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Bury St Edmunds Risbygate cycle lane 'still unpopular' after 12 months - despite council claims people think it is 'working well'



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Only two in 10 people think a controversial 'pop-up' cycle lane is working well, or very well, a freedom of information request has revealed.

This compares with more than five in 10 people who think the lane is either not working well, or not working at all.

The cycle lane in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, was created in September 2020 under ‘emergency powers’ in line with a Government drive to make cycling safer during the pandemic, and for which Suffolk County Council won central funding.

Risbygate cycle lane has been the subject of a consultation. Picture by Paul Derrick
Risbygate cycle lane has been the subject of a consultation. Picture by Paul Derrick

This meant lanes could be created, using bollards, immediately, on a six month trial basis with consultation to follow.

A public survey was launched during the first six months.

An early FOI request by town councillor Donna Higgins to the county council, showed that of 1,145 respondents, 13.3 percent thought it was working very well, 9.4 per cent thought it was working well, 13.4 per cent were undecided, 21.6 per cent thought it was not working well, 35.5 per cent thought it was not working at all.

The survey was extended for a further six months however as the county council didn’t feel responses gathered during the pandemic ‘were sufficient’ to decide if it should be kept permanently.

Chris Pask of Primal 8, John Balaam of Balaam's Music, and Peter Webb of Webb Jewellers, say the lane has hit their business. Picture by Mark Westley
Chris Pask of Primal 8, John Balaam of Balaam's Music, and Peter Webb of Webb Jewellers, say the lane has hit their business. Picture by Mark Westley

Some shopkeepers along the road were outraged, saying the lane had harmed their businesses, was hardly used and had created ‘traffic chaos’.

In November 2021, the council claimed the lane was becoming more popular, saying: “Responses show that over the 11 months, public opinion on the scheme has become more positive with 67 per cent of responses in the last quarter (three months) showing that people thought the scheme was working well.”

However a Freedom of Information request by Suffolk News reveals that during the whole of the second six month period, of the 151 people who took part, 26.4 per cent thought it was working very well, 8.6 per cent thought it was working well, 3.9 per cent were undecided, 23.1 per cent thought it was not working well and 37.7 per cent thought the scheme was not working at all.

This shows for the full 12 month period, a combined 24.7 per cent thought it was working very well or working well, 12.2 per cent were undecided, and a combined 57.3 per cent thought it was not working well or not working at all.

Suffolk County Council has been asked to comment on what the future holds for the lane.