Posted: 23.05.20 at 11:24 by Derek Davis Babergh District Councillor
Anyone who knows the main route from Wherstead to Shotley Gate and has ventured along the said B1456 of late, will know that while car traffic has dropped noticeably, the amount of cyclists along there has risen exponentially.
For the most part waiting for a few moments for a clear piece of road to pass them is no big deal, the majority of the lycra-clad brigade are head down in single file and a fully entitled to be wheeling along.
However, you do get groups that think being spread across the road is acceptable (more than two abreast is not) and it can become frustrating for motorists, who are also entitled be on the road, trying to get past safely.
Using the narrow lanes on the Shotley peninsula can be even more frustrating if you are stuck behind a cyclist on a windy road, with poor visibility, and if you are a resident trying to get to and from work, or a care worker trying to get to the next client in an allotted time, it can be steam from the ears time.
Now there are calls for even more people to use their bikes, or two legs, to get around and rely less on the car, all well and good in the towns but not so clever for villagers.
That is why I would suggest it is imperative we use this opportunity to get back on the campaign trail for a joined up cycle path routes through the peninsula from Shotley Gate to Holbrook and on to Brantham and also into town, and away from the existing main roads as much as possible.
We have a Shotley Peninsula Cycling Campaign group, that has done an incredible amount of work already, but have had quite a few frustrating knock backs. Now would be a good time to support them as they renew their efforts.
There is already agreement in place as part of the Ganges redevelopment for funding towards a cycle route from Shotley to Chelmondiston, and landowners in other parts of the peninsula appear to be a little more receptive to similar routes elsewhere.
So, along with my fellow peninsula councillors, Jane Gould, Mary McLaren and Alastair McCraw, I'm pushing for things to be stepped up a few gears and we start treating this as a matter of urgency, for a myriad of reasons, including easing traffic congestion, helping with climate change, along with safety and convenience for all concerned.
Junction changes for cyclists and car free zones are among the proposals being considered by highways bosses in Suffolk to help get the commuters and town centre visitors on their bikes post-lockdown.
Suffolk County Council outlined its Safer Spaces scheme on Friday where necessary road and pavement changes to help people socially distance as the coronavirus lockdown eases have been categorised into three levels of work.
The authority’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent (LDGI) group had called for more measures to help pedestrians and cyclists, following the closure of Ipswich Waterfront to traffic, as more people are expected to walk or cycle rather than use public transport once lockdown ends.
Responding to the group, Conservative cabinet member for highways Andrew Reid said there were a series of measures being considered, including:
• Pop-up cycle facilities and widened cycle lanes
• Using cones and barriers to widen paths alongside roads and extra space at bus stops
• Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones where motor traffic would be restricted to certain times of day or entirely in specific streets, particularly in town centres
• Additional cycle parking in town centres, rail stations and public places
• Changes to junction designs to accommodate cyclists better
• Creating bus, cycle or pedestrian corridors in town centres
• Bringing forward permanent schemes already planned for the future
The council had a cycling task group already formed prior to the Covid-19 lockdown which was tasked with coming up with measures to improve cycling in Suffolk.
While that group had yet to finish its programme of work and its recommendations have not yet been published, Mr Reid confirmed some of the existing findings from that group had formed a starting point for some of the measures being considered.
The Government announced a £2billion package nationally to boost walking and cycling routes in the country, although it is not yet clear how much of this pot Suffolk will get.
In Babergh, and on the peninsula in particular, the sooner we adopt a more sustainable method of travel, and making it safer and easier for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike the better, because we know when it comes to two wheels and four, it is better if the twain should never meet.
* If you wish to comment on this please write to the councillor at [email protected]
Cllr Derek Davis is the district councillor for Ganges ward, and is also Babergh's cabinet member for Communities.
Separately, he is Nub News' regional editor for Suffolk.