'People can be resistant to change': Peterborough councillors say public acceptance shouldn't be a barrier to new bike routes

Councillors have also suggested Bridge Street in Peterborough should be shared by pedestrians and cyclists
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Public acceptance shouldn’t be a priority when deciding on new bike routes, a Peterborough City Council (PCC) focus group has said.

The group, made up of PCC staff, cross-party councillors and local cycling campaigns and charities, agreed that this metric should be removed from the council's decision-making processes when it comes to cycling policy.

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Chair Cllr Heather Skibsted (Greens) explained at a PCC meeting this week that the group arrived at this recommendation because it felt public acceptance “shouldn’t be a barrier to building cycle paths that comply with regulations”.

Bridge Street in Peterborough could be shared by pedestrians and cyclists in the futureBridge Street in Peterborough could be shared by pedestrians and cyclists in the future
Bridge Street in Peterborough could be shared by pedestrians and cyclists in the future

“We know that people can be resistant to change,” she continued, “but in order to be more radical and serious about enabling these cycle routes we can’t allow this to direct our plans”.

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Public acceptance is currently one of the metrics considered when prioritising which bike routes to implement in the council's overarching cycling infrastructure policy.

Removing this was one of several proposals the focus group made to the council’s environment scrutiny committee this week, which also included new cycle routes that should be considered for development.

Councillors raised concerns over bikes on Bridge StreetCouncillors raised concerns over bikes on Bridge Street
Councillors raised concerns over bikes on Bridge Street

'Pedestrians and cyclists should share Bridge Street'

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Among them is a 'Peterborough circular’ taking cyclists around the city's perimeter and across Bridge Street.

But Cllr Graham Casey (Conservatives) questioned how “realistic” it is to have people cycling separately from all the footfall on the busy city centre street.

Cllr Judy Fox (Peterborough First) also raised concerns over cyclists riding too quickly along the street and almost knocking into people which Cllr John Fox (Peterborough First) put down to a lack of enforcement.

Cllr Skibsted said that this issue could be addressed by having clear marcations which would make the street a shared walking and cycling route.

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She added that it's "imperative" to make cycling more attractive as it has fallen by six per cent in Peterborough since 2017 when the council has said it will double it by 2025.

Other routes the group proposed include a route between the the railway station and the city centre and a route between the railway station and the rowing lake to the west of the city.

It added that new projects would be funded by money the council receives from the Department for Transport (DfT) via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).

'Barriers on cycle paths should be removed'

The group also made several other recommendations such as developing a cycling strategy specifically for rural areas and planting more trees along new and existing cycle paths.

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All were accepted without amendment, except that obstacles to cyclists such as staggered barriers and traffic signals which give priority to cars over bikes should be removed throughout the city.

Cllr Casey said that people “zooming along” on motorbikes and illegal electric scooters would be able to use cycle paths “with impunity” if barriers were removed and that they can stop children cycling into roads.

But he added that he "understands" the need to allow mobility scooters through.

Trevor McSparron, from the Peterborough Cycle Forum campaign group, responded that it’s a “misconception” barriers stop motorbikes and that they in fact enable them by stopping police from being able to catch up with them and that they “inhibit active travel”.

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Regardless, Cllr Casey made the formal recommendation that councillors should be consulted before barriers are removed as they may have local knowledge about why they were put in in the first place.

Having passed through the environment scrutiny, the recommendations will now be passed to PCC’s cabinet.