Liberal Democrats in North Somerset have welcomed the raft of cycling investment and initiatives that have been committed in the authority announced during the Coronavirus Outbreak. Temporary cycle routes, alongside investment packages in more long term Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plans, and a free Bike Loan for up to three months will all go a long way to encouraging the healthy and thriving future of Active Travel in the district.
Pop up walking and cycling routes coming to North Somerset
More space will be dedicated to walking and cycling in North Somerset to help people socially distance and support economic recovery. Temporary changes to four areas are currently planned in response to the emergency situation – Marine Parade and Meadow Street in Weston, Portishead and Clevedon's seafront and Nailsea High Street.
Marine Parade will continue to stay closed to traffic and signs will go up this week to officially designate the road for walking and cycling only. This will reduce pressure on the promenade allowing people to safely socially distance when exercising.
Possible changes to Clevedon seafront are being considered and details will be released in the coming weeks. To support the economic recovery as lockdown eases and to allow more space for people to queue, road space on Meadow Street and Nailsea High Street will be given over to people walking and cycling. This will help small independent businesses to operate safely once they are able to reopen, while still receiving deliveries.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, chair of the Council’s Strategic Planning (SPEDR) Policy and Scrutiny Committee commented “living in central Weston, it’s been wonderful seeing the increased uptake of cycling and walking during Lockdown. It’s become a real Nirvana”
“You would have been mistaken for thinking the seafront was one in Netherlands, or Denmark, rather than Weston-super-Mare, due to the abundance of active travel taking place. We have a real opportunity to build upon this by increasing the amount of safe spaces available on the road and pavement for cyclists so that people can commute and get the exercise they need without putting others at risk.”
Funding has been identified from the £250m pledged by the government for local authorities to make space for cycling and walking. Other sites being considered to include further busy daily exercise locations, retail spaces, and approaches to schools to help support social distancing as lockdown measures are relaxed. All sites will be monitored to ensure they are effective.
- Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure: on its way
The news comes after the Government’s announcement that it will invest to encourage greener, more active travel, challenging the region to improve its immediate offer for enthused local cyclists and walkers.
The West of England has active travel plans set out in its recently adopted Joint Local Transport Plan 4 and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which will be considered at the June West of England Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee.
You can see the draft of the proposed infrastructure plans here: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/travelwest/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Local-Cycling-and-Walking-Infrastructure-Plan-Jan-2020.pdf
Cllr Geoff Richardson, Councillor for Clevedon West, commented: “I welcome these plans and new funding, however I urge West of England and North Somerset Council to investigate how it can support the extension of the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Clevedon.”
“Our campaign to extend the Strawberry Line has received widespread support and will provide an environmentally friendly way for the people of Clevedon to access the Strawberry Line for leisure, to commute from Yatton Station without the need to drive, as well as bringing business to Clevedon.
- Free Bike Loans for Essential Workers
Alongside Cycling Investment Plans, North Somerset Council have offered the free loan of hybrid, folding and electric bikes for up to three months for Key Workers across the county. The scheme is run by the council’s partner Bicycle Chain, who are still able to open as per government guidelines, a range of bikes are available including hybrids, folding and electric bikes.
Cllr Huw James, Councillor for Portishead South, said “It’s great to see the Council provide this amazing offer to improve connectivity for key workers to make their journeys to work easier and safer. I have already had residents contact me eager to give the scheme a try, the offer of Electric Bikes is especially appetising in a local authority with such challenging hills, where public transport availability is so sparse.”[i]
Key Workers interested in taking up the offer should complete the form at https://betterbybike.info/loanbikes
All bikes are collected from Bicycle Chain in Weston-super-Mare. https://betterbybike.info/start-cycling/get-a-bike/loanbikes
[i] Key Workers interested in taking up the offer should complete the form at https://betterbybike.info/loanbikes All bikes are collected from Bicycle Chain in Weston-super-Mare. https://betterbybike.info/start-cycling/get-a-bike/loanbikes