11:44 Friday 07 June 2013  Written by BY MICHAEL HAVIS

Ade Adepitan leads cyclists in Stevenage for One Show

BBC crews came to Stevenage yesterday to film TV presenter and Paralympian Ade Adepitan as he led cyclists on a ride.

The cameras appeared at the junction of Martins Way and Grace Way to film a segment for The One Show about the cycleways in Stevenage, which were designed by engineer Eric Claxton.

Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser after the ride, Mr Adepitan said: "It was great, I loved it. It was a lot of fun.

"It helps when we have got a beautiful day but the great thing is you are on a pathway that is specifically for bikes, with no worrying about cars or roundabouts.

"For accessibility, for wheelchair users, for someone on a handbike like I am, or for any non-motorized wheels, it's perfect. In comparison to everywhere else, it's on a different level."

Mr Claxton had hoped to make cycling as popular in Stevenage as he had seen it was in The Netherlands, basing his plans on Dutch cycleways.

His daughter Linda Higman, 69, of Essex Road, said: "He was very well aware of the destructive side of the cycle-track systems elsewhere.

"He was determined that those cycle-track systems would never be used here and that we would have safe cycling.

"It was a real battle with the government because everything about Stevenage had to go through them.

"Every step was a battle, even underpasses were difficult, but he was determined that traffic should not merge with cyclists."

Still, despite his success bringing in extensive cycleways – which run parallel yet separate to the road network – people stayed in their cars.

Newcastle resident Carlton Reid, 46 – who sparked interest in Claxton's designs while seeking public backing for his book Roads Were Not Built For Cars – told the Advertiser why the system never took off.

He said: "Eric just assumed people would ride their bikes given the network. They didn't and it's mainly because he gave motorists a fantastic network as well.

"He was of the opinion that people should cycle for short distances and they didn't.

"It's unpopular this concept, because it involves restraining motorcars, but if we want to decrease obesity and diabetes the solution is staring us in the face: active travel.

"If we make it super convenient for all, it will be the motorists who win, so we must stop designing for motorists."

Hitchin Road resident Graham Thompson, 79, bought his house from Claxton in 1979 and lived with him for four months while Eric sorted his new home.

“The cycleways could be used more, but humans are lazy” he agreed, “They can go by car, so they will do instead of cycling three or four miles.

“I think another thing that discourages people from cycling is the English climate and at work very few places have facilities for changing clothes and storing bikes.”

He continued: “I have been cycling since 1948 and I think this was the first town with a cycle-path system.

“When I first moved here I was racing so didn’t use the cycleways but as I got older and did it more for leisure I used it get out into the countryside.”

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