A Green Party councillor in Suffolk has said that money set aside for a £2 million cycle and pedestrian bridge over the A14 at Bury St Edmunds would be better spent on cycle paths. The bridge will connect Thingoe Hill and Northgate Avenue and allow cyclists to avoid the busy Fordham Road. It aims to provide a safe route to the town centre, train station and schools.
The project was one of 78 announced earlier this week as having been awarded cycling-specific funding by the Department for Transport (DfT), which is meeting 75 per cent of the cost, making it the single largest grant.
National cyclists’ organisation CTC, which along with other organisations such as British Cycling and Sustrans was involved in helping the DfT select the projects that were awarded money, highlighted the bridge as one of “several hugely impressive and radical schemes.”
However, Julia Wakelam, who represents Risbygate at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, told the East Anglia Daily Times that money could be better spent elsewhere.
“Anything that helps cycling is a good thing,” she told the East Anglia Daily Times. “But of more urgency is sorting out the roads, because half of the cycle paths are no longer visible because the painting has worn away.
“Worse still, most of them are too narrow and they are full of potholes. As a result an awful lot of people cycle on the pavements.”
She went on: “I actually believe that what we should be doing is widening our pavement so cyclists and pedestrians go on a split pavement – a bit like in Cullum Road. It’s wide enough so pedestrians can walk, and cyclists can cycle without any danger from lorries or cars.
“It is a more European system. The more you make cycling safe and comfortable, the better the health of the population and you also cut down on pollution.”
A Suffolk County Council spokesman commented: “This project will create a safe, quick and easy route for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the A14 when travelling between the town centre and the Howard and Mildenhall Road estates.
“That is not to say, however, that other schemes will not be looked at in future, because Suffolk County Council is committed to making sustainable travel a more appealing and viable option for people to use on a daily basis.
“Now we have secured the funding, we’ll be able to progress the project, which we hope to have delivered by the end of the year.”