The ongoing saga of Keynsham High Street’s cycle lane has taken a new twist.
The six councillors who represent Keynsham on Bath & North East Somerset Council had submitted a motion to last Thursday’s full council meeting, demanding action to tackle the hazards of the cycle lane and warning that any further “cosmetic changes” would not stop falls and injuries. However, they withdrew it before the meeting.
Since last March, when the redesigned High Street opened with a one-way system and contraflow cycle lane, reports began coming in of pedestrians falling. People have fractured bones, head and facial injuries, lost teeth and suffered significant bruising. As of last month, the official casualty count was 76 although the six councillors say there are many more victims who have not reported it.
Thursday’s cross-party motion, which was compiled by Cllr Hal MacFie, called for the cycle lane kerb and islands to go, and for the pavement kerb to be raised. But the ruling Lib Dem administration proposed an amendment, which the six councillors were unhappy with. In a joint statement they said: “We have received a proposed amendment which is not acceptable to us but does contain some specific criticisms that need to be addressed.”
The councillors acknowledged that the council’s latest safety review has not yet been published and they have not been told the proposed actions nor the costs.
They said they had decided to withdraw the motion and collect the evidence required with the intention to bring it forward at the next council meeting in November. “We regret this course of action as the issue remains unresolved, but we are confident that the new motion will have much broader support.”
Of the six councillors, four are Lib Dem – Andy Wait, Alex Beaumont and George Leach, as well as Cllr MacFie; David Biddleston is a Labour member and Cllr Alan Hale is a Conservative, as well as the council’s member advocate for road safety.
In a separate press release, Cllr Hale said that approaches to the administration to date to deal with the cycle lane hazards had proved “fruitless”.
He said that the administration’s amendment to the motion was “obviously aimed at using their majority in the chamber to crush the motion and prevent it being discussed again within six months”.
Cllr Hale continued: “The cost of work to remove the problem comes up but I agree with the view of my group leader, Cllr Tim Warren CBE, that money should be found by stopping other remedial or development work to resolve this very real problem. The administration has found circa £10m to install a ring of steel in the city of Bath to protect it from terrorist activity, albeit that protection is only between 10am and 6pm.
“It concerns me that someone who is frail and elderly is going to fall over the kerbs in our town and die, and despite the protestations of the administration that the cycle lane, etc. is built to regulations, they have been told of the concerns and the casualties on numerous occasions and done nothing.”
There is an online petition at https://chng.it/HfLVnj8g6r
‘Residents must be protected from further harm’
A motion brought by Labour members of Keynsham Town Council to put pressure on B&NES Council to sort out the cycle lane issue once and for all was unanimously passed last week.
In a statement Cllr Dave Biddleston, who is both a town and B&NES ward councillor, highlighted “a significant danger” of constituents losing every confidence in B&NES Council and its ability to protect them from harm. “As a town council, and a separate body, we must ensure that everything that can be done is done to protect our residents from further harm. The ethical consideration of this situation should be clear and paramount and our only consideration.”
He continued: “The considered response from B&NES officers and the administration has been that the road has been built to safety standards and according to law, but this seems ludicrously at odds with the injuries sustained.”
He said B&NES needs to remove the central raised area “before they are further shamed as a council with more bruised and broken residents”.
Cllr Biddleston has told The Week In that it is time to pedestrianise the High Street. He acknowledged it would be inconvenient for some “but will create a more beautiful area that people can be happy to visit and spend money and be safe”.