Secretary of State for Transport to make decision on proposed Bury St Edmunds shared footpath and cycleway

The footpath in Bury linking Cullum Road with Hardwick Lane.

The footpath in Bury linking Cullum Road with Hardwick Lane. - Credit: Archant

Walkers have raised concerns that a footpath linking West Suffolk Hospital with the town centre in Bury St Edmunds is not wide enough to accommodate cyclists.

Suffolk County Council has made an order to allow lawful cycling on the route – from Hardwick Lane to Cullum Road – and it will be up to the Secretary of State for Transport to decide whether or not it will be implemented.

The county council says it wants to better manage the cycling that already takes place along this well-used route, which is an important off-road link between the town centre and the hospital.

But at an inquiry, held at the hospital site earlier this month, local residents raised concerns about pedestrians sharing the footpath with cyclists.

Bury resident Ron West, a member of the Bury St Edmunds Ramblers, told the EADT: “The whole point of it is the width. If it was a full width like the cycleways up on Moreton Hall, great. But if someone with a double buggy and a cyclist meet they are not going to get through.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said residents had raised concerns at the meeting about the width of the path towards the southern end between Barons Road and Hardwick Lane.

She added: “However we are aware that the path is already used by cyclists and converting it to a shared route will enable the county council to install signage and markings on the path to try and reduce the potential for any user conflict and improve safety.

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“The inspector [from the Planning Inspectorate] heard from all parties and will now consider the evidence and submit a written recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, who will then decide whether the order should be confirmed or not. A timetable for this decision is unavailable.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We actively encourage staff to walk and cycle to work where possible as part of our green travel plan and wellbeing programme, and welcome any measures which makes it easier for them to do so.”

Parking problems at the hospital site has been a long-running issue due to a lack of spaces.