Don’t idle, let’s cycle!

Astley Green canal cyclist

A man from Greater Manchester has shown his support for a cycle path connecting Leigh with Manchester through the art of rhyme. 

David Gibson, 58 from Lowton, shared a poem with Wigan Council thanking them for upgrading the Bridgewater Canal Towpath in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester and Peel. 

Known locally as the ‘Muddy Mile’, the towpath is the first scheme being delivered as part of the Greater Manchester ‘Bee Network’ – a plan for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network fronted by cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman.  

Mr. Gibson first penned a poem to Wigan Council two years ago expressing dismay at the traditionally muddy state of the towpath, urging for the three organisations to work together and make a difference. 

Now the works are almost complete, David has shared his second poem expressing thanks for the improvements.

He said: “I didn’t think anything would come of the poem but when the works began, I felt it only appropriate to rewrite the verses to say a heartfelt thanks.

“The route used to be really ropey but now I can cycle to where I work in Manchester easily.  

“It used to be pot luck what state the track would be in. If the weather had been bad, it would live up to the Muddy Mile nickname and I’d have to demount and find another route – possibly using the roads.

“This upgrade means that I can safely ride to work mostly off-road. There are no traffic lights and I see a lot of wildlife, sometimes even deer.”

David has been cycling to work in the summer months for around 30 years and, this Bike Week (8th – 16th June) he is encouraging more people to leave the car at home.

He continued: “When I tell people I cycle to Manchester and back every day they look shocked, but my answer is simple – it takes me an hour to get to work and on a bad day in the car, it can take me twice as long as that. 

“Cycling is a more predictable mode of transport. I know what to expect, I know how long it is going to take me and I don’t need to worry about traffic or being late. 

“Not only that, but there are a whole host of other benefits to cycling. It’s great for exercise purposes and from a carbon footprint point of view.

“I really enjoy being a commuting cyclist because it gives me an hour to relax after work where I don’t have to think about anything at all. I’d really recommend anybody to give cycling a go. Get out on your own or with a friend and try out the routes we have across the borough.”

Funded jointly by Wigan Council, the Mayor’s cycling and walking challenge fund and the Bridgewater Canal Company, the ‘muddy mile’ project will see surface improvements and better signage and access points.

Once complete later this month, the works will allow people to cycle on the canal path all the way from Wigan Pier through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Monton and Patricroft.

Leader of the council, Councillor David Molyneux said: “It’s really important to have a sustainable and reliable cycle network in the borough so that people can get about in different ways, not only benefitting their health and wellbeing but to also improve air quality and reduce congestion.

“It’s fantastic that residents are also impressed with the upgrades. David is a perfect example of how anybody can take up cycling, it’s not just for professionals. 

“We are even happier to hear that he is actively using the towpath for commuter purposes. We are working with TfGM to urge more people to look into the range of transport options available to them.

“We would like to thank those who use the towpath area for their cooperation during the works and look forward to hearing about more people using the route in the future.”

Below is David’s most recent poem:

Went out walking t’other day down’ side o Brindleys cut
We went together me wife an I an’t path were dry and firm underfoot
By ‘eck, I cried, this paths improved, they call it t’Greenheart Way
And a lot of folk were havin’ fun enjoying t’ summers day
Went out on me bike t’other day down’t side o Brindleys cut
But I weren’t going Wigan way and it started dry underfoot
Went past the school they call Bedford high
Past the rugby pitch where I scored my first try
Along the path and up to t’ Lancs, past moto cross track along canal banks

I turned a corner and to my delight I spied a small sign in the line of my sight
I thought to missel’ this is a bit of bad luck they’re closing the path I’m going to be stuck
But reading on further I realised with glee they are joining the path from Worsley to Leigh
I were feeling reet gradely about upcoming plan to be able to cycle all the way to WIGAN
So let me say well done and a word of thanks for making a way on both canal banks
I’ve tried it today as far as its done, and enjoyed pedalling dryly in the afternoon sun
So thanks very much for heeding my plea to aid the commute from Manchester to Leigh
Let me finish as well as I’m able, thanks for making my travel sustainable