James Heappey weekly column

During the school summer holidays, my family and I have really enjoyed heading out on our bike rides on the Strawberry Line. As we’ve been peddling along the old railway line through beautiful Somerset countryside, we’ve been in the company of hundreds of other cyclists enjoying this shared outside space. The same is true with the new cycle path connecting Weston-Super-Mare to Brean.

The area is also hugely popular with slightly more serious cyclists too. The cycling app Strava shows that some of the climbs in the Mendips are amongst the most popular cycling routes in the region and local guesthouses and hotels tell me that cycling holidays are a growing part of their business.

Cycling for fun, fitness, competitively or as a commute is all to be encouraged – the benefits to ourselves and the environment are obvious to all – but cycling can also be dangerous where the roads are too congested or where road users (including cyclists) are not as considerate of each other as they perhaps should be. On the latter, the Government has recently announced a consultation to look at how to improve road safety laws for the benefit of all. I hope that all local cyclists will contribute.

On the former, it is my hope that the network of cycle lanes and cycle paths will continue to grow so that cyclists, tractors, lorries and cars are no longer competing for the same piece of tarmac. An important part of that is completing the Strawberry Line between Cheddar and Shepton Mallet so I hope progress on that can start to accelerate.

Finally, if you want to see how fast a bike can really move, do get out and support the riders in the Tour of Britain as they pass through Somerset on Tuesday. Our beautiful part of the world will be on international TV so let’s hope for good weather, large crowds and some world class competition.