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Roads changing to benefit cyclists & pedestrians

Thursday, June 4th, 2020 7:47am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter and Paul Nero

Cost could be £4 million

'Active travel' - which means an emphasis on walking and cycling - is being promoted as the way forward for travel after the pandemic. 

During lockdown, traffic levels reduced substantially, leading to many calls for a long-lasting change in travel patterns. Now Devon County Council is expecting to receive £338,000 of 'emergency active travel' funding from the Department for Transport (DfT). And that could be just the start. They're going to apply for £1.3 million more later this year.

More than 200 extra cycle parking spaces have already been installed in Devon, including new spaces in Exeter city centre, at the RD&E, Heavitree, Whipton, Topsham, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Teignmouth, Ivybridge, Barnstaple and Tavistock.

Further temporary measures will be introduced over the coming weeks and will be implemented as soon as contractors are available. These will be “pop-up” facilities to provide wider areas for walkers and cyclists which support social distancing, while also segregating them from traffic. The focus  is on Exeter, Barnstaple, Bideford and Newton Abbot, but other market and coastal towns will also have the opportunity to benefit from a share of this initial funding. Plymouth and Torbay are not part of the Devon County Council area.

In Exeter, "pop-up" cycleways will be created linking -

- Newcourt/Pynes Hill to the city centre with a 4km "quiet route" with point closures on Ludwell Lane, Dryden Road and Wonford Road to remove through traffic and improve access for RD&E key workers;

- Making Magdalen Road one-way towards Western Way between St Leonards Road and Denmark Road with a contraflow cycleway and widened footway;

- A 3.5km quiet route from Monkerton/Whipton to the city centre through residential areas in Whipton and Heavitree connecting housing to major employment sites in the city centre, Sowton and Exeter Science Park. This will be developed by removing through traffic with point closures and or one-ways on residential streets. A temporary crossing and temporary cycle route on Polsloe Road;

- Improved foot and cycle access to the city centre via South Street, Fore Street and North Street, including widening of footways with temporary barriers on key pedestrian and public transport routes to the city centre, including additional space around busy Cowick Street bus stops.

In Barnstaple, temporary restrictions will be introduced to extend the current town centre pedestrianised area. This will support social distancing and improve cycling links into the town centre, with additional pop-up cycle parking facilities. Existing public transport routes will be maintained, and discussions are being held on proposals to install temporary restrictions to remove traffic except for buses, cycles and emergency vehicles on the A3125 Longbridge.

In Bideford, a temporary one-way system for pedestrians will be introduced on narrow pavements and streets within the town centre. Sections of on-street parking will be removed from the High Street, disabled parking will be introduced on High Street and Bridgeland Street. The road through Manor Park will be closed in order to provide extra space for pedestrians and pop-up cycle parking as well as space for bus passengers to wait safely. A one-way system for pedestrians will incorporate the Longbridge footpaths and a temporary pedestrian crossing will be needed on the A386.

In Newton Abbot, on-street parking will be removed along 450 metres of Queen Street, to enable the widening of footpaths for social distancing. Some parking spaces will be retained, along with some loading bays and bus stops. The scheme reflects aspirations being developed under the Future High Streets Fund.

Temporary crossings will be provided on the east-west shared use path at Exeter Road, Jetty Marsh Road and Ashburton Road. This will improve safety for residents and will encourage sustainable travel on a safe, convenient and direct route to education, employment sites and the town centre.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, said: “We’re as keen as everyone else to get on with this work and I appreciate that there is a lot of expectation, particularly as people will have seen the traffic order notices going up on some roads. As soon as contractors are available, we will be looking to get these temporary ‘pop-up’ measures in place.

“Unfortunately, there’s only a limited amount we can do with the initial payment of £338,000 but we want this funding to have the maximum possible impact to support active travel habits. A lot of work and planning is going into making sure we can submit a successful bid for further funding of £1.35 million that is potentially on offer to us, to make an even bigger difference in improving opportunities for walking and cycling.”

In 2020/21, Devon County Council is also funding the delivery of the next sections of the strategic east-west cycle route in Exeter (£1.3 million) which includes the new Summer Lane bridge and segregated paths on Exhibition Way, as well as over £1 million supporting market and coastal town walking and cycle routes and leisure trails, making a total investment in these schemes of about £4 million.

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