CYCLE SUPERHIGHWAY: Scaled-down pilot ‘not possible’
A SCALED down trial of a controversial cycling superhighway is not possible, according to a regeneration chief – but leaders have vowed to keep a close eye on its impacts.
Plans for a half mile cycle route along Linthorpe Road, in Middlesbrough, have provoked anger from businesses along the stretch – with protest signs erected in windows.
A petition against the move has gathered 722 signatures so far over fears it will put more pressure on stores already struggling to survive through the pandemic.
A consultation on the plans funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) is processing more than 400 responses at the moment.
But there were fresh questions about the vision at Wednesday night’s Middlesbrough Council meeting (March 24).
Segregated cycleways and the removal of parking spaces are part of the cycleway vision.
Original blueprints also aimed to reduce bus stops on the stretch from three to one – with motorists urged to use parking on Amber Street and surrounding roads.
Cllr Alma Hellaoui, Labour member for Newport, claimed 71% of those responding to the consultation on the plans were against it.
She added: “We’re wondering why this plan is going ahead when we’ve got such a large proportion of people against it.
“It’s not because all of us don’t want a healthy environment – we want a green agenda, walking routes and cycle routes.
“But the issue with this particular plan is its location on Linthorpe Road and that the cycle path would go along Linthorpe Road.”
Cllr Hellaoui said there were still “serious concerns” about the impact the path would have on firms.
She asked whether a pilot scheme could be trialled on the stretch.
And if it couldn’t, she asked whether the council would carefully monitor the scheme alongside firms and residents.
Cllr Ashley Waters, executive member for regeneration, didn’t think a trial was possible but agreed the vision had to be monitored properly.
He added: “We have to make sure it works for the businesses, it works for the residents and it works for the people of Middlesbrough and we see a healthier town on the back of this.
“I’m grateful to the combined authority for providing the money to do this and make Middlesbrough a healthier town.
“Decisions aren’t always going to be popular – but I think this is a really important one and it’s important we get it right.”
In February, seven Labour councillors called for a “u-turn” on the cycling superhighway – raising doubts about the consultation and lost parking spaces.
Cllr Waters responded saying he would “stand firm” on the plans as the lanes were needed for the health of the town.
The aim of the half mile cycle highway from Ayresome Street to Borough Road is to make the route safer for cyclists and cut congestion.
Money for the scheme will come from the TVCA – with cost estimates of between £941,000 and £1.5m.
Council reports show the authority is only getting a third of the “maximum income” it could receive from spaces with charges on Linthorpe Road.
Cllr Waters has been outspoken in criticising business owners for “abusing” parking spaces outside their stores.
But he told this week’s meeting how the council had responded to firm’s concerns to alter some of the plans.
Cllr Waters said: “We’ve seen the consultation and we’ve listened.
“We believe we can work with these businesses to ensure their concerns are addressed.
“Before, we were looking at losing about 50 car parking spaces – it’s now down to about 25.
“There have also been issues with businesses explaining about loading and unloading.
“And our officers are doing fantastic work working with these businesses to facilitate alternative routes.”
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV