March 17 2014 Latest news:
Friday, February 21, 2014
Safer cycling campaigners are shifting through the gears as they seek to get a Tour de France legacy under way by the autumn.
There is now real hope that work to introduce a combined cycle and footpath along Wenden Road, Saffron Walden, could begin in six months time if it gets final approval from Essex County Council (ECC).
The authority has announced a one-day public consultation and exhibition to showcase its proposed design in the town hall next Wednesday (February 26).
Campaign group Access Walden has called on people to throw their weight behind the scheme – which should bring safer conditions for walkers and cyclists along the “dangerous” route towards Audley End station.
Spokesman James Savage said: “For more than 20 years residents have expressed the need to make Wenden Road safe for walkers and cyclists and this is the closest we’ve got to achieving that goal.
“We hope that residents will visit the exhibition in large numbers – both at the town hall and online – to give their views and express their support for what ECC is now proposing. At our own consultation in 2012 we had over 1,600 people, so we would be delighted if this ECC consultation had a similar response from the community.”
ECC officers have prepared drawings of their preliminary designs for the route. These have yet to be finalised but include a short one-way section with segregated facilities for walkers and cyclists on the north-eastern part of the route nearest to the town.
Access Walden has “largely welcomed” the scheme, believed to cost in the region of £200,000, and see it as a stepping stone for greater safety measures in the future.
Mr Savage added: “Although the scheme is a compromise from what residents had overwhelmingly chosen at our public exhibition of options in September 2012, it will significantly reduce the volume of two-way traffic on Wenden Road and includes some helpful safety features that can protect cyclists/pedestrians and encourage lower speeds.
“Critically, as an initial step, it formally assigns part of the route as a cycle/footpath with a commitment from ECC to implement further route development at a later stage.”
Residents will have the opportunity to respond online for a short period after the exhibition, which runs from 2pm to 8pm. Details about how will be posted on the Access Walden website as soon as they are available.
Following the consultation, the responses from the public will be taken into account and, provided the community is behind the scheme, a more detailed final design will be drawn up, complete with costings and a road safety audit. If all goes to plan, work could begin as early as two months after the Tour de France passes through Uttlesford on Monday, July 7.