Friday, 13 March 2009

Don't let the wheels fall off sustainable transport initatives.

For almost a year now I have been cycling 15 miles to work along the A12. On one of my first forays to find the optimum route I tried using this cycle path signed alongside the A12 at the B1121 turning to Saxmundham. Alas, I got cut to bits by brambles overhanging the path and progress was so slow avoiding the root eruptions and vegetation in the tarmac, I have avoided it ever since.

I hoped that someone would notice this and at some time the highways department or whoever is responsible would do something. I was being naive, wasn't I?

After a year of passing it every day and seeing nothing done, I decided to take some action. I posted a report on Fix My Street, which was duly sent to the relevant bodies but it has had no response. I have since forwarded it to Sustrans who have alerted their area manager. A few days ago the sign marking the cycle path fell over as the base has rusted through. Perhaps if someone cycles into it and breaks their neck there will be an investigation.

I wondered though, why on earth is this cycle path here anyway? It is evidently not of any useful length and so qualifies as one of the ironically called 'facilities of the month'. It's quite apparently not really a cycle path at all but just a footpath hurriedly designated as a cycle path.

Was creating a 300 metre cycle path some sort of boondoggle, so the SCC can then proudly claim to have instigated cycle paths for their 'green' credentials, which are so important for securing further central govt. funding now?

I am all for local govt. providing such facilities for cyclists but it strikes me as absurd that after spending the money to install this cycle path, nothing is spent or done to maintain it afterwards so that it becomes useless. This is a colossal waste of money. Cycle routes and sustainable transport cannot really be created in a piecemeal fashion nor are they 'set and forget'.

It appears that transport planners are now hoping to use parking charges to fund further sustainable transport initatives. I hope they think carefully about the long term management of whatever they come up with before wasting that funding all over again. The local bus companies might want to take up my suggestion (alongside one for a Blyth Valley cycle path) of putting cycle racks on buses so that buses as well as trains can become part of a chain of sustainable transport modes. According to the CTC (despite the USA's litigation climate) 25% of the United States' bus fleet carries bikes on racks on the front. There is now a service in Wales aimed at the recreational user which has put racks on the back of the buses.

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