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New emergency cycle and walk paths in Bury St Edmunds cause concern

The proposed closure of a key road as part of a scheme to introduce more ‘safe cycling and walking’ routes has prompted concern.

Suffolk County Council has been awarded £337,000 government funding to make walking and cycling ‘easier and safer’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is part of a nationwide package designed to encourage people to cycle and walk rather than overcrowding public transport networks.

Councillor Diane Hind at the junction of Philip Road and Tollgate Lane. Picture by Mecha Morton
Councillor Diane Hind at the junction of Philip Road and Tollgate Lane. Picture by Mecha Morton

But one of the planned new cycle and walk routes, at Beetons Way and Tollgate Lane, Bury St Edmunds , has caused concern, with the proposed closure of Philip Road.

“I arranged a site visit with a county officer to look at the pop-up cycle plans and also point out that closing Philip Road would simply displace traffic elsewhere until the Tollgate junction is upgraded,” said West Suffolk councillor Diane Hind.

“I was told the plans could include closing Lancaster Avenue as well, which I felt was likely to simply move the rat-running to even fewer roads across Mildenhall Road and Howard estates.

“I think the scheme has a lot of good aims and is very laudible but have expressed concern about the whole project without full consultation with residents, and I insisted that councillors for St Olaves ward should also be informed.

“I’m also still waiting for further details from county officers on exactly how the closure of Philip Road might be achieved. Closing one end completely would leave one single entrance and exit from the road. How would this impact on emergency vehicles and the bin lorries?”

Councillor Paul Hopfensperger echoed Cllr Hind's concerns over consultation with the suggestion that traffic restrictions could be placed between St Olaves Road and Oakes Road.

"This is a just a bolt out of the blue," he said.

"What we need is proper joined-up thinking for the whole area."

According to Suffolk County Council, the cycle and walk plans are being implemented within government guidelines under the emergency Active Travel Fund.

If the routes fall within the first phase of funding, the measures can be installed on an ‘emergency’ and experimental basis, after which full consultation will take place.

They could then be removed.

However, the spokesperson added that it was unclear whether the works in Bury, which also include Risbygate and Northgate Street, would be carried out during this phase, measured against others already taking place around the county.

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