£1m St. Annes cycle lane extension 'worth the money' because of the benefits it will bring, Green Party says
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A public consultation is drawing to a close on plans to lengthen a stretch of shared cycleway and footpath on Clifton Drive North, which has been in operation only 18 months.
Lancashire County Council intends to fund the 270-metre project - between Highbury Road West and Todmorden Road - with money that the authority has received from the government to promote so-called “active travel”, like bike-riding and walking.
As The Gazette revealed last week, one local resident has blasted the suggested scheme, claiming that an average of just six cyclists an hour are using a key junction which has been used to justify the additional length. However, County Hall says that another part of the current route has seen more than 1,000 riders travel along it in a single day.
While steering clear of the row about usage stats, Ruth Norbury, from Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, says that any high-quality upgrades to cycling and walking infrastructure are “a fabulous investment for our economy” - and cites specifics about the proposed path which she believes make the project particularly worthwhile.
“The average return on each pound spent [on similar schemes] is around £5-6 - a very high benefit-to-cost ratio. Bringing this investment to St. Annes is a wonderful opportunity for local businesses, as retail spend can increase by up to 30 percent following walking and cycling improvements.
“The current path ends a significant distance from St. Annes shopping centre and it is not possible to continue into the town safely, as people cycling are then abruptly merged with a busy road.
“Many studies identify that inadequate and unsafe cycling facilities are the biggest barrier to active travel. Providing safe and accessible routes has been shown to increase rates of cycling and walking, particularly amongst women and other vulnerable road users.
“The Department for Transport has predicted that road traffic will increase by up to 54 percent between 2025 and 2060 - we can’t build ourselves out of this mess. Allowing people to cycle in safety would help to combat congestion, giving people safe alternatives to driving, as well as allowing those who do need to drive the space to do so,” Ruth added.
The consultation closes on 23rd November.