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Cycle paths and palm trees create Southend 'Riviera'

Bike route will skirt town's promenade...

Work begins next month to transform Southend's seafront into a cycling-friendly 'Riviera'.

The £7million City Beach scheme will see a cycle path along the edge of the southern promenade, edged by new trees.

Additionally, more than 100 palm trees will planted around the Western and Eastern Esplanades this spring.

There will also be changes to the layout of parking bays in the central reservation at Western Esplanade, from a straight to a diagonal angle. The aim is to make the spaces more user-friendly for drivers and improve road safety, though no spaces will be lost.

When the cycle path is complete, it will be possible to cycle off-road from Chalkwell to East Beach in Shoebury. The pier to Shorefield Road will be developed first, before moving on to the Grosvenor Road area.

Southend’s councillor responsible for transport and planning, Anna Waite, told the Echo: “This will make it safer for cyclists and for motorists, whether they are parking or driving along the route.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for families, and those who wish to ride for fun and exercise.

“This project is all part of the work we are undertaking in partnership with Cycling England to develop Southend as an outstanding cycling demonstration town.

“There will be no overall loss of parking as a result of these works.”

The work is being paid for by the council and Cycling England, which provided a £3.5million grant when Southend became an official cycling town.

Mrs Waite added: “City Beach will define a new standard for part of our seafront, and we now have an opportunity to improve and soften the appearance of the rest.”

Simon Patterson, chairman of the Southend Sea Front Traders’ Association, said he welcomed the spruce-up: “Anything to smarten up the seafront is great.

“The cycle track is in line with what they’re trying to do to create a greener environment to encourage people to cycle, so that’s a good thing.

“I can see the new parking bays working a lot better than they do now.

“The traffic will be eased, because people won’t have to reverse park any more, and it will make parking quicker.”

Work on City Beach should be completed by spring 2011.

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