Massive public show of support for safer cycling and walking in Saffron Walden
NEARLY 1,000 people gathered on Sunday to show their support for a safe and attractive cycle and walking route to be established along the Wenden Road connecting Saffron Walden and Audley End station.
The cross-community event along the Wenden Road was organised by Access Walden, with support from other cycle and walking campaign groups, who pointed to the massive turnout as evidence of the strong desire amongst local people for a suitable permanent solution to the long-standing problem of the lack of a safe cycling and walking facility connecting the town and the station.
One of the event organisers, James Savage, said: “We’re absolutely delighted by the number of people who turned out to demonstrate their support, and have been impressed by the passion with which many have spoken about the need for a safe and attractive route along Wenden Road.
“We counted over 800 people on the road, though we believe the final turnout was nearer to 1,000. This is an overwhelming number calling on our district and county councils to take decisive action.”
From commuter to leisure and club cyclists, walkers, runners, skaters, roller-bladers, people with pushchairs and even one brave soul on a unicycle, people of all ages enjoyed the three-hour road closure weaving their way up and down the route and creating a carnival atmosphere.
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Just after 11am, the huge crowd streamed out of Uttlesford District Council offices towards Wenden Road where they stopped to take in information on cycling and walking and progress in the campaign, and to pledge their support for a dedicated cycle and footpath.
Access Walden spokesman Martin Johnson said: “The clear challenge from Essex and Uttlesford councils is to demonstrate that there is real public interest in a dedicated cycle/footpath, to prove that - if built - people would use it. That’s sensible, since we need to know there’ll be a decent return on this investment.
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“The huge turnout and the pledges people have made to use a safe route here clearly demonstrates the level of latent demand that exists in and around Saffron Walden, and provides important evidence for the potential health, safety and environmental benefits that will accrue from such investment.”
A design study for a potential route is being carried out by Essex County Council although no details have yet been shared with local advocates and potential users of the route.
Access Walden - which collected 3,000 signatures on a petition earlier this year - is developing the evidence base and intends to present it to the county council in the coming weeks.
More details and participants’ feedback can be found at facebook.com/accesswalden