The Cycle-Station Project

3.0 How are Cycle-Stations different to other related projects?




Cycle-Stations are economically viable, would create local jobs and benefit the local economy.

Because Cycle-Stations are so multi-functional the sources of revenue are spread macross a range of income sources. The first source of income, however, would be leisure cyclists. This grouping can be divided into the revenue from overnight facilities, and secondly the daily bicycle hire faciilites and repair services.

Cyclists on the National Cycle Network and other leisure cycling is included within 'Soft tourism', alongside walking and other 'small-scale' activities as it seems difficult for Tourist Boards to give a catch-all definition for Eco-Tourism

Cyclists divide into two groups, leisure cyclists and utility cyclists. Although utility cycling is the largest of the two it is in decline, whilst leisure cycling and the emerging commercial sector of cycling tourism is increasing. Leisure Cycling currently comprises 500, 000 holidays in British holidays annually. However it is anticipated to grow by 3 to 10% over the next to ten years from studies ranging from the country's Cycle Tourism expert, Les Lumsden and his consultancy.

Extrapolating from research on other long distance cycle routes, primarily the Coast to Coast route (C2C) in Northern England, during summer months (April-September) long distance cyclists starting the three day route average approx 100 each day. Factoring in the overall anticipated growth, the primacy of the West Country as a tourist and holiday region for a significant part of the country, and the general potential of Cycle Stations (even in relatively remote areas) it is reasonable to argue the same figure (100 setting out to complete two or more days cycle tourism per day in the summer season.) travelling long distances on the West Country Way and other related routes.

Such figures suggest that well positioned Cycle-Stations could attract the requisite numbers of overnight stay visitors and day visitors to be economically viable in the summer holiday season, and would add to rather than only compete with already existing overnight stay facilities (B and B, pubs, youth hostels, camping, etc).

However research also makes clear that leisure cyclists are in the main short journey cyclists, not usually cycling over ten miles in a days journey, many on off road special holiday cycle paths such as the Camel and Tarka Trails in Cornwall and Devon. The Camel trail currently attracts 350,000 cyclists and is used by 800, 000 per year; the Tarka trail 250, 000 and the original Sustrans Bristol to Bath route 1 million cyclists. The popularity of these relatively short journey routes is therefore undisputed. To cater for this form of Leisure Cycling several of the Stations are envisaged as being on or near such tourist trails. Both the Camel and Tarka trail segments of the West Country Cycle way are being targetted.

Research into overall potential region by region provides support for the increased Leisure Cycling from and to South East and South West. Cycle ownership is highest in the South East (42.2% of pop) and second highest in the South West (39% of pop). Tourism generally is the 'flagship' industry of the South West with 72 million overnight stays p.a., although highly seasonal. This is approaching 25% of all British overnight stays p.a. In Devon, a representative West Country indicator, 35% of the annual tourism originated from the South East.

However Cycle Tourism and Leisure Cycling makes up only 500, 000 or 1% of all annual tourists, on a par with Golf and Fishing and usually located within Soft Tourism by Tourist Boards. Cyclists arriving from outside the country amount to 100, 000 with approaching 300 000 being involved in some form of cycling activity during holiday. It is believed continental tourists are a strong potential market given the advance, acceptance and sophistication of cycling on the continent (eg of all journeys travelled Germany11%, Denmark 18%, Switzerland 15%, compared to Britain 2%!)

With growth at 10% such figures are anticipated to rise, and with the addition of further segments to regional elements of the Network this will further extend the attractiveness of South East-South West focused Cycle Station network.

For instance Cornwall's Cycle Network Millenium bid intends to extend its' on and off road Cycle Network by 250 miles. The bid concludes usage of between 2.0 million (low) and 5.3 million (high) p.a. Of this 75% will be cycling and 90% of this cycling is assumed will be leisure cycling. Calculations of the daily spend is £9.00, whilst figures support a £30.00 overnight spend. From these figures Tourist spending for Cornwall deriving from the development of the Cycle Network is estimated could be between £6.75 million (low) and £16.2 million (high), an average figure being £11.5 million

There are of course other facets which Cycle Stations can and would be promoted around. For instance they could be promoted around the link between ecology and design, because although many may know little about ecology there will be those who do such sites are a primary opportunity where the connections can be made. They can also be promoted as futuristic, viewing cycling, design and ecology as twenty first century issues, a step in the interfacing between cybertrans and sustainable transport, rather than as part of a past oriented heritage culture. A range of marketing possiblities exist, such as chain tickets from the continent to the west, or linking it up with particular holidays at the end of the journey - wherever that might be, (eg the Glastonbury Festival.) A series of linked Cycle Stations would contain an evolving thematic design so that each days cycling builds the educational and experiential process.

The hope is to find sites from south-east England to and specifically within the West Country. Working to a degree with local Cycling and related Environmental groups, with Sustrans, and Local Authorities, and with the growing industry of commercial Cycle Tourist Companies, a loose network of interested parties has been iniatated. Whilst a wide range of locations and sites are being considered the the focus of the network is for Cycle Stations to enable Cyclists to travel east-west via two or possibly three chains of Stations, one of which would be through London. Of these, the most northerly would connect with a city Cycle-Station in or around Bristol (home of Sustrans) and link to a spur chain connecting to the midlands. Discussions have reached with intested parties are inevitably different in each case. Whilst it is of course completely ambitious to envisage one or even half a dozen new buildings let alone the twenty to thirty that would be required, this at present is the starting point.