Plans revealed for Chelmsford cycle routes

Details have been released of plans for sustainable cycle routes in towns across Essex.

Earlier this month, Essex County Council (ECC) submitted an ambitious and transformational bid for funding from the Department for Transport to create safe walking and cycling routes in Wickford, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester with the aim to reduce congestion and ensure towns and cities are “safer, greener and healthier”.

In Chelmsford the proposal scheme is based on two routes that form a C shape around the city centre – one running from the east to the city centre and the other from west to east, which meet to create a continuous route.

The east to city centre corridor, approximately one mile long, starts in Chelmer Village and finishes in Victoria Road, with an improved cycle and pedestrian crossing of Chelmer Road (A138) into Sandford Road.

Improvements would be made to enable more walking along part of the route as it enters the housing estate along Springfield Park Road.

From there it continues along Trinity Road and meets Springfield Road, where there is a short section before it turns into Victoria Road.

The area around Springfield Park Road will be designated a Low Traffic Neighbourhood residential area, where 20mph zones can be imposed.

It is proposed that Trinity Road will be designated as a ‘School Street’ zone, covering either side of the route so that only those walking and cycling are able to access the street outside of the school at starting and finishing times. It will also include a 20mph limit.

There would be a permanent segregated cycling corridor along Victoria Road, which meets up with the recently improved cycle and footpath to the city centre next to Riverside, and the first hybrid cycle track in Essex on New Street.

The route will then cross the northern part of the city centre to serve the railway and bus stations and link existing infrastructure to connect to New Writtle Road.

The one-mile long east west route starts  at the cycleway and footpath alongside the Virgin Gym in New Writtle Street, which leads through the park and up into the railway station.

A new toucan crossing will be installed to provide better access to the railway station.

The route will then cross the northern part of the city centre to serve the railway and bus stations and link existing infrastructure to connect to New Writtle Road.

ECC says that the plans will transform Moulsham Street at the northern end to create a “vibrant shopping destination”, linking to the city’s main High Street.

The route would then continue through Moulsham.

It is proposed to make the local urban area of Moulsham a Low Traffic Neighbourhood residential area.

After Moulsham, the route then crosses Van Diemans Road at an upgraded toucan crossing to then enter the Van Diemans estate, where it meets an already established cycle route to Baddow.

The proposals build on recent experience gained from the Phase 1 emergency measures set up in several towns and cities across Essex in response to Covid-19.

ECC says the Phase 2 proposals act as a blueprint for all our future aspirations, “delivering stepchange in active travel”.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council and cabinet member for Infrastructure, said: “Working in partnership with local councils, we evaluated nearly 20 proposals against DfT criteria and the strongest five have been shortlisted and included in one overall bid. We have identified a transformative set of active travel schemes that we want to take forward in partnership.

“We believe these proposals meet the government requirement to put forward schemes that could be transformative for residents. We want the schemes to encourage people to rethink how they make their local journeys in safer, greener, and healthier ways, whether on foot or by bike, instead of opting for the car.

“Travel choice remains critical, but we want to ensure there are real options for the people of Essex, made easier by great infrastructure and cycle and walking-friendly routes, to help not only themselves and their families, but our communities and our environment.”

The schemes submitted are required by DfT to reallocate road space to active travel measures such as cycling and walking to ensure better access to town centres, places of employment and other key areas.

Over the longer-term, the intention is to improve public health and reduce congestion and pollution, by providing more opportunity to use more sustainable forms of travel where possible.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter