Cash bonanza hope for cycle link

PUBLISHED: 14:02 16 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

FELIXSTOWE is expected to receive an economic spin-off when a £3m cycle route linking the resort with Newmarket is finished.

FELIXSTOWE is expected to receive an economic spin-off when a £3m cycle route linking the resort with Newmarket is finished.

A large growth in cycling tourists has a potential benefit for the owners of attractions and accommodation in the resort – but it will be four more years before the route is completed.

Suffolk County Council officers say a shift from car-based to cycling tourism will also increase jobs, provide new incentives for visitor trips and it improves the cycling provision for local residents.

The council have outlined the progress on developing the National Cycle Route 51 to link the resort with Newmarket. The aim is to use established cycle routes and new purpose-built cycle facilities to take cyclists through large areas of attractive countryside and into market towns.

The council is committed to raising the proportion of all journeys by bike from 3.5% to 7% by 2006 and to 10% by 2010. It says cycle tourism is growing due to renewed interest in personal health and fitness, and concern over the environmental damage caused by road traffic. A route has opened between Stratford St Mary and Beccles. The Felixstowe route will eventually finish in Oxford.

''The current value of cycle tourism in the UK is estimated to be in the region of £635m per year and expected to grow to £15 billion per year within 20 years. This will have a significant positive impact within the rural areas of Suffolk,'' said environment and transport director Peter Thompson.

He has compiled a report for Thursday's (19) meeting of the Sustainable Suffolk Theme Panel about the latest route, scheduled to open in June 2005. ''About £3m will be required over four years to complete this project to a satisfactory standard and it is recognised that only a relatively small amount will be available from the Integrated Transport Services capital budget.

''Therefore it is necessary to seek contributions from other sources and developers, plus match funding from external sources, as Sustrans (pioneers of the National Cycle Network) is only available to offer financial assistance with land purchase and legal issues,'' said Mr Thompson.

Officers have made improvements in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Thurston and Bury St Edmunds for cyclists but they are encountering difficulties.

Mr Thompson said: ''Providing direct routes into and out of the west of Bury St Edmunds is proving very hard to achieve without using the path through the park as surrounding roads, although minor, do carry fast and heavy traffic. At other locations, it is the level of costs that may slow progress.''

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