Now the decision has finally been made to go ahead with the Ely Southern Bypass, work has progressed to the detailed planning and design stage. We’re hoping that we will soon get the first designs for the cycle routes that were promised as part of the scheme.
We have been in discussions with the Councillors, Council Officers and the Ely Allotment Society to ensure the bypass has benefits for those people who want to cycle. During these discussions we’ve been told that the scheme will include two cycle specific improvements.
- Shared use route out to Stuntney
The current cycle route to Stuntney is a footway that has been given shared use status. It crosses the busy A142 several times between Stuntney and Ely. The promised new route will be a continuous wide shared use path. It will run along the same side of the A142 from Ely station all the way to the village.
We have been told the new route will go under the new bypass through an underpass, this is important as otherwise the new road would cut the route and making it pretty much useless.
The new route also gives a cycle and pedestrian route to Ely Allotments, currently only really accessible by car, it connects to NCN11 and it is the first step to getting a cycle route along the A142 from Ely to Soham.
- Two-way cycle lane to the station
There are currently around 300 daily commuters who cycle to the station. This new 2-way route will give them a safe approach to the station.
At the recent Ely Cycle Forum meeting however, both of these were put into doubt due to lack of funding. Yet again it seems that short-sighted decisions that don’t take into account the benefits of cycling to the whole community may win the day. Some of the proposed changes are relatively cheap to do implement when the scheme is being built but extremely expensive afterwards. The underpass connecting Stuntney would be cheap to place into the raised foundations required by the road during construction, for example. As would positioning any 1-way traffic controls so that they gave a safe means for cyclists and pedestrians to access the station. If these are dropped from the plans it will be far too expensive to add them in later. We will have lost the opportunity for decades of safer cycling.
It’s been reported today that obesity is costing the county £47billion a year. One proven way to combat obesity is to provide cycling infrastructure which allows people to get out of their cars and use their bikes instead. Removing the cycle routes from this scheme would show a huge lack of vision by a County Council that is supposedly trying to get more of us cycling.