Suffolk granted more funding for emergency walking and cycling schemes

Published

We've been awarded more money than expected from the Department for Transport to support our plans for emergency temporary walking and cycling schemes.

Back in May, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £250m investment in swift emergency interventions to make walking and cycling easier and safer during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to avoid over crowding the transport network. The interventions ensure those people who need and want to make essential journeys and take daily exercise by foot or bike can do safely whilst maintaining social distancing.

£337,000 had been allocated to the County Council as the first tranche of its funding, but following its proposed plans being assessed against the DFT criteria it has now been given £376,501 because its proposals were particularly strong.

In line with the guidance from the DFT, Suffolk County Council has already started to make temporary emergency changes to road layouts in Ipswich by closing off sections of roads to motorised vehicles, widening existing footpaths and cycle lanes, providing temporary footpaths and cycle lanes and changing traffic signal timings to reduce waiting times at puffin and toucan crossings.

Work will now continue with other schemes being considered in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Beccles, Felixstowe, Stowmarket and Sudbury. For a full list of the proposed schemes please visit suffolk.gov.uk/walkingandcycling

Not all of the schemes will be delivered by the County Council from the first tranche of its funding from the DFT. However, there is the potential for a second tranche of funding at a later date.

The Government has also asked that evaluation and consultation is included during the emergency interventions put in place so that authorities can make temporary measures permanent where possible, enabling a long-term shift to active travel as the economy moves “from restart to recovery”.

Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said:

“I am delighted that Suffolk County Council has been allocated this additional funding from the Department of Transport. It shows that we as a county are able to meet the Government’s criteria and work at pace to implement workable schemes in an emergency time frame.

"Many residents in Suffolk have embraced walking and cycling during the pandemic, so we have a real opportunity here to make our roads and pavements, especially in the built up areas in our county’s towns, safer not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well. Our aim is to embed active travel - walking and cycling - as part of a long-term habit and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.

“However, it is crucial that any of the measures we put in place work for the majority of people living on or near the streets concerned. We’ve been engaging closely with walking and cycling groups, local communities and councillors, and will continue to do so, to make sure accessibility is maintained for businesses, those with mobility issues and the emergency services, and these conversations will help us as we implement and evaluate our changes.

“Also, it is not just the physical infrastructure on our highway that is going to create safe active travel improvements, it is the soft measures too, which includes updating our cycling maps and marketing campaigns to encourage people to walk and cycle more.”

To provide feedback on any of the schemes as well as to make any recommendations for other locations, please email Suffolk County Council at transport.schemes@suffolk.gov.uk.