Roads and junctions set to be shut as Suffolk boosts walking and cycling
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Roads and junctions in towns across Suffolk could be closed to motor vehicles in a bid to encourage more walking and cycling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
And other roads are set to have new cycle lanes created – reducing the space for vehicles in a bid to encourage more people to get pedalling.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £250m investment on swift emergency interventions to make walking and cycling easier and safer during the pandemic in order to avoid over crowding the transport network.
Local authorities are expected to make significant changes to road layouts with all measures implemented within the coming weeks. The Government has also asked that evaluation is included in the emergency interventions put in place so that authorities can make temporary measures permanent where possible, enabling a long-term shift to active travel as the economy moves “from restart to recovery”.
Suffolk County Council plans include closing off sections of roads to motorised vehicles, widening existing footpaths and cycle lanes, providing temporary footpaths and cycle lanes and changing traffic signal timings to reduce waiting times at puffin and toucan crossings.
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The Council has been allocated £337k from the Department of Transport, with the potential for further funding if the measures they put in place are successful.
Over the last month temporary road closures to motorised vehicles have already been put in place in Milner Street, Wellesley Road Bridge, Fuchsia Road and on the Waterfront in Ipswich to create safer, more accessible streets for pedestrians and cyclist.
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Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways said: “People’s travel behaviour has transformed during lockdown as more people turn to walking and cycling for essential journeys and exercise.
“Suffolk is passionate about walking and cycling, so we have a real opportunity here to make our roads and pavements, especially in the built up areas in our county’s towns, safer not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well. Our aim is to embed active travel - walking and cycling - as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.
“However, it is crucial that any of the measures we put in place work for the majority of people living on or near the streets concerned. 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 and marketing campaigns to encourage people to walk and cycle more.
“I am really pleased Suffolk County Council is able to fulfil the Government’s requirements to work at pace to implement these workable schemes in such a short time frame, and I thank officers for all their hard work in making this happen.”
Robert Lindsay (Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group Spokesperson for Highways, Transport and Rural Issues) said: “I really welcome what the council has done so far, but I am concerned that there doesn’t appear to have been any systematic guidance or consultation with communities around Suffolk.
“So far there seems to have been a ‘wait and see’ approach, with the council hoping that communities will come forward and request funding, rather than proactively approaching communities and developing ideas with them. There’s no mention of schemes in towns like Haverhill and Lowestoft, or in larger villages like Lavenham.
“The big question I have is: does Suffolk County Council plan to do more, or is this all we can expect from them?
“I hope that this announcement is just the start of the council’s support for cycling and walking in Suffolk. However, if this is all the council is planning to do, then it simply isn’t good enough. We need to be doing everything we can to use this extraordinary government funding to make a fundamental change across Suffolk, to reallocate a fair share of road space from cars - whether parked or moving – to walkers, cyclists and the disabled and to encourage people within two miles of their High Street and school to leave their car at home and walk or cycle there.”
The changes are to be discussed at the county’s cabinet next Tuesday, June 16.
The proposed changes are:
Portman Road (South), Ipswich – Road to be closed as a through route to motorised vehicles at the junction with Princes Street. Suspension of on street limited waiting parking to provide pop-up cycle lanes.
Portman Road (North), Ipswich – Road to be closed at Portman Road between Crescent Road and St Matthews Primary School and between Dalton Road and Handford Road. Suspension of on street limited waiting parking to provide pop-up cycle lanes. This will provide a key cycle lane from the north west of the town centre to the railway station.
Rushmere Area, Ipswich – Closing a number of motorised vehicle through routes on the residential area approximately 1 mile from the town centre. This will provide safer walking and cycling routes because of the pavements in this area are less than 2m wide.
Elm Street, Ipswich – Removing the on street pay and display parking bays, making the street one-way for motorised vehicles and providing temp cycle lanes on both sides of the road. This location links to the Portman Road scheme and provides part of a key east/west town centre cycle facility.
Princes Street, Ipswich – This is a key walking/cycling route from the railway station to the town centre. The temporary measures comprise reallocation of road space to provide wider walking and cycling routes.
Colchester Road/Valley Road, Ipswich – This is a key cycling route around the northern side of Ipswich that has been identified through Suffolk County Council’s work on a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Ipswich. Temporary measures will enhance existing cycle lanes.
Bixley Road/Heath Road, Ipswich – Installation of temporary cycle lanes by reallocating road space away from motorised vehicles. This provides a missing link on the outer ring road of Ipswich, linking in with Colchester Road and Valley Road. This provides separation of walking and cycling along footpaths that are narrow in places.
Bramford Lane, Ipswich – Installation of a road closure at the railway bridge. The road narrows at this location and has been used as rat-run for a long period of time. Closing this route to through traffic will enhance an already busy walking route to nearby schools but also enhances a key cycling commuter route from the north west of the town into the centre and vice versa.
Bridge St Slip Road, Ipswich – This short section of road has been used as a way for motorised traffic to miss out a roundabout at this junction. It is located on a key walking and cycling route from the south of the town (Wherstead Road) into the town centre via the historic St Peters Street. Closing this rat run to motorised vehicles will provide more space for walking and cycling.
Rosehill Area, Ipswich –Closing a number of motorised vehicle through routes on this residential area less than 1 mile from the town centre. This will provide safer walking and cycling routes and remove through traffic.
Various locations Ipswich Town Centre – Reduction in waiting times at puffin and toucan crossings to ensure people do not have to wait long, which could lead to congestion and social distancing being compromised.
Various locations Ipswich – We will install additional cycling parking at key locations around the town centre. These are to supplement the existing cycle parking facilities.
Compiegne Way to Town Centre, Bury St Edmunds – Provision of a cycle lane between these two locations which links the existing cycle facilities to the north of this location to the town centre. This will be via temporary pop-up cycle lanes.
Beetons Way, Bury St Edmunds – Along this route there are two high school and three primary schools. Some cycle facilities do exist, however, these will be enhanced. The facilities will also be extended along the entire length of the road including temporary narrowing of side roads and closing some side roads to motorised vehicles to reduce conflict with walking and cycling.
Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds – Cycle facilities already exist on part of this route that goes from West Suffolk College to the town centre. There is a section, from Parkway Roundabout to St Andrews Street where no facilities exist. Through the suspension of on street parking and reallocation of road space we shall be installing a temporary cycle lane to complete the route.
Cannon Street – Bury St Edmunds – Low Traffic Neighbourhood. We are closing a number of motorised vehicle through routes on this residential area close to the town centre. This will provide safer walking and cycling routes and remove through traffic. Supports active travel and social distancing as many footways in this area are less than 2m wide.
Lowestoft Road, Beccles – Some advisory facilities on road exist already. The plan is to make those sections mandatory and provide light segregation as well as looking to narrow side road entries or close them where possible. We will also extend the facility to link with nearby Worlingham where simple and easy interventions are possible.
High Road Felixstowe – There are existing advisory cycle lanes on part of this road that helps to provide a link from the town centre/railway station to the east of Felixstowe and Felixstowe Ferry. We will upgrade these advisory lanes to mandatory and provide some light segregation. We will also extend the existing facilities by a further 900m to Cliff Road.
Stowmarket – Provision of additional cycle parking in the town centre. Details are to be confirmed.
Sudbury – Provision of additional cycle parking in the town centre on Market Hill and other locations. Details are to be confirmed.