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'Unwanted' pop-up cycle lanes in Bury St Edmunds ‘must be stopped’




A disabled mum has blasted council bosses over plans to create new ‘emergency’ pop-up cycle lanes outside her house.

Jill Woodward, 50, said that cycle paths along Tollgate Lane, Bury St Edmunds , will cause her ‘immense problems’ and has called for them to be stopped.

Mrs Woodward is one of hundreds of people who protested earlier this week over the closure of the junction at Tollgate Lane and Lancaster Avenue to help create the cycle paths.

Jill Woodward says the cycle lanes are discriminatory. Picture by Mecha Morton
Jill Woodward says the cycle lanes are discriminatory. Picture by Mecha Morton

The junction closure was put on hold on Monday – but the cycle paths along Tollgate Lane and neighbouring Beetons Way are still due to go ahead.

“The county council do not seem to understand the stress and upset this has caused, not only for me, but for everyone” said the mum-of-four.

“I am not one for the limelight but I feel I have no choice but to speak out about this."

Residents are concerned about a number of potential problems.
Residents are concerned about a number of potential problems.

“We are not against cycle paths but it is the underhand way it has been done. It has been rushed through with hardly any notice.

“People are angry. None of us has been consulted and they must be stopped.

“I have food deliveries every week, and do most of my shopping online as I can’t get out often.

“I live in a road where there are elderly people, children who have special needs and they haven’t thought about any of us. One of my neighbours has already been in tears because of the anxiety this is causing.

Billy Wappett, who is leading the protest campaign, and residents from Tollgate Lane.
Billy Wappett, who is leading the protest campaign, and residents from Tollgate Lane.

“Doctors, ambulances, delivery vehicles won’t be able to stop in the middle of the road, and it will be absolute chaos.

“Emergency planning is one thing, discrimination is another.”

Suffolk County Council was awarded £376,501 in July to install cycle lanes around the county through the government’s emergency Active Travel Fund.

Finished lanes in Risbygate Street. Picture by Paul Derrick
Finished lanes in Risbygate Street. Picture by Paul Derrick

The Government wants to make cycling and walking ‘easier and safer’ during the pandemic.

At the time Suffolk County announced: “We’ve been awarded more money than expected from the Department for Transport to support our plans for emergency temporary walking and cycling schemes’ – ‘because its (the council’s) proposals were particularly strong’.

Many residents in Suffolk have embraced walking and cycling during the pandemic, so we have a real opportunity to make our roads and pavements safer not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well. Suffolk County Council

The Suffolk cycle path locations had already been identified as part of a five-year-plan, and for possible permanent use, by a cross-party group, when the emergency funding became available

Work carried out in the first phase of the funding allows the cycle paths to be installed with one week’s notice, on a six-month trial basis, with consultation during this time, rather than before.

According to the council, it has been instructed by the government to ‘work at pace’, and that all work is being carried out according to government guidelines. Any money not spent by the end of October, has to be returned.

Last Monday, the closure of the junction at Tollgate Lane and Lancaster Avenue as part of the cycle path plan was put on hold for further consultation after more than 300 residents signed a protest petition.

Tollgate resident Billy Wappett, 62, who has been leading the protest campaign, said: “The cycle lanes on Tollgate Lane and Beetons Way are still planned to go ahead. We don’t want them, even for six months.

“This is an area where many already suffer social deprivation, and where we have elderly people, handicapped people, and disabled people.

“People will also lose parking spaces outside their houses, it will drive traffic into the Howard and Mildenhall estates, and where will people park when they come to collect their kids from the three schools nearby?

“We are not against cycle paths, we would have helped and have ideas ourselves. But they think they know better, are rushing this through so as not to lose the money, and people are furious.

They haven't even thought of all the drains, gutters, tree roots and potholes the cyclist will have to cope with. And it's winter. Billy Wappett

Tollgate resident Elaine Carpenter, 54, said: “In this road, there are residents who are elderly, others have carers, some are disabled. We were only given only a week’s notice by letter, which many residents didn’t even receive.

“Our community came together during lockdown and we are not standing for this, short, or long term.”

One cycle path has been already been completed in Risbygate Street. A second on Northgate Street and Mustow Street was this week put on hold, due to county council concerns over public and workmen safety, during construction.

West Suffolk Councillor Diane Hind said: “The prospect of cycle lanes in Tollgate Lane is causing great distress to many residents particularly those without a driveway and especially to the vulnerable or disabled who rely on care support, nursing care, meal deliveries.

“Residents are also worried that Tollgate Lane is not wide enough to accommodate two cycle lanes and still allow two larger vehicles to pass. I have therefore asked the county council to pause the installation of the cycle paths until any consultation is completed.”

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