Suffolk's farcical cycle path

IS this the most useless cycle path in the country?No-one can remember seeing anyone on a bike use it since it opened – and after all, it is the cycle path to nowhere.

IS this the most useless cycle path in the country?

No-one can remember seeing anyone on a bike use it since it opened – and after all, it is the cycle path to nowhere.

Any cyclist who did embark on the 100 metre path would be forced to stop twice to give-way to pedestrians emerging from flood gates, and then find it comes to an abrupt end with three signs saying "No cycling" and "Cyclists dismount".

Although it is two-way, nobody would use it from the other direction either, as it runs to and from Felixstowe promenade, on which cycling is banned.

Officials cannot even argue the baffling cycle way – which runs from Undercliff Road West, round the boundary of the Pier Bight car park and along the edge of the sea wall to the prom – leads to the leisure centre.

Because it clearly does not.

Most Read

And any cyclist heading for the centre would simply stay on Undercliff Road West and get off at the traffic lights – a shorter and less disruptive ride with no give ways.

The traffic lights are also right next to the cycle park provided by the council.

Cyclists would also leave the centre by the same route as it is quick and easy and the road is just one pedal away.

"I am all for cycle paths to encourage people to use their bikes and feel safe – the more the better. But this one is very odd indeed," said one cyclist.

"Any visitor seeing the cycle route sign and turning onto it would be totally confused 100 yards later when they reach the prom and all the no cycling signs. It is a complete waste of money.

"If you are going to the leisure centre you might as well stay on the road and be there in a few seconds."

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said the council was taking a long-term view.

"The project team which drew up the scheme incorporated a strip of land which could be used by cyclists, not necessarily now but in future years as other opportunities were taken," he said.

"The end result would be a cycleway running the length of the seafront, separated from vehicular traffic.

"To miss the opportunity here would mean that cyclists in this stretch would have to use the road or the promenade, the latter not finding favour with many users of the walk beside the sea.

"We had a one-off opportunity to put in place the first part of this scheme, ready for when the rest becomes available. While it may be underused at the moment, it will become more used as further lengths are created."

Factfile:

n Encouraging people to exercise and leave their cars behind means virtually all traffic and environmental improvement schemes must feature cycling facilities.

n Cycling accounts for less than two per cent of journeys in the UK, compared to ten pc in Sweden, 11pc in Germany, 15pc in Switzerland and 18pc in Denmark. Cycle use in the UK has been declining as a form of transport in recent years.

n Suffolk County Council is aiming to increase the number of people travelling to work by bicycle by five per cent by 2006 and ten pc by 2011.

n There have been 27 kilometres of new or improved cycle routes provided in the county in the past two years and many traffic light junctions have been made cycle-friendly.

n Schools are encouraged to take part in child road cycle training initiatives and a Get Cycling magazine is published.

n Felixstowe is on the 8,000-mile National Cycle Network of cycle paths and is on Route 1, which runs up the east coast.

panel:

CYCLING on the prom at Felixstowe has been a hot potato for years.

Suffolk Coastal's desire to create a cycle path running the length of the seafront and away from the traffic will mean the prom has to be considered – because there is no where else for the route to go.

Amusements, toilet blocks and narrow stretches of gardens leave no possibility in Sea Road and Undercliff Road West.

The main argument against cycling on the prom has been the danger to walkers – especially those joining the walkway via its 30-plus entrances.

However, the cycle path at Pier Bight proves there is a way with "give way" lines for those on two wheels, and other resorts have found a way to accommodate both pedestrians and riders.

n Do you know a more pointless piece of cycle path? Should cycling on the prom be allowed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter