Thousands of people have signed a petition against proposals to widen the Cinder Track between Whitby and Scarborough. Sustrans intends to widen the Scarborough Borough Council owned 21-mile multi-use former railway line to 3m in places with a 1m tree- and shrub-free verge on either side – but many feel such work would destroy the character of the route and fundamentally alter how it is used.
Over 2,600 people have signed Help Save Our Cinder Track! which also raises concern about plans to add an asphalt surface.
“Sustrans, who are predominantly a cycling organisation, also intend to promote the path to commuter cyclists,” the petition reads. “The width and surface of the track will attract road bikes and cyclists who wish to speed, and this has serious safety implications for current users, who include ramblers, families, leisure cyclists, horse riders and dog walkers.”
Pete Tomkins, who founded bike accessories firm Crud in 1991, and who lives nearby, told BikeBiz that he was among those to have signed.
"The proposals are 99 per cent opposed locally," he said. "The track is adequate as-is. My five-year-old granddaughter has ridden to Ravenscar and back recently. The original survey [from Sustrans] merely said 'Would you like to see improvements made to the surface'. Naturally, 75 per cent of respondents said 'yes'.
"However, the plans go a bit beyond what any reasonable person would consider to be 'improvements'. The track itself has narrowed in places as nature encroaches, but to me this just adds to the intimate feel. Every inch of the track, from Scarborough to Whitby, is safely and easily navigable by bike. I rode the whole line two months ago on a road bike, and can verify this fact.
"From a thorough study of the proposals, all of this intimacy will be lost if the green light is given. Sustrans seem bent on creating a kind of cyclists’ motorway, a suburbanisation of the line, a rural road, effectively. As a lifelong, experienced cyclist, and ex-British Cycling team member, I can assure you that this will result in a fundamental change to the character of the route, to the detriment of all users. Speeds will increase substantially. It will be effortless, for example, to maintain 30+mph from Ravenscar all the way down to the Boggle Road. Not much imagination is needed to foresee the inevitable consequences."
Rosslyn Colderley, England North Director for Sustrans, said: "We had over 1,000 responses to our initial Survey Monkey consultation with almost 80 per cent of respondents supporting improvement. There will need to be further discussion with local stakeholders about surface options if Scarborough Borough Council choose to adopt the plan and progress with its implementation."
She added: "We’re looking at opportunities to bid for further substantial funding to implement the plan’s recommendations if Scarborough Borough Council adopt it later this year."