Could cycling solve ‘historic congestion problems’ in our towns?
PUBLISHED: 12:10 24 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 24 May 2020
A new push to get Suffolk cycling in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown could solve town centre congestion in Suffolk while encouraging social distancing, it has been claimed.
A huge swathe of changes are proposed across Suffolk including junction changes for cyclists, vehicle-free zones and additional facilities for cyclists all designed to help travel post-lockdown.
Suffolk County Council outlined its Safer Spaces scheme on Friday where necessary road and pavement changes to help people socially distance as the coronavirus lockdown eases have been categorised into three levels of work.
The authority’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent (LDGI) group had called for more measures to help pedestrians and cyclists, following the closure of Ipswich Waterfront to traffic, as more people are expected to want to walk or cycle rather than use public transport once lockdown ends.
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Responding to the group, Conservative cabinet member for highways Andrew Reid said there were a series of measures being considered, including:
• Pop-up cycle facilities and widened cycle lanes
• Using cones and barriers to widen paths alongside roads and extra space at bus stops
• Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones where motor traffic would be restricted to certain times of day or entirely in specific streets, particularly in town centres
• Additional cycle parking in town centres, rail stations and public places
• Changes to junction designs to accommodate cyclists better
• Creating bus, cycle or pedestrian corridors in town centres
• Bringing forward permanent schemes already planned for the future
The council had a cycling task group already formed prior to the Covid-19 lockdown which was tasked with coming up with measures to improve cycling in Suffolk.
While that group had yet to finish its programme of work and its recommendations have not yet been published, Mr Reid confirmed some of the existing findings from that group had formed a starting point for some of the measures being considered.
The Government announced a £2billion package nationally to boost walking and cycling routes in the country, although it is not yet clear how much of this pot Suffolk will get.
In his response to the LDGI group, Mr Reid said any final plans would be dependent on the level of that funding
He added: “People’s travel behaviour in Suffolk has transformed during lockdown as more people turn to walking and cycling to get around. Therefore, I agree we must make our roads and footpaths, especially in the built-up areas safe for us all to use.
MORE: Road and pavement layout changes tabled as part of lockdown easing
“However, to finalise this work we need to know how much funding will be allocated to Suffolk and how we can access it. We expect an announcement on this imminently. We will be happy to publicise schemes as soon as they are agreed.”
Councillor Robert Lindsay, spokesman on transport for the LDGI group, in his letter to Mr Reid said the measures were “important in both the short-term, if our county’s many independent shops and
traders are to re-open and thrive and allow customers to have two metre distancing, and the long-term, as we encourage a shift from car use to walking and cycling in the UK” and added: “This is an opportunity for councils to tackle historic congestion problems by encouraging a change in the behaviours of their residents by giving a fairer share of road space to walkers and cyclists.”
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