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Anger and outrage as Bury St Edmunds 'pop-up' cycle lane to stay for another six months - at least

Shopkeepers say they are outraged, annoyed, and disappointed ‘beyond belief’ after learning a cycle lane is to remain along the road for another six months.

The shopkeepers and businesses have already raised concerns about the cycle lane which was placed along Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, last October.

They say the loss of parking spaces for pick up and drop off has hit their businesses which have already suffered during three periods of lockdown.

Risbygate cycle lane. Picture by Paul Derrick
Risbygate cycle lane. Picture by Paul Derrick

The cycle lane was put up by Suffolk County Council as part of a nationwide Government scheme to encourage cycle, during the pandemic – and long term.

Other lanes are planned for Looms Lane, Northgate Street and Mustow Street, and also Beetons Way and Tollgate Lane.

Consultation for the Risbygate lane, after which a decision was due to be made as to whether it would become permanent, was originally planned to end on March 24.

But Suffolk County Council announced this week this had now been extended by six months to ‘ensure an informed decision could be made’.

John Balaam, who runs Balaam’s Music, said: “To say I am annoyed is to put it mildly. I am outraged, appalled, beyond belief.

“It was put up without consultation, and now extended without consultation.

It is just a cruel imposition when businesses are already suffering due to the pandemic. It is also an eyesore, and unused.

Don Matthews, who runs Ashdown Mobility, said: “The council are obviously not on the same planet as retailers. It will just kill Risbygate Street.

"They are catering for 35-year-olds who cycle when the majority of our population are in the 60s and 70s.

"It's just unvbelievable."

Stuart Bowers, who runs The Risbygate Showroom, said: “If they want to keep the cycle lane, make the street one way.

"We have lost eight parking spaces and people can no longer make drop offs or pick-ups any more either.

"You can’t pick up or drop off a piece of furniture or a piano on a bike.

"They have obviously not got the answers from the surveys they want and are extending it."

Jonathan Howe, of Risbygate Solicitors, said: “"I am a cyclist, I cycle every day and to the office on Risbygate Street, where I have been for 12 years.

"This has not aided cycling; it is a detriment, it has ruined the street as it has taken away any parking, any ability to stop, impeded us for deliveries and the list goes on.

It is also dangerous. Pedestrians are walking along it a lot more than cyclists are cycling up it.

"It needs to be removed as a matter of priority."

West Suffolk Councillor Joanna Rayner, Abbeygate Ward, said: "I have been frustrated from the start how this has been handled.

"They need to listen to businesses and residents."

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson, said: “The experimental active travel measure on Risbygate Street in Bury St Edmunds will be extended for a further six months.

“As we follow the government’s roadmap to recovery, the extra time will ensure sufficient evidence is available to make an informed decision on whether it should become a permanent fixture in the transport network.”

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