I read a post about The Role for Surfacing in Rural Areas on the As Easy As Riding A Bike blog recently. In the article, a better surface for the Downs Link trail is advocated based on its use as a utility route rather than a leisure route. It’s an interesting article and I can understand the arguments put forward for asphalt-surfacing the route. But, I don’t want that to happen.
- You might argue that the route is already surfaced because it has a gravel-type surface (at least in part) maintained by local councils. The post is arguing for a more asphalt-style surface.
Of course, it’s doubtful it would happen because of financial considerations in the current economic climate. But, overall, I’m against surfacing the route because I love using it as a leisure cycling route. In winter and summer, the current route gives a range of different conditions, from muddy and wet through to a hard-packed dry and, in a few sections, stoney trail. It’s great!
It’s mainly the southern section of the route that I know, from Rudgwick, past the outskirts of Horsham, along to Bramber near the south coast. Overall, it’s 25 – 30 miles, and I like the challenge of that distance on a non-tarmac, variable quality surface. It’s how I started my (gentle) mountain biking career and it was a great introduction to cycling for me.
I’m not against the type of parallel paths that are described in The Role for Surfacing in Rural Areas where there is an asphalt path alongside the leisure route. That would be an ideal solution in my opinion. But, that’s very unlikely unless the UK’s approach to cycling infrastructure changes radically (both economically and politically) and might prove difficult with land-owners alongside the Downs Link.
I can see both sides of the debate. But, overall, my personal preference is to keep the Downs Link as is it now.