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Wider pavements for pedestrians in Bedford are putting cylists at risk, says campaigner

Councillor responds by saying it's impossible to have safe space for cyclists and pedestrians on High Street...

A cycling campaigner in Bedford has told the town’s council that the widening of pavements for pedestrians to enable social distancing during the coronavirus crisis is putting bike riders at risk on the road.

In a statement read out to Bedford Borough Council’s climate change committee, Peter Blakeman from Bedford Cycling Campaign said that the infrastructure “has made it more hazardous rather than safer for travelling,” reports Bedford Today.

“Motorists are raring to get ahead rather than staying behind a cyclist,” he explained. “And traffic is now coming back after the lockdown is eased.”

However, the Liberal Democrat Councillor Charles Royden, who is the council’s portfolio holder for environment, highways and transport, said it was impossible to create safe space for cyclists while also accommodating extra space for pedestrians.

He said: “It’s really important to point out that you can only have a single lane down the High Street with wider pavements if you, unfortunately, don’t have a cycle lane.

“If we were to put a cycle lane in as well, you’d have an even narrower pavement than we have.”

He also insisted that it was “necessary to keep loading bays,” saying: “We don’t want to kill businesses off.

“Some of those businesses depend on the High Street for delivery of goods.”

Councillor Royden also insisted that the council had received less money from the government than some were saying it had.

He said: “It barely scraped over £30,000 when it materialised. It was less than people had been led to believe.

“It’s unhelpful when these sorts of figures are announced because they raise people’s expectations about what might be delivered.”

In fact, figures disclosed today reveal that in total, the government had allocated £607,000 in emergency funding for walking and cycling to the borough, which is home to more than £107,000 people.

The first tranche of funding has been confirmed, with the actual amounts each local authority across England will receive determined by the Department for Transport’s assessment of how ambitious their plans were.

While most councils will receive all – and in many cases more – of the first tranche funding they had been allocated due to the DfT’s perception of the robustness of their plans, some received only 75 per cent, 50 per cent or, in three cases, just 25 per cent of the sum set aside.

Bedford, along with Blackpool and Rutland, was one of those three and receives £30,250 in first tranche funding instead of the £121,000 it was initially allocated.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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