A dedicated band of two-wheeled volunteers is combining keeping over 80 miles of cyclepaths across Flintshire and Denbighshire open, repairing children’s bikes and protecting wildlife in the area.

The North East Wales Cycle Path Volunteers are part of the nationwide network of the sustainable transport charity Sustrans dedicated to making it easier for people to ditch the car and walk or cycle.

The Connah’s Quay-based group hold weekly work days when they collect their tools from the large container they have bought from North Wales-based self storage company Lock Stock and head out to make sure Flintshire’s cycle paths are fit for purpose.

They cover the National Cycle Network traffic-free sections of routes 5 and 568 which run parallel from Chester to Hawarden Bridge which crosses the Dee with 5 continuing along the Dee and then inland to Rhyl and Prestatyn and Route 84 from Rhyl along the River Clwyd to St Asaph.

Sustrans Ranger and North East Wales Group co-ordinator Graham Harper, from Northop, said: “Our mission is to make it easier for people and families to enjoy travelling in ways that benefit their health and the environment.

“That means encouraging people to cycle, walk and use public transport for more of the journeys they make every day for work, school, social and leisure pursuits.

“To do that we need to make sure the local paths of the National Cycle Network are in good order through cutting back shrubs, trees and brambles, scraping back encroaching path edges, collecting litter, maintaining signs and clearing fallen debris and leaves.”

The acquisition of the new container from Lock Stock Self Storage, now kept at Wepre Park thanks to Flintshire Countryside Services, means that the group’s equipment is all in one place and the Park serves as a meeting point for the dedicated volunteers.

It’s a project that has struck a chord with Lock Stock Director Nick Powell, a keen cyclist himself, who said: “The work the Sustrans group do in Flintshire is absolutely essential to keep cycle paths open and to encourage people to get out of their cars and lead healthier lifestyles.

“Cycling is booming but without Graham and his colleagues then cyclists of all ages just wouldn’t have so many lovely and safe cycling routes so they’re making a real difference locally.”

The work of the Sustrans volunteers involves them monitoring the cycle paths as well as going out every week collecting litter, cutting back overgrown brambles and trees and even building wildlife habitats.

They also paint benches and path furniture, maintain the signs, clear leaves and even plant bulbs, hold regular Dr Bike bike-fixing sessions at schools, run promotional stands at local work places and community events and organise and lead cycle rides.

Graham Harper added: “Cycle paths can also provide wildlife corridors through built environments and provide natural habitats for a wide variety of creatures whose existence is threatened by continuing urban development.

“We use cut branches from our work clearing footpaths to build habitats for hedgehogs and other species to maintain biodiversity.

“In Flintshire open space for wildlife is likely to be significantly reduced so we intend to increase biodiversity in the Deeside area and involve a wider group of people in this work as well as provide learning facilities for local schools and an eventual Deeside Wildlife Park on a triangle of land between the Dee at Hawarden Bridge and Deeside Industrial Estate.”

Lock Stock now has 18 sites across North and Mid Wales and the Border Counties and as well as offering units to hire on their sites they sell a range of used and new containers delivered by their specialist lorry – they also sell fireworks at Chester, Rhyl and Llandudno and on-line.

Their existing sites stretch from Bangor along the North Wales coast at Llandudno and Rhyl, on the Dee at Flint and Chester and inland at Denbigh, Mold, Wrexham and Newtown in Powys, and at Oswestry and Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

For more information about Lock Stock go to http://www.lockstock.biz/