Bike storage could be boosted in town ‘to support increase in cycling’
PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 October 2020
Suffolk County Council
Better bike storage for Bury St Edmunds has not been forgotten about, a council has said, as it moves to address concerns over new lanes to boost cycling and walking.
The temporary cycle routes that have been introduced in the market town using Covid-19 recovery funding have attracted some criticism from residents and businesses, as well as support.
In Risbygate Street, that leads off the town centre, the loss of on-street parking bays to make way for the cycle lane has not gone down well, while plans to close Lancaster Avenue’s junction with Tollgate Lane on the northern side of the town has been met with strong opposition.
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Lack of consultation before the temporary lanes were installed has been a key complaint and a need for cycle storage generally in the town has been raised as an issue - but a spokesperson for the county council said they had applied for tranche two government funding to boost bike storage.
West Suffolk Councillor Joanna Rayner, who represents the Abbeygate ward including Risbygate Street, said: “I understand the schemes were delivered with the best of intent but the Risbygate Street one has caused a fair amount of discontent.
“The notion of consulting after the event is new to me and the speed at which this appeared with very little notice or discussion has upset many. The cycle lane itself is having an impact on the residents and businesses in this area.
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“Moving forwards I am keen that we are kept updated with the consultation process which is now open with a public survey.
“I am also keen to see the data that they will use to evaluate the scheme including how is this cycle lane being used - has it increased cycle traffic, especially from the western estates as they had intended?
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“I am also keen that Suffolk County Council provides new secure cycle storage so those who they encourage to cycle into town can leave their bike safely.”
Suffolk County Council said residential and business premises in Risbygate Street did receive notification about the works - although businesses we spoke to said there was no notice.
The schemes are being delivered as a minimum six-month trial period as part of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund, and the county council is keen to hear from people before decisions are made on any permanent changes.
Counters are also in place to record how the lanes are being used, the spokesperson added.
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Councillor Lisa Ingwall King, who also represents Abbeygate on West Suffolk Council, said, as a cyclist, it was “great” to see some new cycle infrastructure in the town, but it was a shame to hear that some local businesses felt they were not consulted enough beforehand - and this needed to be fed back to Highways for future works.
In regard to numbers of cyclists using the new lane, she said it took time for people to become aware of the lane and change their behaviour, but “we also have to recognise this is not a complete lane and only a partial solution to the challenges of cycling in and out of town on Risbygate/Newmarket Road”.
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The government’s aim behind the boost for walking and cycling is to embed active travel as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.
Councillor Ingwall King said air pollution was the biggest public health threat in UK, with about 40,000 people dying annually because of it.
She added: “I am involved with a group of residents in the Bury Air Quality working group and if we want to breath cleaner air, have safer streets for all and if we want to try and avoid dangerous climate crisis, we need to invest in good cycle infrastructure and this needs to be developed with the community.”
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