Greenway and Cycleroutes Limited is a charitable organisation formed in January 2016 to help local groups to develop walking and cycling routes for and run by the local community.
A brief history
Greenways and Cycleroutes Limited’s origins go back 40 years when civil engineer John Grimshaw volunteered to support a local cycling campaign group in Bristol (Cyclebag) to build the first cycle route in the area. The result was the 16 km Bristol and Bath Railway Path. The first five miles were constructed in the summer of 1979 as a dust path laid entirely by volunteers. The route became so popular that it was gradually extended to reach the centre of Bristol by 1984. As funds became available the surface was widened and finished in tarmac.
The success of this project led to the launch of the charity Sustrans. With John as Chief Engineer Sustrans built numerous railway paths across the country. In 1995 Sustrans secured £43M from the Millennium Commission to build the National Cycle Network which remains the backbone of the UK’s cycle infrastructure.
After retiring from Sustrans in 2016, John teamed up with Caroline Levett, a former trustee of Sustrans, to set up a new charitable Community Benefit Society, Greenways and Cycleroutes Limited. Its purpose is to build paths that have been long-awaited by local communities and which, for one reason or another, have not been built.
How we operate
Greenways’ method is to work with local people to design routes with landowners’ support and consent, to prepare the relevant documentation and commission reports necessary to secure planning permission, to prepare estimates, where necessary apply for funding, to appoint contractors and supervise construction.
We work with volunteers to carry out preliminary work, construct routes and maintain them either at our annual workcamps or on volunteer days. This approach means that every path has advocates who have been involved from the start and are passionate about looking after it. We also work with local authorities who find that our approach, using closely supervised local contractors, leads to routes that are better designed and at a far lower cost than is possible with a consultancy/term contractor approach.
Under this model, once a local group of supporters is identified, or a local group decides to work with Greenways to realise their local route, a representative can be invited to join the Board of Greenways and Cycleroutes Ltd, to ensure that their particular project is properly represented.
In only 6 years Greenways has designed and built six routes where no access previously existed. These routes carry over 500,000 trips each year. This note is a record of Greenway’s work to date.
The founding trustees, with over sixty years experience of similar work between them, established the organisation to develop walking and cycling routes for the community, particularly where there are difficulties, in the current economic climate, in securing funding and negotiating land.
John Grimshaw, who designed and engineered a large number of traffic free paths starting with the popular Bristol and Bath railway path in 1979 was a founder trustee who stepped down in 2018 but remains our company engineer and driving force.
Caroline Levett, also a founder trustee and company secretary, was a Sustrans Board member throughout the critical years leading to their Millennium Lottery Grant which launched the National Cycle Network in 1995.
Steve Shrewsbury was welcomed in July 2017 as Trustee, following his sterling work at the Brean April 17 Workcamp – as coordinator for the Brean Down Way.
Mat Gilson succeeded as Trustee from the Strawberry Line Extension Group in 2020, with whom we are working to extend the route from Cheddar to Wells and beyond.
Deb Erskine joined in 2021 as Trustee and volunteer coordinator for the Ashton Court Greenway.
The legal stuff
Greenway and Cycleroutes Limited is a charitable community benefit society, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and listed on the Mutuals Public Register as CB 7273.