Exeter cyclists slam council for 'letting down' kids by axing LTN trial

-Credit: (Image: Safe Streets Now Exeter)
-Credit: (Image: Safe Streets Now Exeter)

Cyclists in Exeter have fired a broadside at local councillors over plans to end a controversial traffic experiment in the city early.

Restrictions on vehicles have been placed on some roads in the Heavitree and Whipton areas, stopping traffic in a bid to cut pollution and make the roads safer.

But objectors say the scheme merely moves congestion and pollution elsewhere, and roads on the fringes of the area are experiencing jams and delays.

Members of Devon County Council's Exeter highways and traffic orders committee (HATOC) had been due to meet earlier this month to discuss a report which recommends axing the trial early.

But the meeting was called off to give the council more time to assess feedback from its public consultations. Now it will take place next Monday, with the same recommendation to suspend the trial.

Pro-LTN campaigners say children have been enjoying cycling on safer streets in Heavitree
Pro-LTN campaigners say children have been enjoying cycling on safer streets in Heavitree -Credit:Heavitree and Whipton Liveable Neighbourhood Group

More than 80 per cent of more than 24,000 people who responded to the consultations were against the scheme. A report recommends suspending the experimental traffic regulation orders in Ladysmith Road, Park Road, St Marks Avenue, Hamlin Lane, Whipton Lane and Vaughan Road as soon as practicable.

It says a new study highlights the project's 'disproportionate negative impact' on people with protected characteristics such as disability and age.

However, the Exeter Cycling Campaign says the report betrays council promises. The group, which is a registered road safety charity, says: "It should not require bravery to cycle to school."

It says the trial has met its aims of boosting 'active travel' and reducing car journeys, and councillors are now being put in an 'invidious' position by their officers' report.

An open letter to members of the HATOC says: "What a tragedy that you are now being put in the position of receiving recommendations from your officers to reverse the progress we've made in the Active Streets Trial a trial that is delivering on its key aims of enabling active travel and reducing car journeys. You really have been let down here.

"It seems incredible that the best solution the county council team can propose to you is to allow rat-running cars to again drive past Ladysmith schools and to increase car dominance in these areas of Exeter."

The campaign says the analysis of the incomplete trial has been poor. And a spokesman said: "The inconvenience of some drivers should not override the benefits available from building active lives and reducing road danger and carbon pollution."

The letter urges HATOC members to 'take back control' and stand by their commitments. It goes on: "This is hard, but this is what you have come into politics for to lead and make the bold decisions that will improve our city."

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