Getting around Bath and North East Somerset on foot or by bike will be made easier under proposals put forward by the council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) for additional funding.
Ten new ambitious schemes to provide better walking and cycling routes and ease the pressure on public transport as well as helping improve people’s health have been identified by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The proposals could see a new cycle route along Upper Bristol Road, a cycle route which could also cater for e-scooters, if approved for use in the region, along North Road to the university, low traffic routes at Entry Hill and improvements to the off-road cycle path from Bath Spa University to the city.
The council and WECA have been asked by the Department for Transport to put schemes forward for it to consider funding under its Emergency Active Travel Fund to support more walking and cycling as part of the response to Covid-19.
Councillor Joanna Wright, joint cabinet member for Transport Services, said:
Helping people get around our area safely and sustainably is a key priority for us. Ten schemes have been identified which will form the council’s bid for money from the Department for Transport.
In May Government announced a £250 million emergency active travel fund, which was split into two different tranches. We successfully bid for funding under the first tranche which has paid for temporary footpath widening and access restrictions which have helped enable social distancing.
Now the council has been asked to bid for a second tranche of funding to help it create better walking and cycling routes. If successful this will also support our longer-term ambitions for Liveable Neighbourhoods and help improve air quality, health as well as contributing to the council’s climate emergency commitment.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said:
Creating safe routes for people to walk and cycle is a key part of my plan to get the region moving.
We’re already seeing traffic in some parts of the region returning to 80% of pre-Covid levels so we need to work hard to create the positive legacy we would all like to see.
I’ve already made £13m funding available to create safe cycling and walking routes in the region and with Government funding, these schemes will help us create a step-change in sustainable transport provision in the West of England.
One of the proposed schemes is an e-scooter and cycling route in North Road where there is an urgent need to provide a safe and alternative way to and from the city for students and staff at the university to ease the pressure on public transport.
Another scheme on the list aims to provide better opportunities for walking and cycling to the Royal United Hospital with a new contraflow cycling facility on Locksbrook Road and removing through traffic. The scheme would provide an alternative route to the riverside path for cyclists going to and from the RUH which is at capacity.
A further scheme from Bath city centre to Lansdown could see a cycle route by creating ‘quiet streets’ between Gay Street and Sion Hill area, removing through-traffic to allow more cycling and walking trips between the Lansdown area of Bath which includes a Bath Spa University campus, several schools and the city centre, where there are currently no cycle facilities. A further four schemes are proposed for the city centre.
Councillor Wright added:
We are all being asked to consider more active ways of travel and rethink our vehicle use. We want to work with residents to solve existing traffic and environmental problems and create a connected district fit for the future and play our part in tackling the Climate Emergency.
For each scheme, although those most affected would be consulted directly, any member of the public will have the opportunity to comment and express their views before decisions are made on schemes being made permanent, and we will let people know how they can do this.
The ability to progress some or all of the schemes relies on funding from the government. WECA expects to receive feedback on its submission to the DfT on behalf of the council over the next couple of months.