

For more information, or to sign up for the scheme, visit atcongleton.uk

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