'At least half of all journeys in Leighton-Linslade should be walked or cycled by 2030'

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At least half of all journeys in Leighton-Linslade should be walked or cycled by 2030 - this is the bold new vision aimed at fighting climate change and congestion.

At the latest full council meeting in The White House, Peter Bate, of BuzzCycles, presented a strategy to achieve this ambitious target, which councillors agreed to support.

To make it "a realistic first choice" for everyone, proposals included introducing a 20mph default across the whole town (with special exemptions for 30mph); completing the east-west Clipstone Corridor, creating cycle routes to 'south Leighton' new housing, and designing a series of low-traffic streets and neighbourhoods.

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In the meantime - emphasising how easy everyday changes could be - the BuzzCycles strategy 'Cycling: Everyone’s First Choice' states: "Leighton Linslade itself is an ideal place to get around by bike with most journeys taking 30 minutes or less and few steep hills.

Leighton Buzzard town centre bicycle parking. Photo: BuzzCyclesLeighton Buzzard town centre bicycle parking. Photo: BuzzCycles
Leighton Buzzard town centre bicycle parking. Photo: BuzzCycles

"The increased uptake of cycling during the Covid lockdown has shown that there is a pent-up demand for cycling and that, given the opportunity, many more people would choose to cycle for regular journeys."

In fact, all residents live within a 20-minute bike ride of the town centre - a ten-minute ride for the majority - while it takes less than half an hour to cycle right across town.

Writing in the strategy's foreword, avid cyclist and South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, said: "We already have a good cycle network – our existing roads and streets.

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"The only problem is that they are full of cars, both moving and parked. We have a chance, through the promotion, incentivising and normalising of cycling for travel, to transform our town into a cleaner, healthier, more liveable community space, filled with people not cars.

Do you cycle to town? Image BuzzCycles.Do you cycle to town? Image BuzzCycles.
Do you cycle to town? Image BuzzCycles.

"The first transport choice for most people living and travelling in our town must become the bicycle. In order to make space for cycling we need to reduce car use and car dependency.

"And, in line with national targets, we need to work towards the target that at least half of all journeys in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade are walked or cycled by 2030."

Indeed, during 2020 the UK government published two "ground breaking documents" setting out its vision for cycling as a “mass transit form of travel", meanwhile Central Bedfordshire Council has adopted its own Sustainability Plan in which it agrees to several measures, including investment in strategic active travel, and improving cycling facilities and paths.

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‘Cycling: Everyone’s First Choice' states: "Getting people out of cars and giving them a real choice to travel by bike or on foot would have a huge impact on local global warming emissions.

Cycling in Leighton-Linslade. Image: BuzzCycles.Cycling in Leighton-Linslade. Image: BuzzCycles.
Cycling in Leighton-Linslade. Image: BuzzCycles.

"According to UK government statistics, in 2015, the transport sector emitted 24 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 29% of its CO2."

Meanwhile, it was emphasised that looking after the planet would also create "healthier, happier communities" and "safer streets".

The Town Council has now ask BuzzCycles to bring forward specific proposals for schemes the council could assist with, while it "welcomes the development by Central Bedfordshire Council of a ‘Walking & Cycling Infrastructure Plan’” and "looks forward" to further consultation on this document.

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To read about the proposals in 'Cycling: Everyone’s First Choice' click here.

> What’s your view on the cycling/walking target for 2030? Is it achievable? Do you cycle or walk currently, and if not why not? Email views to [email protected]