Campaigners are pushing for a new off-road cycle route that would link Fleet with Farnborough.

The new path alongside the busy and dangerous Norris Hill Road would link the Pondtail end of Kings Road in Fleet to the roundabout over the canal at the top of Ively Road.

The path would only be 0.6 miles long but would open up a route for people to cycle the five miles from Fleet to the centre of Farnborough without going on roads.

It would also mean cyclists being able to avoid riding in Norris Hill Road, an unlit rural road with a 60mph speed limit.

The new path is the brainchild of 81-year-old Fleet resident and one-time British Track Cycling Champion, Wally Happy, who still goes out on his bike most days.

He galvanised a small group of cyclists into action and they were impressed by the strong support they received from Hampshire County Council officers and Fleet county councillor Sharyn Wheale.

Mike Mellor, of the Fleet Future campaign group, said planners had agreed that the route should be prioritised and Cllr Wheale has started to identify funding for the project.

“It would mean people of all levels of cycling experience would be able to cycle easily and safely between Fleet and Farnborough,” he added.

“This would represent a significant improvement in the area’s sustainable transport.”

Encourage cycling

Mr Mellor said the county council had recognised that cycling provides a range of benefits including health to the individual, a cost effective mode of transport and less congestion and pollution.

“It set up a project to promote cycling in six towns in the north of the county including Fleet, Farnborough and Aldershot,” he added.

“This type of scheme will help encourage more cycling in north Hampshire and more people to take their bike out of the shed.”

Colin Waters, leader of the Fleet Cycling group, said Fleet was already a cycle-friendly town.

“Its long straight roads minimise the junctions that are dangerous for cyclists and the new cycle path from The Views to Hart Leisure Centre in Hitches Lane via three schools is encouraging more cycling to school," he said.

“This new path will encourage cycle commuting to Farnborough, which has already been identified by Hart District Council as an important route.”

Mike Fox, lead for the Fleet Future action team on cycling and footpaths, said group members spent most of last year finding out what was important to the people of Fleet.

“The proposal for the development of more cycle paths had very strong support,” he added.

“This cycle link with Farnborough not only promotes cycle commuting but provides safe access to more leisure areas including Southwood woods.”

'Safe route'

Mr Happy, a member of Guildford-based national cycling charity CTC, said the government had identified routes like Norris Hill Road as being particularly dangerous for cyclists.

“Rural roads account for nearly half of all cycle fatalities, although they represent only a small proportion of cycle journeys,” he added.

“This short link will create a safe route between Fleet and Farnborough.”

Cllr Wheale said the Fleet Town Access Plan recognised the importance of sustainable transport and identified a number of potential cycle routes, including the link to Farnborough’s cycle network.

“I am pleased that support from Hampshire and the allocation of community funds from local developments have enabled us to complete the first major central cycle and pedestrian path from Fleet town centre to Hitches Lane," she said.

“We are now working on the planning stages for other cycle routes and it’s great to work with strong support from a range of community groups.”

Mr Mellor said the group was confident developer contributions could be found to cover the costs of the new path, although it was too early to say how much it would cost.

It is hoped that in time the new cycle route could be extended along the A323 to Aldershot.