Suffolk County Council 'yes' to cycle route improvement plans
Plans to start improving cycle routes across Suffolk have been given the green light, with work to begin on 20 priority routes.
On Tuesday, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet approved the first 20 routes of a 148-route wishlist for cycle upgrades, following a cross-party task force assessing ways of getting more people on their bikes.
The schemes are considered to be the ones which can have the biggest initial impact in helping people to prioritise cycling over using their car.
Measures include pop-up cycle lanes, suspending parking, closing some roads to through-traffic and widening narrow cycle lanes.
Councillor David Ritchie, who chaired the task group, said: “Everyone in Suffolk will have noticed a massive increase in the number of people cycling.”
He added: “It will be a flag to government and the public that we are serious about cycling infrastructure in Suffolk and hopefully that will put us in a good position to draw in funds from government and elsewhere.
“It does seem that we are ahead of most other rural counties.”
The first 20 improvements are expected to be implemented within the coming weeks as part of emergency measures helping people to travel as the coronavirus lockdown eases.
An initial £337,000 has been provided for Suffolk from the Department of Transport, with the potential for further cash if measures are successful.
The cabinet also gave the go-ahead for work to pursue a rolling five-year plan programme of cycle upgrades, which initially begins with a wishlist of 148 priority routes across the county.
However, those projects are dependent on securing funding, including government grants, and housing developer contributions, as well as some county council funding from the transport plan.
The cabinet report stressed that the 148 schemes had not yet been confirmed and 'should be viewed as an overall plan of how cycling schemes can be implemented, as funding becomes available, not a programme of works to be delivered on an annual basis'.
Elfrede Brambley Crawshaw, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said having a cycle plan was 'brilliant, brilliant news' but said some of the schemes would have benefited from more input by local councillors whose knowledge of the area could have identified some better instances than some routes which were 'quite bizarre'.
The full list of 20 initial schemes includes:
• Compiegne Way to town centre, Bury St Edmunds – Provision of a cycle lane between the two locations linking existing cycle facilities to the north of this location to the town centre. This will be via temporary pop-up cycle lanes.
• Beetons Way, Bury – Existing cycling facilities will be enhanced. The facilities will also be extended along the entire length of the road, including temporary narrowing of side roads and closing some side roads to motorised vehicles to reduce conflict with walking and cycling.
• Risbygate Street, Bury – Cycle facilities already exist on part of this route that goes from West Suffolk College to the town centre. There is a section, from Parkway roundabout to St Andrew's Street where no facilities exist. Through the suspension of on-street parking and reallocation of road space a temporary cycle lane to complete the route will be installed.
• Cannon Street – Bury – low traffic neighbourhood. A number of motorised vehicle through routes on this residential area close to the town centre will be closed. This will provide safer walking and cycling routes and remove through traffic. It will also support social distancing as many footways are less than two metres wide.
• Stowmarket – Provision of additional cycle parking in the town centre. Details to be confirmed.
More by this authorJason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter
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