Cyclists criticise road safety measures

CONCERNED cyclists today condemned their town's road safety measures after taking part in a protest.Stowmarket has become the focus of campaigns calling for improvements to the town's street network, which currently has a shortage of cycle paths, according to residents and councillors.

CONCERNED cyclists today condemned their town's "woefully lacking" road safety measures after taking part in a protest.

Stowmarket has become the focus of campaigns calling for improvements to the town's street network, which currently has a shortage of cycle paths, according to residents and councillors.

Nine people turned out to take part in the protest through the town to highlight the need for safety improvements, particularly for cyclists.

Mid Suffolk district councillor Andrew Stringer spent the day following cycle and pedestrian routes in an electric buggy and admitted the experience was "frightening".

He said: "The protest flagged up some really interesting anomalies.

"The health centre was appalling. There was virtually zero provision for pedestrians and cyclists.

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"There is also no provision for cyclists in Gipping Way. We witnessed it and it was frightening. Other parts of the town were also woefully lacking which, by the council's own admission, is bad."

Mr Stringer has called for the town's cycling strategy to be implemented immediately.

He said: "I fear if it isn't done the injuries we have had won't be the last. Hopefully the protest will prick the conscience of all concerned."

Backing the protest was the family of Chelsea Clarke - the Stowmarket youngster who survived a horrific accident while cycling in the town in June.

The Combs Middle School pupil, nine, suffered head injuries and a broken leg, arm, shoulder and finger in an accident with a car in Ipswich Road.

Her parents, Andy and Avril, feared their daughter would die when doctors told them her brain could swell, but she survived two weeks in intensive care to return home.

Mrs Clarke said: "I hope the protest will make Stowmarket a safer place and show that cyclists should get as much preference on the roads as cars.

"A lot of children like to cycle and if it is safer for them then they will get on their bikes and parents will feel more assured about it."

She added: "Chelsea is getting on really well, but it was a very lucky escape. I hope she will get on a bike soon."

A spokeswoman for the county council said: "There are proposals for a traffic scheme that includes a cycle lane on Ipswich Road/Ipswich Street.

"We have put in quite a few cycle lanes in Stowmarket already - an on-road contraflow at Fairfield Hill, an on-road lane between Gipping Way, Church Walk and the town centre, and off road schemes at Wood Ley, the recreation ground, and the A1120 from Cedars Road to Tescos.''

She added that there are also many more plans for Stowmarket during this financial year.

What do you think of road safety in Stowmarket? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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