LIZ ASHBURN WRITES:
I am often asked about progress (or lack of it) on the section of the Riverside Route along New Road, so in the light of the consultation process currently being run by SLDC on the proposals for the common land used for parking I thought an update was due.
Some time ago Cumbria CC asked Capita to assess the effect on the traffic of closing the inside lane of New Road between Gooseholme footbridge and Miller Bridge. The conclusion of this study was that this would increase traffic congestion slightly, and so Cumbria CC decided that this should not happen, and the cycle route should be located off the highway and run through the proposed open space to be established by SLDC on the area of common land used for parking.
SLDC's proposals for the common land do not include a cycle route, since they consider that this would be best provided on the nearside lane of the highway which is little used by traffic now that Miller Bridge is now narrowed to one lane. Also the legal position of common land is such that a cycle route cannot be located there. SLDC are very keen for the Riverside Route to be completed across this area, and have asked Cumbria CC to reconsider the decision not to use part of the inside lane of the highway for the route. I have had a recent discussion with Mark Brierley (Cumbria CC Cycle Development Officer), who considers that if a decision to locate the route on the inside lane was made, this could not be constructed until the car parking on the common land ceased, as cars enter and leave the parking area most of the way along the nearside of the inside lane.
So it is important that the New Road scheme goes ahead as soon as possible. I have also spoken to Graham Vincent (SLDC Councillor promoting the New Road scheme) and Clare Feaney-Johnson (my Cumbria CC Councillor) who are both very pro Riverside Route and the wider cycle network and appreciate our support.
So... if we are to influence this process the two most useful things that KDCSers can do are;
1. To respond to SLDC's consultation (click here) by pointing out that the absence of a cycle route is noted, and that linking up the recently constructed section of the Riverside Route with the existing cycle route past Waterside should be a high priority and that this section should be located on the underused inside lane of the highway. I will be responding to this as KDCS spokesperson.
2. Email or write to their County councillor in their own words (find your Councillor) to point out
a. That the inside lane is used very infrequently, mostly by cars entering and leaving the illegal parking area on common land.
b. The present situation is unsafe as pedestrians walk in the highway between Gooseholme Bridge and the pelican crossing because there is no footpath along New Road. Frequently people with buggies and pushchairs are forced to use the highway as there is no space between parked cars to get to the pelican crossing.
c. The traffic lanes on New Road are relatively wide, and if they were narrowed to the same dimension as the two lanes in Kirkland then space on the nearside could be created for a cycle route.
d. A high priority should be given to establishing both a footpath and cycle route along New Road to join up the presently fragmented
Riverside Route, address safety issues and fulfill Cumbria CC policies for transport, health and wellbeing and carbon reduction.
I apologise for the length of this update; if you are still reading this I am very grateful! It may seem that nothing is happening, but things are moving behind the scenes, and can be influenced if we can make it clear to our elected representatives that there is widespread support for these measures among the people who elect them.