Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A new Strand cycle route could soon see 9,000 cyclists every month mingling with pedestrians, children and the elderly.
That’s the fear of the town council if a county-backed town centre cycle route is approved.
But Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity that drew up the plans, says it will boost tourism, writes David Beasley.
Journeys on the Exe Estuary Trail have rocketed by 60 per cent in five years – to 110,000 journeys a year.
And a new route through the town would seamlessly link the Topsham-Lympstone-Exmouth network to the Budleigh route via Manchester Street, The Strand, the Chapel Hill Roundabout, Bath Road, the seafront and finally Douglas Avenue.
Signs at Mudbank Lane would point cyclists to the Exmouth-Starcross ferry, effectively linking up with the soon-to-be completed route west of Powderham Castle. But although town councillors approved the start of a year-long trial this autumn, on Monday many expressed serious concerns.
Deputy mayor Bill Nash said: “We cannot have cyclists coming through The Strand.
“There are too many events and too many people.
“With Remembrance Sunday and so on we simply can’t have cyclists.
“My wife was knocked off her bike while riding with our six-year-old granddaughter on Saturday on the cycle path, because of someone, cycling probably 30mph, dressed in Lycra.
“Children and older people were also cycling and walking at the same time.
“I really am against this.”
Cyclepath Exmouth member and Sustrans ranger John Petty said: “We want to ensure visitors to Exmouth don’t come in one end and go out the other and say ‘Where’s Exmouth?’
“Sustrans have long wanted to put a route through the town centre.
“The Sustrans definition of a safe route is one where a competent ten-year-old can be left to ride it.
“They have concluded that it is satisfactory for them to number it a national cycle network route.
“In principle we have complete agreement from Devon County Council.”
Councillor Pauline Stott said that with The Strand’s outdoor cafes and ‘children running around’ a town centre route would be ‘dangerous’.
Councillor Sandy MacQueen had concerns about traffic at the Avenues end, adding: “What will the traffic be like when Plumb Park comes into force and during the time it is being built?”