Councillors Seek More Help for Cyclists

16 July 2020

Green and Independent councillors at Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils have put forward similar motions seeking greater local policy and practical support to maintain and increase the recent surge in cycling.

There has been a significant increase in the number of people who have either taken up cycling or returned to it since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said :

“When the country gets back to work, we need them to carry on cycling and to be joined by millions more”.

To enable this Government is expecting local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.

Cycling rates in Babergh and Suffolk have declined year after year, are the lowest across Suffolk and are well below the national average. Recent Government funds could have helped boost cycling in our smaller towns such as Hadleigh and Stowmarket, yet little action was taken despite no shortage of ideas and calls to implement schemes in these towns.

A recent Government paper (‘Decarbonising Transport’) sets out an aim to double cycling activity per person per year and invest a further £1.2 billion in active transport. To reach the national cycling target in Babergh and Mid Suffolk we need an even more ambitious approach, including securing part of that funding to make cycling safer and more attractive across our rural villages and towns.
District councils can play an important role in achieving this goal by ensuring all new developments contribute to cycling infrastructure and making more funding streams accessible for cycle routes, while involvement of parish and town councils, community groups, residents and local businesses can help achieve a consensus on where infrastructure is most needed.

Councillors are therefore submitting a ‘Motion for Cycling’ to this month’s full council meetings in both Babergh and Mid Suffolk, asking their district councils to publish their own guidance for the provision of cycling infrastructure.

Leigh Jamieson, Green Party Councillor, submitting the motion to Babergh District, says:

I think the lockdown has highlighted what a huge difference increasing active transport makes to our residents’ lives. The reduction in pollution caused by traffic has been significant across the country. The government has now set out its ambitions and expectations to increase cycling nationally. By developing and implementing this cycling strategy the council will be able to work with our partners across the district to target these ambitions”.

David Davis, Babergh District Independent Councillor, seconding the motion, says:

We have seen in recent months how cycling, either to get to work, or the shops or for fitness, is increasingly important to our residents. This cross-party strategy provides an excellent opportunity to provide a cohesive strategy to plan and fund a sensible and workable cycling strategy, which developers, councillors and residents can work with and support.”

The proposed guidance document needs to consider how we identify and prioritise cycling routes and include plans to ensure that appropriate funding measures are put in place – these can potentially include community funds and development charges.

The Green Group urges Councils to give urgent consideration to rural routes connecting villages to schools, shops and services, and to also use innovative and pragmatic approaches in areas where building of new infrastructure is not possible, such as the creation of ‘quiet neighbourhoods’ and pedestrianisation of town centres.

Dan Pratt, Green Party Councillor submitting the Motion to Mid Suffolk, says:

“Walking and cycling must be at the heart of any plans for new development and should be agreed upon before planning permission is granted, not come as an afterthought. The benefits of increased cycling and walking are self-evident in terms of reduced air pollution, safer and less-congested roads, and the positive effects of on our health. The provision of cycle routes away from roads would also give opportunities to create wildlife corridors through our countryside.”

 






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