Have your say over plans to increase walking and cycling in Central Bedfordshire

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Phase 1 plans cover Ampthill and Flitwick; Leighton Buzzard; Biggleswade; Sandy; Arlesey and Stotfold; and Dunstable and Houghton Regis

Adopting a healthier and greener approach to travel across Central Bedfordshire is central to a new strategy being developed by the local authority to increase the number of trips made on foot or by bicycle.

Work is under way to develop a suite of cycling and walking infrastructure plans for the locality (LCWIPs) to identify improvements required in the area, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive.

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“The next stage is to begin engagement with residents, members and other key stakeholders, the outcomes of which will shape the final plans,” said the report. “The proposals will be consulted on with a view to formal adoption by CBC.

Work is under way to develop a suite of cycling and walking infrastructure plansWork is under way to develop a suite of cycling and walking infrastructure plans
Work is under way to develop a suite of cycling and walking infrastructure plans

“The government’s cycling strategy called Gear Change places a renewed emphasis on the provision of high-quality infrastructure for active travel.

“Cycle way standards called LTN1/20 have been introduced and the Department for Transport has set up an executive body called Active Travel England to oversee, inspect and manage funding for cycling infrastructure.”

Conservative Stotfold and Langford councillor Steve Dixon told the executive: “The aim is to continue the pace in Central Bedfordshire of moving towards more active travel process.

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“We’ve had some good feedback already from earlier engagement,” he explained. “The report seeks support for the consultation process.

“There’s a note about green wheels. We’re using Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) to deliver these because this needs to align with anything we’re doing.

“This is quite challenging for rural authorities. There’s the element of enforcement of parking and cycle lanes. There’s a strong feeling the LTN1/20 standard is urban, rather than particularly rural.

“That’s been raised with Active Travel England and has been recognised,” added the executive member for sustainability and transformation councillor Dixon.

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“So I’m hopeful we might see a little leniency in those standards being interpreted.”

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Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock said: “I welcome the government’s new strategy. It’s so important to encourage our population to become active.

“Covid has taught us it’s important to get out for our health and wellbeing, particularly around our mental health, and I’m pleased the green wheels are being delivered and play a role into this.”

LCWIPs will ensure consideration of cycling and walking within both local planning and transport policies and strategies, as well as make the case for future funding for appropriate infrastructure, added the report.

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“The LTN 1/20 standard has been the focus of the past 12 months, which indicates cyclists must be accommodated as a separate traffic stream and be provided with dedicated infrastructure within the public highway on all but the quietest roads.

“Locally phase one would see six LCWIPs produced for the larger towns and their hinterlands. This includes.

“Phase two would see a further three, one for other towns of more than 2,000 residents, one for strategic routes and one for rural routes.”

The executive agreed delegated approval to the director of place and communities to approve CBC’s proposals to go for public consultation.