Walsall cycling group hits out at council leader's 'negativity' on bike lanes

A Walsall cycling group has criticised a council leader over his "negative" remarks over plans for pop-up bicycle lanes.

Bicycle lanes as seen in London
Bicycle lanes as seen in London

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird believes installing the lanes would present an "insurmountable challenge" due to the "dangers" of mixing cars and bicycles.

It comes after the Government announced a £2 billion grant for councils to install emergency cycling lanes across the country.

But Steve Price, director at Walsall Bike Project, said: "We were very disappointed by Councillor Bird's negativity to allowing more cycle provision in Walsall, even though central Government funding is available to make it safe for all road users.

"It is a popular form of transport but kept from enjoying wider take-up by the allowed dominance of cars and lack of proper provision for cycling.

"Anyone travelling along the Broadway [in Walsall] recently, for example, would have seen lots of cyclists on the paths due to being too scared to cycle on the road.

"Most drivers are exceeding the speed limit and some do not observe correct passing.

"A bike lane on the highway, which is plenty wide enough to support it, would be very helpful and encourage safer, off the path cycling, for shoppers and commuters to Walsall town centre."

Proposals for new cycling lanes follows an unprecedented surge in cycling which has been fuelled by the Government's lockdown over coronavirus.

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Councillor Bird said he was concerned about "road safety" after seeing cyclists "taking ownership" of the road and "riding two, three or four abreast".

"It makes it extra dangerous for cars to pass," he added.

As part of the £2bn package, the Government also wants councils to widen pavements and to trial rental e-scooters.

Walsall Bike Project is a community interest company which aims to promote people's understanding of cycling.

It provides bike repair workshops and sources charitable funding to provide bicycles to people in need, including job seekers, low-paid workers and asylum seekers.

For more information, visit Walsall Bike Project CIC on Facebook.

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