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A ten year plan to improve routes for bikes and walkers around Lichfield and Burntwood has been branded “feeble” by a local cycling group.

Staffordshire County Council unveiled the new strategy earlier this week.

Cllr Helen Fisher, cabinet member for transport, said the document was part of a plan to “increase people’s connectivity” across the county.

But the Lichfield Re:Cycle group say the proposals would deliver change “at a walking pace” rather than follow the radical plans in other parts of the country.

“This ten year plan does not address the directive from the Government to urgently tackle social distancing guidance and public transport restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The plan, outlining an investment in excess of £30million over a ten year period to 2031, is focused on main towns and cities and aims to build on recent investment that amounted to £100,000 a year in the Lichfield district.

“It does not give any focus to Burntwood or to the corridors between towns and cities.

“While we would not object to investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, we feel the events of the last two months must seriously question the ambition, speed and scope of the proposed investment.

“This report now looks pretty feeble in comparison to some of the radical and fast-paced responses enabling active travel elsewhere in the country.”

Lichfield Re:Cycle spokesperson

“We need to grasp this opportunity with ambition”

The coronavirus lockdown has seen a surge of people getting in the saddle as other forms of exercise such as gyms became unavailable.

The charity – which supplies bikes on long term loan to local residents – said decision-makers now needed to recognise a change in social attitudes.

“The report released by Staffordshire County Council seeks ways to mitigate the fact that cyclists are perceived as inferior road users compared to other more dominant forms of travel

“People are out there riding now, in great numbers and with increasing confidence, enjoying the recent freedom to travel by bike in good weather and on quiet roads.

“We are playing our part supplying at least twice as many bikes in the last six weeks than at any other equivalent period in our six year existence.

“We continue to provide free long term loan bikes to people and we have responded in an urgent way to do this.

“Cycling is more than merely tolerated at the moment, its accepted and in your face.

“So, now more than ever, we need to grasp this opportunity with ambition. Let’s not wait up to 10 years – let’s do it this summer.”

Lichfield Re:Cycle spokesperson
Helen Fisher

Cllr Fisher said the proposals would help the county council hit national targets to double the number of cycling journeys by 2025.

“I believe we are in an excellent position to move quickly once the funds become available so that we can build on the infrastructure that is already in place.

“We will now be consulting with our district and borough councils, local councillors and communities to seek their support for delivering the recommendations in the plan.” 

Cllr Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council

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  1. As already noted in these pages, if SCC is serious about cycling in this area they could persuade us by constructing a defended 2 way cycle lane between Farewell Lane lights in Burntwood and Edial.

  2. Could we make sure that cycle lanes and new footpaths are not just a line marked on the existing roads. A line on the road has no safety assurance when taking out young cyclists. We need total widening of footpaths to incorporate a dedicated areas for walkers and cyclist as provided in other towns and urban areas. Please Please do not produce a ‘Cheap’ job when you have been given this opportunity to really improve the infrastructure to allow more outdoor activities safely……. Adequate walking and cycle pavements are necessary.

  3. Would it not be useful for the council to ask bike-riders what they think would be useful? I can’t believe that a single cyclist would have said that a non-enforceable brown bike lane like that on the Walsall Rd was in any way “good cycling infrastructure”.

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