Plea for cycle lane on trunk road

Date: Friday 17th May 2019

IMPROVEMENTS to the A66 to the west of Penrith should include a standalone cycle lane for the safety of riders and lorry drivers, say campaigners

Consultation began on Thursday on Highways England’s long-awaited £1 billion plan to dual the entire length of the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith.

Eden councillor Karen Greenwood (Ind, Appleby) is one of several local politicians eager to discuss the infrastructure options with the agency and thinks the works could mean Appleby “becomes a boom town” as a result of investment.

However, she feels there is a balancing act in improving the road network while protecting the Eden Valley. She said: “Firstly we need to talk to them about the cycling situation and secondly about the options for extra access to Cross Croft industrial estate.

“At the moment the access to the industrial site is not ideal and hopefully we can make it easier for vehicles to get in and out.

“At the moment we have visitors who are not aware of the area and who come to admire the scenery and cycle on the A66 as it is the most direct route. On the narrow sections you often see cyclists by huge wagons with more and more frequency and it is concerning. A quarter of all traffic is now HGVs.

“I have always thought a dedicated cycle lane would be preferred but I want to speak to Highways England about it as I don’t believe they think it’s the answer.

“When they bypassed Temple Sowerby the old lanes were freed up for cyclists and maybe they will be thinking that’s the way forward again, but we’ll see what Highways England say.”

The issue of designated cycling lanes to keep the A66 safer is not just an issue to the east of Penrith, and another Eden councillor, Judith Derbyshire (Lib Dem, Dacre), is hoping any efforts to make the road safer will be replicated west of the town, including past Newbiggin and the turnoff for Greystoke.

The issue has been raised at Dacre Parish Council. She said: “I’m in favour of any effort to make the road safer for cyclists. The road is getting busier and busier with more lorries, partially due to the Flusco recycling centre.

“We would like to see a separate designated cycle lane from Penruddock to Penrith that is either slightly removed by a grass verge or separate and more scenic so it is safer and more enjoyable for cyclists. But it is about getting landowners and Highways England on board.”

Mrs Greenwood also hopes the A66 upgrade plans will reduce the number of large vehicles using the Grade II-listed St Lawrence’s Bridge in Appleby which takes traffic into Boroughgate.

She said: “The old bridge has to put up with vehicles that are just massive, far too heavy and breach what it can handle. Hopefully it can free up the number of heavy goods vehicles through town.

“It’s a really large investment in the Eden Valley, bringing jobs and spending power to the area, and will have a real positive effect. Appleby could become a boom town with the knock-on effect. But there is a balancing act as it is up to us to not damage the beautiful area we live in.”

Eight public exhibitions are taking place from this week to the end of June, with the consultation closing on Tuesday, 9th July, before a number of proposals are to be put to the public potentially at the end of the year.

The work will form the largest improvement to the road in Eden since £39 million was spent on the Temple Sowerby bypass in 2006-07.