‘Manifesto’ to improve conditions for cycling and walking in Somerset

FOR every £1 spent on improving facilities for walking and cycling in Somerset – £13 was spent to improve conditions for drivers, a new report claims.

The statistic features in a new manifesto being presented to Somerset County Council by cycling and walking groups from across the county in a bid to improve things for those using their feet – and bicycles.

More than 60 groups across Somerset have expressed support for a reversal of the county council’s prioritisation of car traffic over walking and cycling in the way roads are designed and resources are prioritised, according the the manifesto writers.

The manifesto has been drafted by members of the Bruton Safer Walking and Cycling, Taunton Area Cycling Campaign and the Bridgwater Area Cycling Campaign.

The first draft was sent to all parish and town councils for their comments and the final ‘consensus’ manifesto takes on board much of the feedback.

Now the three groups are due to meet senior councillors and officers at the county council to discuss how it can be taken forward.

It comes as the Government published ‘Gear Change’, a new plan for cycling and walking.

Campaigners say the plan mirrors the principles of the Somerset manifesto and includes detailed guidance on how to design more equitably for people walking and cycling.

James Hood, one of the authors of the manifesto, said: “Across Somerset the inboxes of town and parish councillors remain full of complaints about speeding traffic and inconsiderate driving and parking.

“As one parish councillor from Cranmore put it, “the major blights on our rural existence are speeding traffic, dangerous roads and inadequate alternatives to car”.

“We are living with the consequences of decades of car-centric planning of our towns, villages and highways. We can and must do better.

“We need to design and build a Somerset in which walking and cycling are safe and attractive choices.

“Having declared a Climate Emergency, and given the new Government guidance and funding, we look forward to our county council taking a strong and active lead.”

Mike Ginger, of the Taunton Area Cycling Campaign, added: “We hope that Somerset County Council will now start to design our streets so that they are safe and attractive to use for people walking and cycling of all ages and abilities.

“This would mean the end to big road junctions with no convenient crossings, excessive guard railing and barriers and negative signing like ‘end of cycleway’.”

Somerset County Gazette | News