Bid to boost cycling in Bury St Edmunds – but critics call it ‘ridiculous’

Under the cycle lane plans Lancaster Avenue on the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds would be closed

Under the cycle lane plans Lancaster Avenue on the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds would be closed to motorists Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: GOOGLE

A plan to ban motorists from using a busy Bury St Edmunds road for at least six months to prioritise walking and cycling has been described as “ridiculous” and a “waste of money”.

Concerns have been expressed over the knock-on effect on traffic of cliosing Lancaster Avenue to mot

Concerns have been expressed over the knock-on effect on traffic of cliosing Lancaster Avenue to motorists to bring in a cycle lane. Here is the junction with Tollgate Lane Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: GOOGLE

Suffolk County Council is shutting Lancaster Avenue to motorised traffic at its junction with Tollgate Lane it says “to create a safer, quieter neighbourhood for residents, pedestrian and cyclists – particularly those travelling to the nearby primary and secondary schools”.

But disgruntled residents have been expressing concerns over the knock-on effect of displacing the traffic onto other junctions and question whether a cycle lane would actually be used. A petition against the plans has also gathered more than 100 signatures.

MORE: Temporary cycle lanes to be introduced in key Bury St Edmunds routesLancaster Avenue is part of a temporary cycle lanes scheme, which also includes changing the layout at the Northgate Street/Mustow Street junction to allocate more road space for cyclists and establishing a segregated cycle lane in Risbygate Street between the Parkway junction and St Andrew’s Street (North) junction.

The county council has been instructed by the government to install the lanes as part of measures for the Covid-19 recovery in supporting people to walk or cycle, rather than using cars or buses.

Billy Wappett, from Tollgate Lane, said: “It just seems ridiculous. Where is all that traffic that uses that junction going to go?

“Is there not enough traffic at the Howard Estate/Beetons Way and Philip Road/Tollgate Lane junctions already? It is going to make the estates [Howard and Mildenhall Road] more saturated with traffic that cannot get off the estates.”

The 63-year-old conducted his own traffic survey at the Lancaster Avenue/Tollgate Lane junction on the morning of September 25 from 8am to 9am, revealing nearly 300 cars passed through, but only a handful of bikes.

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Mr Wappett, a fitness instructor, said while people had taken to cycling and running during lockdown they had now returned to their pre-lockdown lifestyles, adding the winter weather would also put people off.

Some residents, including Mr Wappett, recently received letters about the work, which is due to start on Tuesday, September 29, but others said they knew nothing about it.

Referring to the council, Tracy Seymour, of nearby Northumberland Avenue, said on Facebook: “ are they able to implement such a major change to the main route out of a housing estate without consultation with the residents?”

MORE: Another boost for cycling in Ipswich – but will it add to rush hour congestion?Suffolk County Council said the schemes would be delivered temporarily for a minimum six-month trial period and is keen to hear from local residents and commuters before decisions are made on any permanent changes.

“If any of the schemes are not working as anticipated, Suffolk County Council can change their locations, add other measures or remove schemes at short notice,” a spokesperson said.

Councillor David Nettleton, who represents Tollgate on West Suffolk Council and Tower on the county council, supports better cycle routes in and out of the town.

He said: “My argument is, if you are going to ask people to walk and cycle rather than getting the car you have to provide first of all the cycle network and pavements fit for purpose in order to do that.”

Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said their aim is to embed walking and cycling as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits, but it was “crucial” the measures work for the majority of people living on or near the streets concerned.

He said: “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.

“Also, it is not just the physical infrastructure on our highway that is going to create safe active travel improvements, it is the soft measures too, which includes updating our cycling maps, free cycling sessions for families and marketing campaigns to encourage people to walk and cycle more.”

• The consultation will be available from October 2. To access it once it is live see here.

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