Prestigious award for Devon cycling network
DEVON'S growing cycling network has been recognised with a prestigious award from the Devon Federation of Small Businesses.
Devon County Council has been presented with the award for Best All Round Scheme for Tourism for its £13 million investment in cycle trails in the county over the past three years.
The funding from the County Council has helped develop a number of iconic trails, building on years of investment in cycling and walking routes in the county.
This includes the Exe Estuary Trail which will connect 80,000 Devon residents to Exeter, Drakes Trail which links Tavistock to Plymouth and includes the newly opened Gem Bridge, Town Quay Connect 2 bridge, linking Newton Abbot to Kingsteignton via a new route, and the well established Granite Way in West Devon and Tarka Trail in North Devon.
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These schemes have helped in the establishment of new businesses and diversifications, and have supported local firms including bicycle shops and hire centres, hostels, accommodation and food outlets in the county.
Tourism remains a key employment sector across Devon and the investment made by the County Council in cycling routes supports tourism businesses attract year-round visitors, and contributes to the overall image and brand of the County as a leading visitor destination.
The last five years has seen cycling numbers grow by 5% across Devon, and by 40% in Exeter where there has been more focused investment. The Devon Cycling Strategy is also targeting a further 20% increase in cycle trips in identified areas outside of Exeter over the next five years.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said:
“The County Council has shown a sustained commitment to cycling as a way of supporting the local economy as well as helping people to learn or return to cycling.
"This award is particularly important as it shows that our investment is valued by local businesses.
"Combined with high profile events like this weekend's Tour of Britain, which draws visitors into the county, and last year alone generated an additional £3million for the local economy, Devon is being put on the map as a premier destination for cycling.
"We want more people cycling in the county more often and by working with our partners, particularly the district councils, we are achieving that and will continue to build on that through our cycling strategy.”
Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, said:
“One of the main aims of our investment in cycle trails is to support local businesses and the Devon economy by encouraging leisure and tourism.
"We have seen businesses start up and grow on and near the routes which have been developed.
"This award demonstrates that the Federation has acknowledged and appreciates our efforts in supporting small businesses.”
Regional Chairman of the FSB David Shephard said:
“We feel it was important that the FSB, as the leading small business organisation in the UK, highlighted the very real progress made by Devon councils in helping small businesses in this tough economic climate.
"Often councils are criticised for not doing this or that, whereas in reality many are working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure small businesses continue to trade and employ local people.
"We applaud what has been done over the last twelve months by some truly excellent authorities.”
The County Council’s Cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to cycling in July with the approval of the Devon Cycling Strategy.
This commits to continued investment in important strategic infrastructure projects to encourage great use of the county’s cycling assets.
The Council is already investing £13.9million on cycle infrastructure to 2015, supplemented with additional funding through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, developer contributions and other grants.
Devon County Council is a project partner in the Cycle West Project, which provides a link between the South West of England, Brittany and Normandy through the promotion of three cross-Channel cycle routes.
Devon has also entered a new formal partnership with Exeter Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness of the available opportunities to access grants and offers to help promote cycling, and match funding is available to businesses seeking facilities such as cycle parking.