As you may have seen in the paper, last Sunday was another emotional but at the same time joyous day for cyclist in Worthing. Worthing Excelsior Cycling Club arranged a memorial ride to celebrate the life and influence of Don Lock on the individuals that had the luck and pleasure to meet him and rest the cycling community as a whole.
It was a veritable who’s who of riders from the area. The ride began at Goring Gap and followed a route through town, along the coast to Lancing. The preferred, and common cycle route, is through Shoreham airport but that was closed because of another local tragedy. The sadness of these two incidents, both random, has had a profound effect on the local community and one would hope a lasting one: life is precious and we are all interlinked in some way or another. In Lancing the 100 or so riders split up into smaller less obtrusively sized groups and headed up Coombes, through Steyning, towards Partridge Green turning into Spithandle Lane, back along the A283 and right, up a farm track, to Wiston Village Hall. This was the perfect venue to celebrate Don with its pretty little building, straw bales to seat the throng of riders, loads of tea and cake all under a clear blue sky and warm sun. There was a great atmosphere with cyclist from all parts of the Worthing cycling community and WECC members. There were also many riders from other clubs: Sussex Nomads, Bognor CC, Brighton Mitre, Brighton Excelsior, South Downs Velo, GS Stella, Biking Belles, B.O.B.s and probably more. The sheer numbers were a testament to Don’s greatness and must have been some comfort to Andrew knowing that his father was so respected. See a video of the ride here.
I rode back thinking that cycling really was a part of a our local community. But Worthing is an odd place. If you didn’t know you’d think that the local council was against cycling. I am not sure how often, if ever, any councillor has ever said anything publicly in favour of riding bicycles in the town. If you do question them they will say that it is a West Sussex County Council issue. Now, as far as I have been told, WSCC does not have an actionable plan to promote cycling in the county and in particular Worthing. If I am wrong please let me know and I will publish the details. Despite this negativity Worthing does enjoy between three and five times the national average of numbers of people riding bikes. After all it is small and flat.
So what should we do? As there is a lack of support from local government we, the cyclists of Worthing, ought to make ourselves more visible and ride through the town more often; and in happier circumstances. It might make an impression on the townsfolk and council if they saw the local club, WECC, starting its rides in the town. If you wondered why you have never seen those hundred plus blue and white jerseys before it is because they meet at Washington or Arundel to start their rides. There is a logic to this as all the good road riding is north of the Downs. So for a novice that means driving to Washington first but this somewhat defeats the object of having a bike. I support the various campaigns for cycle routes in Worthing but my personal priority is for a cycle track alongside, but separate from, the A24 to Washington. If you want to find out more contact your local county councillor and ask them what they will be doing (not saying but actually doing) for cycling in the County and in particular Worthing. Your councillors contact details can be found here: WSCC and here for Worthing and Adur Borough Council
Well done to all those at WECC involved in making Sunday’s ride such a good event. It really was a great day out and wonderful to be cycling in such a big group and good company. Could it become an annual event?