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Call for Suffolk County Council to put cycle safety proposals on hold

Suffolk County Council has defended its proposed new cycle schemes in Bury St Edmunds after one councillor labelled them ‘disappointing and potentially dangerous’.

Councillor Cliff Waterman said the proposals were ill-thought-out and is urging the authority to put them on hold.

But the county council said the schemes, which would initially be in place for six months, were an opportunity to make roads and pavements safer.

Cycling lane in the city - London, UK. Bike route.. (39464541)
Cycling lane in the city - London, UK. Bike route.. (39464541)

Suffolk has been awarded £1.685 million in Government funding to invest in emergency walking and cycling measures.

Schemes are proposed across the county, including: ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities; using cones, planters and barriers to widen footpaths; introducing pedestrian and cycle zones to restrict access for motor vehicles; providing cycle parking at key locations; and changing junction designs to accommodate more cyclists.

Beetons Way and Risbygate Street have been earmarked for measures, while a scheme planned for Cannon Street is on hold following feedback from residents and businesses.

Cliff Waterman, Bury St Edmunds General Election 2019 Labour candidate (39358880)
Cliff Waterman, Bury St Edmunds General Election 2019 Labour candidate (39358880)

But Cllr Waterman – a qualified cycling instructor – said the changes would be potentially dangerous for cyclists, as the cycling lanes would rely on cones which could be moved and pose a hazard. The reduced lanes for motor traffic would also add to the already overcrowded and difficult access into and out of the town centre.

Cllr Waterman said: “These ill-thought out proposals will create potentially dangerous situations. Far from being ‘win-win’, these are ‘lose-lose’. Money will be wasted and those new to cycling could be put off for good.”

Tollgate ward councillor Diane Hind said: "Tollgate Lane and Beetons Way are probably the busiest route in Bury and set to get busier when the sixth form college feeds an additional 515 vehicles per day on to the system from September.

"The roads are not, in my opinion, wide enough for safe cycle lanes. They carrytraffic of all types and sizes and Ihave witnessed the articulated vehicles that struggle on occasion to turn from Fornham Road into Tollgate Lane.

"I have advised Suffolk County Council officers that these schemes have been designed in haste and need much more careful consideration, and that whatever happens should occur onlyafter proper and full consultation with residents."

Comments on the proposals can be made until today, while the schemes could be put in place from August 10.

Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said: “We have a real opportunity here to make our roads and pavements, especially in the built up areas, safer – not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well.

“However, it’s crucial that any of the measures we put in place work for the majority of people living on or near the streets concerned. We’ve been engaging closely with walking and cycling groups, local communities, and will continue to do so, to make sure accessibility is maintained for businesses, those with mobility issues and the emergency services, and these conversations will help us as we implement our changes.

“The county council is happy to discuss the schemes outlined for Bury further with Cllr Waterman to address his concerns – we welcome his feedback. This is why we wrote to all local councillors last week informing them of our plans for Bury and asking for feedback.”

For more information, go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/active-travel-improvements-for-cycling-and-walking/

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