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Expertise urged on cycle lane design
EXPERTS should be drafted in by councils to design new cycling schemes, according to a York MP who says many projects – including some in his home city – have been poorly designed.
Hugh Bayley, who represents York Central, has suggested to Transport Minister Norman Baker that a professional qualification for “cycling planners” could be created, and the Government should insist local authorities use those who qualify to help them map out their networks.
He said that while most of York’s cycle schemes had been a success, others could have been better designed.
He gave the example of a route in the Leeman Road area which leaves cyclists surrounded by cars. Mr Baker has said he would be prepared to meet the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Royal Town Planning Institute and other bodies to discuss Mr Bayley’s idea.
York received more than £3.6 million to promote cycling between 2008 and 2010 as a Cycling City, and a series of improvements have been carried out in recent years.
However, one City of York Council scheme – at the junction of Clifton Green and Water End – which removed a car lane in 2009 to make more room for cyclists, had to be reversed last year at a cost of £12,000, because of the congestion problems it caused.
Mr Bayley said: “I’m concerned much of the money spent on cycling measures, under the previous and present Governments, is spent badly because planners and engineers who design road systems do not understand cycling well enough.
“York takes cycling seriously and the city has a good record. However, some schemes are poorly designed and the situation in other towns and cities is worse. I think transport planners should be specifically trained to analyse the suitability of road schemes for cyclists, which can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, to ensure safety and avoid money being poorly spent.”
Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “A lot of knowledge and expertise is involved in providing safe cycling facilities and I welcome Hugh’s idea for a proper qualification, which would recognise existing staff with the skills and ensure scheme designs don’t lead to ineffective or unsafe facilities.”
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