Cycling success, but more must be done to beat congestion

Cycle parking at the station
Cycle parking at the station

Eight years on from Leighton Buzzard securing Cycling Town status the number of people opting for two wheels over four is still increasing, recent statistics show.

The Cycling Town project resulted in a £1 million investment in promoting cycling and improving facilities for cyclists.

This is having a hugely positive effect on the town’s traffic and air pollution levels by taking significant numbers of cars off the road, according to the town’s cycle campaign group Leighton BuzzCycles.

Trips to the railway station in Linslade are a prime example of this continued rise in cycling. BuzzCycles has been counting bikes there since 2008 and estimates that, thanks to the investment by Central Bedfordshire Council in cycle parking, there have been 20,000 fewer journeys by car through central Linslade per year.

Improvements to routes for cyclists, such as the Black Bridge cycle route, the cycle contraflow on Church Road and 20mph speed limits on roads around the station are also making a difference in encouraging more people to realise the benefits of choosing to cycle rather than drive.

Peter Bate, of Leighton BuzzCycles, is keen to stress however that more work still needs to be done to make a real difference to traffic levels in our growing town.

He said: “The levels of congestion at peak times is putting people off who would like to cycle. Better dedicated cycle routes which don’t stop and start and which give people a real alternative to using the busy roads are what is needed. The ‘easy bits’ of the cycling network have been done, it is time now to build on that investment and to tackle the more challenging sections to complete the routes.”

Peter urges local councillors to recognise the economic, health and social benefits of proper investment in cycling and not to take a step backwards and remove existing cycling infrastructure.

He says in this way Leighton Buzzard and Linslade can be better equipped to cope with what will inevitably be a rising population attempting to move about the town.