Council agrees to sign Bridgwater cycling charter

Written by on August 3, 2021

EFFORTS to secure better cycling provision in Bridgwater have received a boost from the district council.

Sedgemoor District Council’s executive committee voted on Wednesday morning (July 28) to sign the Bridgwater Cycling Charter, which commits it to promoting cycling across the town and working with its partners to improve and expand the network.

The charter was created by the Bridgwater Area Cycling Campaign (BACC) and is intended to bring residents, businesses and public bodies together to encourage more sustainable forms of transport.

The council will now work with Somerset County Council to improve the existing Bridgwater Way network and invest in new active travel routes across the local area.

The charter calls for Bridgwater to become “a vibrant, sustainable and healthy place in which to live, work, do business, study and thrive” by enabling and encouraging the following:

  • Children and students cycling safety to and from school and college
  • Working age people being able to cycle safety to and from work
  • Residents using bikes to shop in the town centre or visit Bridgwater’s leisure and hospitality venues
  • Cyclists of all ages and abilities feeling confident on the roa
  • Roads and public spaces prioritising people over vehicles, making cycling “the safe, natural choice for a large proportion of everyday journeys”.

Bridgwater Mercury: Section Of The Bridgwater Way Cycling Map. CREDIT: Somerset County Council. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

BACC believes these changes will deliver the following tangible benefits:

  • Reducing congestion, improving air quality and helping to manage population growth while achieving carbon neutrality
  • Allowing Bridgwater’s “rich cultural heritage” to be enjoyed in a more appealing environment
  • Encouraging people to be more active and improve their lifestyle, thereby easing the burden on local health and care services
  • Boosting the health and productivity of the workforce, encouraging economic growth

Andrew Reading, the council’s principal planning officer for policy, inward investment and growth, stated in his written report: “Improvements to local cycling links within the town is a key component of our town investment plan for the Bridgwater Town Deal.

“The cycling charter is therefore considered to align with our priorities in relation to climate change, sustainable travel, health and well-being, and town centre regeneration.”

The council has received a total of £22.6M from the government’s Towns Fund for a series of projects, ranging from the Bridgwater tidal barrier to enhancing the Northgate docks and protecting the town’s historic carnival.

Officers are working with EDF Energy on proposals to upgrade some of the existing Bridgwater Way routes, using match funding from the Hinkley Point C construction.

The district and county councils are also currently working on a local walking and cycling infrastructure plan (LCWIP) for Bridgwater, which will lay out where new cycle routes could be provided.

BACC said the charter does not commit the council to supporting any specific routes or improvements, and is designed to compliment the LWCIP work which will be continuing over the summer.

A spokesman said: “The charter isn’t anti-anything – the charter is pro-cycling. It calls for a change in spending priorities so that more money is used to support and encourage people to ride bikes.

“Organisations and individuals who sign the charter will represent a broad range of opinions. The charter aims to articulate the middle ground, a vision for cycling which the majority of people can get behind.”

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