CASH that will be ploughed into building a cycle and pedestrian bridge over the A14 would be better spent on improving and expanding west Suffolk’s bike paths, it has been claimed.

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Suffolk County Council have received £1.5million from the Government to fund a £2m project to bolster cycle safety on the region’s roads.

The scheme, which will be built over the A14 to link Northgate Avenue and Thingoe Hill in Bury St Edmunds, is designed to help people get to the town centre, rail station and secondary schools.

Julia Wakelam, who represents Risbygate at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said although anything that encourages cycling was “fantastic”, there are other improvements that are more urgently needed.

Green councillor Ms Wakelam said: “Anything that helps cycling is a good thing.

“But of more urgency is sorting out the roads, because half of the cycle paths are no longer visible because the painting has worn away.

“Worse still, most of them are too narrow and they are full of potholes. As a result an awful lot of people cycle on the pavements.”

Ms Wakelam said: “I actually believe that what we should be doing is widening our pavement so cyclists and pedestrians go on a split pavement – a bit like in Cullum Road. It’s wide enough so pedestrians can walk, and cyclists can cycle without any danger from lorries or cars.

“It is a more European system. The more you make cycling safe and comfortable, the better the health of the population and you also cut down on pollution.”

Nearly 80 locations across the country have benefited from £40m of cycling cash, although Ipswich was one of the towns that lost out.

The town had been hopeful of securing money after hosting the Tour of Britain and the Sky Ride event.

A further £150,000 was awarded to the county council to upgrade a bridleway between West Row and Mildenhall, creating an “off-road” route for both pedestrians and cyclists.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “This project will create a safe, quick and easy route for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the A14 when travelling between the town centre and the Howard and Mildenhall Road estates.”

He added: “That is not to say, however, that other schemes will not be looked at in future, because Suffolk County Council is committed to making sustainable travel a more appealing and viable option for people to use on a daily basis.

“Now we have secured the funding, we’ll be able to progress the project, which we hope to have delivered by the end of the year.”

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