Revealed – Six Ipswich roads being earmarked for cycle improvements to aid easing of lockdown
PUBLISHED: 05:30 28 May 2020
Six key routes in Ipswich are being eyed for cycle-friendly measures as part of a programme of work to make alternative transport easier post-lockdown.
Suffolk County Council last week confirmed a series of measures such as cycle-only zones, widened cycle lanes and changes to junction designs were being considered as more people are expected to walk or cycle to work post-lockdown.
MORE: Bookmark the EADT Coronavirus topic page for latest updates
While no scheme has yet been finalised, Conservative cabinet member for highways, Andrew Reid, said the authority had a “long list of potential schemes” and included exploration of measures for the following areas in Ipswich:
• Portman Road
• Elm Street/Museum Street
• Princes Street
• Between Ipswich Hospital and the University of Suffolk
• Heath Road and Bixley Road
The council is waiting to find out how much of the government’s £250million pot it is to receive for the temporary measures, but the Waterfront has already been closed to traffic and on Wednesday it was confirmed that Milner Street would also be closed to traffic.
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Mr Reid said: “There is quite a lot of interest in creating cycleways that serve the needs of towns and make it easier for them to have greater connectivity.
“I think that there is a focus on town centres and there are maybe 10 towns throughout Suffolk we will focus on. The benefits of those are quite obvious, and then we will consider schemes in the countryside, and do so particularly around new developments.
“We have seen the potential there already [for more cycling] and we think there is more now. Yes, some people will opt for the car but we trust that over time they will graduate to the alternative forms of travel.”
He added that it would enable the authority to “try out ideas and see how well they go down”.
MORE: Road and pavement changes planned for easing of Suffolk lockdown
According to the council, data from around Ipswich suggested traffic was at 40% during the height of lockdown on levels seen prior to Covid-19, with highways chiefs keen to see sustainable transport like walking and cycling as a long term behavioural change.
As it stands, those temporary measures will be wholly reliant on government funding, but longer term permanent changes could be financed from housing developer contributions or other funding avenues.
It is understood the cycle path network through Martlesham and Kesgrave could be a blueprint for how future cycle routes could work.
It follows the temporary closure of Ipswich Waterfront to traffic in order for people walking and cycling for their exercise to be able to socially distance – a measure which Suffolk County Council believes was one of the first to be made nationally outside of Manchester or Brighton.
Councillor Bill Quinton, opposition spokesman for Ipswich from the Labour group said: “We would always welcome any moves to make walking and cycling safer and easier – we must always be looking at ways to help people use healthier and more environmentally friendly travel alternatives.
“We are yet to see the details regarding these specific proposals, but to get them right, Suffolk County Council now needs to develop the plans with local residents and councillors before pushing ahead with schemes that will affect their communities.
“Anything that is implemented then needs to be monitored carefully and the council must be prepared to make changes if problems occur.
“These are encouraging first steps, but moving forward, our communities must be given proper autonomy for this to be a success.”
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