“If the Authority is at all serious about enabling a sustainable future for itself, it needs to ensure that every car park it manages also has secure cycle parking available, in good numbers, as soon as possible.” That’s the challenge I put to the Peak District National Park, and I’m beyond chuffed that they’ve already responded.
Thanks to three brand new cycle parking stands, cycling to the start of a Kinder Scout walk is now finally possible.
Last year I noted how, while announcing their car parks were full, the Peak District National Park Authority didn’t list locations or numbers of cycle parking stands anywhere online. Nor could they even provide a list of locations, beyond those alongside their trails (which I should say are generally very well provisioned).
That spurred me on to make my own Peak District Cycle Parking Map, finding huge gaps in obvious places, particularly where people can leave a car to explore the National Park on foot, but can’t leave a bike due to lack of places to lock them.
Fast forward to 2022, nothing had changed. While sheltering from July’s heatwave I thought I’d politely but firmly put a fair challenge to the authority, using Bowden Bridge as example.
Now a car park, this old quarry between Hayfield and Kinder Scout was the rallying point for the mass trespass of 1932 (though the leaders camped at Rowarth and cycled, as all the best revolutionaries do).
I’m sure we’re all more aware than ever at this sweltering moment of the unfolding climate crisis.
One simple step which the National Park Authority can take is to enable more people to visit using sustainable means, and one of the best is cycling.
Unfortunately, though the PDNPA operates many car parks at useful locations to begin walks, few of these also feature suitable and secure places to lock a bike. So even if people feel capable of cycling into the Peak District, they’ve nowhere to safely leave their bike while they explore further.
I believe this “cycle to a walk” market is being massively overlooked, and people who cycle rather than drive are currently hugely disadvantaged by this.
By installing cycle parking stands at every PDNPA operated car park, the authority would make an immediate impact in enabling sustainable journeys into the park, at comparatively minimal cost. This really is an absolute bare-minimum, do-minimum request.
One example local to me is Bowden Bridge, Hayfield, at the foot of Kinder Scout. It’s a long way to walk including the hike itself, but I can cycle there from home in New Mills in just 20 minutes. However, there’s nowhere to then safely lock my bike. I’ve been known to hide it in the nearby woods just to go for a walk, which is ridiculous. Meanwhile people who drive have both a car park and free on-street parking. When I go walking here with my partner, we tend to drive when we would likely cycle the first few miles otherwise.
I really believe that if the PDNPA is at all serious about enabling a sustainable future for itself, it needs to ensure that every car park it manages also has secure cycle parking available, in good numbers, as soon as possible — say, within a year from now.
Is this something you’re willing to commit to?
This seemed to strike a chord, the response was positive, and exactly one month later (to the day!), I was absolutely bowled over to see a photo arrive in my inbox of three shiny new cycle parking stands at Bowden Bridge.
Being so used to having basic requests and suggestions ignored by so many parties over the years, it’s always amazing to actually be listened to and see things happen. It really means a lot. And shows that sometimes just asking really can produce results.
After firing off the most grovelingly thankful email ever, I had to go and be first to try them out. They’re solid, well-spaced, prominent and (given a good tug) seriously firm in the ground. They will be well used by me alone, but hopefully also many others.
Since fuel costs soared, providing cycle parking is no longer just an environmental issue but an issue of social justice, allowing people to live fulfilled, active lives and access the National Park without unnecessary cost.
The hourly bus from New Mills would currently cost you £5.20 return (and Stagecoach wonder why the 358 isn’t getting enough use). Got a bike and a lock? Get here for free.
I suppose in accessibility terms it may be a niggle that these are on grass and there’s a kerb to get to them but ok, from nothing to this: major win. Not just for people who cycle but for the Peak District itself. And better still, they’ve said: “hopefully we’ll have time for some more [elsewhere] soon”.
Once again, the revolution begins at Bowden Bridge.
- The three new stands have been added to the Peak District Cycle Parking Map — yeah! that felt good!
- Follow the Sett Valley Trail with Kinder Extension cycle route to get to Bowden Bridge from New Mills