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Businesses say active travel scheme could endanger cyclists’ lives – due to threat of overhanging lorry mirrors hitting them on new path

One business owner said narrowing the road to build the new shared use path would cause “extreme danger to anyone using it”, but the council says there is “no indication that conflict with HGVs will occur”

Businesses have urged a local council to reconsider an active travel scheme which they say could endanger the lives of cyclists and pedestrians using it – due to the apparent threat of being struck by the mirrors of trucks overhanging the new shared use path.

Work is due to start this month on the latest phase of the Truro Loops project, a scheme which aims to enable “car-free connections” for communities in Cornwall’s county town, and to improve cycling and walking links on the southern side of the city.

The latest plans, which form part of the Newham Trail, involve widening the existing footway on Newham Road to create a shared pedestrian and cycle path.

However, the proposals have been met with vocal opposition from local businesses, with Cornwall Live reporting that the new shared use path will narrow the only road with access to the Newham Industrial Estate, home to 180 companies and 1,200 workers.

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Businesses located in the industrial estate, along with the Newham Business Improvement District (BID), an initiative which promotes Newham as a business location and gives firms the power to raise funds to improve the local area, have told Cornwall Council that, while they support the Truro Loops in principle, they believe that narrowing the road will put all of its users in danger.

They claim that the plans mean that HGVs – a prominent fixture on the road – will only have 10cm of clearance when passing each other, forcing their drivers to move closer to the path where the vehicles’ large wing mirrors could pose a threat to cyclists and pedestrians.

Cameron MacQuarrie, managing director of Macsalvors crane hire, based at Newham, told Cornwall Live: “The road should be widened and not narrowed. The average HGV measures 3.2m across the wing mirrors, meaning that two lorries passing each other in a perfectly straight line will take up 6.4m of road space, leaving 50mm per driver as the margin for error.

“This is ludicrous on a road with such a high proportion of HGV vehicles travelling along it daily.

“The inevitable result is that drivers will then move towards the pavement to create a safe passing gap with oncoming traffic and the wing mirrors will hang over the pavement cycle way causing extreme danger to anyone using it.”

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A letter of opposition to the scheme, penned by BID chair Leigh Ibbotson and signed by 24 businesses including Tesco and Aldi, has called on the council to reconsider the plans, and asks why an earlier proposal to make use of Newham’s riverside path, away from the road, was dropped.

“We want to make it very clear that Newham BID believe the proposals pose a danger to the safety of users of Newham, particularly the proposal to reduce the width of the carriageway on Newham Road,” Ibbotson said in the letter.

“We want it formally noted that we foresee the accident statistics rising if these proposals are implemented.”

In the letter, Ibbotson claimed that the proposals were rushed to meet a deadline to spend European funding, and that the BID was happy to work with the council on another plan to widen the carriageway at a supposedly notorious pinch point.

“The opportunity to spend European funding before the deadline seems to be the overriding driver for this scheme rather than carrying out detailed research and safety studies to consider the best scheme,” the letter continued.

“We cannot see how these proposals are in any way safe and would urge you to consider the reality of daily movements on Newham rather than relying on ‘modelling’ as we understand has been the case.”

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In response to the vocal criticism of the scheme, Cornwall Council has agreed to modify elements of it, including its original plan to scrap the right-turn lane at Aldi, which businesses said would lead to gridlock and “chaos” for motorists.

However, in a letter to the BID two weeks ago, the council said it would press ahead with the installation of the shared use path.

“A road safety review carried out along this route has not raised an issue. Proposed narrowing has been tested by computer modelling with no indication that conflict of HGVs will occur,” the council said.

Work on the scheme is set to begin next week, with the aim to finish by the end of June, though the BID has continued to call for the construction to be paused until all alternatives are considered.

Commenting on the concerns, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Truro and Falmouth Ruth Gripper said: “Newham BID has raised serious safety concerns about the proposals and it’s vital that Cornwall Council gets this right.

“Decisions shouldn’t be rushed where people’s safety is at stake. I’m also concerned by the suggestion that not all options have been explored, and am calling on the council to pause and work with local businesses and other user groups to find a solution that works for all.

“Truro Loops is a really exciting project and I’m looking forward to what it will do for Truro. It’s important that these changes work for pedestrians, cyclists, and the many successful businesses based at Newham.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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9 comments

Avatar
nniff | 1 year ago
5 likes

This is a magnificent demonstration of 'motor-thinking'.  There is no mention of opposing vehicles' colliding.  The threat is solely to cyclists and pedestrians, because the drivers will take more care of their precious safety cages than vulnerable road users and will keep left.  

Avatar
ITK2012 replied to nniff | 1 year ago
0 likes

How would you suggest moving freight if not in a HGV? The HGVs will not be going away, and as a cyclist I definitely do not want to be forced to cycle in a lane which puts me anywhere near one. 

Avatar
LeadenSkies replied to ITK2012 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Total width of roadway and pavement is not changing as I understand it, just being redistributed so that more of it is protected by a kerb. If it is wide enough now for lorries to pass cyclists safely then that will be unchanged, it will still be wide enough. What it will change is lorry drivers that are currently willing to unsafely squeeze cyclists as they pass will now have to mount the pavement to do so and so won't be able to argue there were mitigating circumstances as they didn't see the approaching HGV / the sun was in their eyes / the cyclist wasn't lit up like a neon sign in Piccadilly Circus.

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mattw | 1 year ago
0 likes

This is carrying cycle traffic to the businesses? 

It seems to be a dead end.

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belugabob replied to mattw | 1 year ago
4 likes

I can't see any maps of the area in question, but can only suggest that it may be a dead end for motor vehicles, but not for cyclists.
I work on a business estate, and enter (on my bike) from the far end of just such a dead end. At the end of the day, the business area is quite often snarled up, as most people leave at the same time - I just cycle off into the sunset, for a more reliable journey time.

Either way - those businesses must have employees, too, so encouraging some of them to cycle to work reduces not only traffic, but parking requirements.

Avatar
Rome73 | 1 year ago
10 likes

'asks why an earlier proposal to make use of Newham’s riverside path, away from the road, was dropped.' 

because no one wants to cycle on a path that goes nowhere and is not connected. It's often the case that objectors propose a river path or a path that is secluded and arbitrary. Then it is not used, it becomes neglected and the objectors gloat how they were correct in that no one cycles anyway. Cycle infrastructure should be implemented alongside the main through fares, where it is contiguous and where it will be  used. 

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chrisonabike replied to Rome73 | 1 year ago
6 likes

Yes. If we expect people to cycle to places they now mostly drive to then they have to have routes that go to those places which feel safe and are convenient. Hard to beat the current main roads for directness! Cycling can certainly gain where it can use even more direct routes which are not available to motor traffic though.

The best places do *both* of course - and wouldn't call a narrow muddy or vegetated path shared with pedestrians fit for "recreational cycling" either.

Avatar
belugabob | 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm pleased that local businesses seem to be more aware of issues than the council are - maybe they should volunteer to walk/cycle along the path for a few hours, to illustrate the courage of their convictions.
Or maybe they could just have a word with James Cracknell...

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Fignon's ghost replied to belugabob | 1 year ago
0 likes

I agree. Those local businesses have enough to cope with after shexit and covid. Why should they be left with the burden of scooping up vulnerable road user road kill on their front porches.
Sounds like a sick monty python sketch.

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