This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 124.
Royston saw over a dozen Cycling Santas round the town on 19 December, but they were collecting presents, not distributing them. It was all for the A10 Corridor Cycle Campaign.
The campaign was set up by local residents in response to the need for better cycle links between Royston and the villages to the north along the A10. Further background to this campaign may be found in Susan van de Ven’s article in Newsletter 115.
With Cycle City Ambition Grant funding from central government, a high-quality cycle path is now being built from Shepreth Lakes to Foxton, and it is hoped that this will be extended through Harston following final approval of an amended proposal. The Melbourn-Royston stretch however remains a rough walking track. Residents who do, or who would, cycle this route are keenly aware of the need for a dedicated cycle path, plus the provision of a bridge across the A505 so that cyclists do not have to use the very busy and dangerous A10/A505 roundabout.
The campaign is raising money in the hope that a community contribution, and the associated ‘votes’ for our cause, will show that there is a real demand for these cycle path improvements. Government funding is looking less clear, as schemes such as the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and Cycling City Ambition Grants are being discontinued. We think that by demonstrating a genuine, practical willingness to help fork out what is needed, we should put ourselves in an advantageous position for any match-funding opportunities.
Our efforts got a festive boost on 19 December when 16 cyclists set off for a Sponsored Santa Ride round Royston, to raise money and awareness. The invitation was ‘come in something festive’, and we got everything from a basic elf hat to full Santa outfits, complete with beards and panniers of parcels. (Note for future organisers: cycling in a fake beard is uncomfortable, and cycling with a cushion stuffed up your Santa suit is very hot!)
Starting from the railway station (many thanks to station staff for their support), we went through the Burns Road estate and the Sustrans underpass, around to Newmarket Road, and then wound our way back through town to the start. Passers-by seemed amazed (sleigh, yes, but Santa on a cycle?) and generally supportive, and everyone enjoyed themselves, even the smallest riders, who managed the five-mile circuit very impressively.
Even more impressive was that the JustGiving fundraising page that went along with the event gathered £1,514 in sponsorship from 72 people, well over our goal. Well done everyone, a great demonstration of community-level support for improved cycling infrastructure – any ideas for a follow-up, or suggestions for new funding opportunities, would be very welcome.
William Bains, www.a10corridorcycle.com