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Mayor Martin Biermann gives his view on the Top of Town cycling debate
5:10pm Monday 1st October 2012 in Local
The Gazette can claim a proud history of campaigns and engaging with local issues. However, I find the recent targeting of cyclists at the Top of The Town somewhat mystifying, writes Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Martin Biermann.
I would be the first to condemn irresponsible cycling, especially in the midst of pedestrians, but also among other cyclists or motor vehicles. Equally, I strongly condemn cyclists in dark clothing and without lights at night time.
However, one must really ask whether it is the cyclists or the local councils who are at fault when it comes to the issue of cycling in the Old Town area.
Let me give some reasons why I would disagree with the emphasis of your report:
- There are no decent/safe crosstown cycle routes, especially if travelling west-east.
- Signage indicating locations where cycling is not allowed is far from prominent and in some cases missing altogether.
- There is a good case to be made for mixed use at the Top of The Town, not least because the areas concerned are former vehicular highways and are indeed still used by motor vehicles at certain times.
- Such mixed use is very common throughout mainland Europe and makes cycling more attractive, which is something which all tiers of government claim to be promoting.
- It is not unheard of for police officers to be seen cycling in the topic areas.
Whilst there are a few examples elsewhere of improvements for cyclists (such as along Popley Way), even such schemes have notable flaws. And the complete blocking of Sherborne Road is little short of an outrage.
But let me quote a particular example where the borough has totally failed cyclists.
I sat as a member of a so-called advisory panel for the then portfolio holder considering the refurbishment of The Malls.
Throughout the process (the minutes of meetings would confirm this), I was assured that there would be improvements for cyclists as part of the scheme.
Despite these assertions, not a single detail of the implemented scheme has made cycling more user-friendly. One could even argue that the contrary is the case.
Ironically, it is South West Trains which has made the biggest strides in being helpful to cycle users in our borough.
I submit that The Gazette’s energies would be much better spent on tackling the many motorists parking in an anti-social manner, causing real difficulties, in particular, for disabled persons. Please, no more photographs of hapless cyclists on what are really roads.