Use your bike for short journeys around towns say cycling campaigners

PUBLISHED: 17:49 21 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:10 21 July 2020

New cycle routes have been created by blocking rat runs around Ipswich.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

New cycle routes have been created by blocking rat runs around Ipswich. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A new emphasis on cycling as a way of commuting and travelling short journeys – rather than long rides through the countryside – has been backed by opposition members at Suffolk County Council.

Since the government started promoting cycling and walking as an alternative to using public transport during the lockdown, local authorities across the country – including in Suffolk – have received extra money to encourage people to get on their bikes.

In most places, including Suffolk, this has largely been focussed on urban areas – creating new cycle-friendly routes, in some places by blocking off through routes that have sometimes been used as rat-runs by other vehicles.

MORE: Extra cash coming for cycle routes in Suffolk

National cycling charity Sustrans has backed this approach as a way of encouraging more people to take up cycling for short journeys as part of their normal lives – it is hoping to double the length of traffic-free routes in the country from 5,000 to 10,000 miles. It will no longer spend so much time putting up signs on rural roads that are part of the national cycling network.

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Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans said: “The move to differentiate paths and routes will help us offer more targeted and relevant information on the paths for everyone choosing to walk, cycle and wheel.

“It’s also an opportunity to promote routes as leisure cycling destinations in their own right and build the UK’s cycle touring offer to both domestic and international audiences.”

Robert Lindsay, Transport and Rural Affairs spokesperson for the LibDem, Green and Independent Group on Suffolk County Council, said: “This looks like a sensible move by Sustrans. We need to focus on making commuter routes and the school run safer for cyclists and walkers. That way we switch the maximum number of people from cars to cycling, e-cycles and walking.

“The real answer to making rural roads safe is not to label them as cycle routes, but to cut the national speed limit from 60mph to 40mph where the roads are narrow and twisty (as most are in Suffolk) and to cut the default urban and village limit from 30mph to 20mph.

“This would have a minimal cost and a maximum effect on saving lives and injury and encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use e-bikes.”

He said the ideal cycle routes were distances of two to three miles for people commuting to work or travelling to a town centre from nearby villages or suburbs of large towns like Ipswich.

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