The Missing Link
Part of the National Cycle Network route NCN23 runs across the Isle of Wight from Cowes to Sandown via Newport, the principal town on the island. The section from Cowes to Newport runs along the old railway line alongside the river Medina and is well used by both commuters and leisure cyclists. The Sandown to Newport section is equally popular, a scenic route with some smooth tarmac but unfortunately also badly surfaced and muddy in places. Trouble was, the middle bit was missing.
Cyclists arriving in Newport from either direction faced a problem – get off and walk through a confusing collection of one way streets and a pedestrianised square, or dice with death on the dual carriageway, one way roads and roundabouts that were somehow deemed appropriate for a small town such as Newport. If coming from Cowes you needed to walk across a busy road, walk through the square dodging the pedestrians, another busy road crossing, then shared pavement (try telling that to the lines of shoppers), yet another busy crossing and then finally a back street to take you onto the rest of the cycle path. Confused? You would be. In summer lost cyclists scratching their heads trying to make sense of the signs are a common sight.
But no more! Thanks to a grant of £180,000 from Sustrans and some cooperation from the council it is now possible to cycle across Newport almost uninterrupted. We can now avoid the insanity of the ring road thanks to a spanking new cycle lane.
The route continues round a carpark then under the main road to join what used to be a footpath but has now been widened and resurfaced. Its a pretty little route and we have a couple of shiny new bridges too to take us to the start of the Newport to Sandown section.
My only criticism is the number of 'Cyclists Dismount' signs. There are 4 on a short section. Presumably we can't be expected not to try to cycle through the family playing pooh sticks on the bridge without a sign to tell us! Its only a minor criticism of a nice route that makes cycling through Newport a lot more pleasant.