People walking and cycling in a park

Greens slam Council's "low ambition" cycling and walking plans

24th June 2023

Shropshire Council’s debut Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan has received a frosty reception from the Shrewsbury Green Party.

Shropshire Council’s much-anticipated debut Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) has received a frosty reception from the Shrewsbury Green Party, who say it is low on ambition and lacking in vision.

The council is coming to the end of a six-week public consultation on draft plans for potential improvements to walking and cycling in the county with a focus on seven key market towns – Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Market Drayton, Church Stretton, Ludlow, and Whitchurch.

However, Shrewsbury’s Green Party says the plans are not fit for purpose and the council is still not doing the things they are already committed to in order to enable more walking and cycling. The Greens are calling for a radical rethink of how the council approaches the issue.

Shrewsbury Green Party coordinator Emma Bullard says: ‘Getting more journeys made on foot or by bike should be a high priority. It’s one of the easiest and quickest ways to deliver a whole range of important benefits – healthier lifestyles, cleaner air, lower carbon emissions, and more. Plus it saves people money if they use their car less. The draft LCWIP acknowledges all of this. The problem is that there isn’t enough ambition, detail, or vision in the plans.’

The LCWIP includes a long list of schemes that could make useful improvements to walking and cycling in the towns affected. However, not a single scheme has been guaranteed funding nor are there details of how and when they might be built.

Says Emma Bullard: ‘Without funding, proper details, or even a timeframe to completion, these schemes are nothing more than hot air. We understand the reason for producing an LCWIP is to be able to bid for future government funding. But in the current economic crisis, fuelled by the disastrous Liz Truss budget, that funding is now very uncertain. The plans don’t go far enough to deal with the issues faced by growing towns like Shrewsbury where new housing developments are being built that are completely car-centric and leave residents totally reliant on four wheels.’

Shrewsbury’s Green Party has been pushing Shropshire Council to do more to get people walking and cycling. They are urging the council to implement new policies that aren’t reliant on a costly new plan.

  1. The town’s Greens have identified four key ‘Walking & Cycling Friendly’ policy changes that could be made immediately:
    Bring in a 20mph speed limit in residential areas
  2. Ensure all new developments are built with safe walking and cycling routes that connect to schools, shops and workplaces ready for when residents move in
  3. Set pedestrian crossing lights to change more quickly, to make walking journeys more convenient
  4. Ban pavement parking and get rid of other obstacles on pavements

Emma Bullard says: ‘Shropshire Council could implement these four changes immediately without waiting for the LCWIP to be finalised and approved. These changes would radically change the experience for pedestrians and cyclists across the county overnight.

We know that the main thing putting people off cycling is that they don’t feel safe in traffic, so tackling this with 20mph speed limits in all residential areas should be a priority. It isn’t enough to bring in 20mph on random sections of road outside schools. A child cycling to school needs to be safe on the whole journey, not just at the school gate.

Ensuring new developments are built with walking and cycling routes is essential if our growing towns and villages are going to be fit for the future. Shropshire Council previously agreed to use Transport for New Homes guidance to ensure new developments had safe walking and cycling routes, but it has so-far failed to do this.

All seven towns covered by the LCWIP have serious problems for people walking, pushing buggies or using wheelchairs. This makes social exclusion worse. Two simple fixes – changing the settings on pedestrian crossings, and ensuring pavements are free of parked cars and obstacles – would make things safer and easier.

Taken together, these four key ‘Walking & Cycling Friendly’ policy changes would be transformative if implemented across the county. We just need a council administration that is willing to commit to active travel – and all the quality of life, environmental, and economic benefits it brings – rather than being fixated on cars.’

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Published and promoted by Chris Davenport for the Shropshire Green Parties, 124A Battlefield Road, Shrewsbury, SY1 4AQ

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