Healthier, greener travel is on the cards, with vast improvements to the Borough’s cycling network and initiatives to encourage walking and cycling for residents and visitors to be discussed by cabinet (Cabinet item 13, 13 January 2022).
Four schemes are proposed and would be funded through the £741,600 Department for Transport tranche 2 ‘Active Travel Fund’, building on the impressive work carried out with the tranche 1 funding that saw a number of School Streets created.
Under the plans, Prittlebrook Greenway would see new, energy-efficient LED lights installed along the entire length of the well-used route, providing increased safety and visibility, increasing the hours that the route can be safely used and reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour in the area.
It is also proposed that the Borough’s cycle network is reviewed, pinpointing any barriers to ‘active travel’ and with the aim of increasing healthier travel with residents. This will include a comprehensive review of how best to utilise the A13 (London Road) for walking and cycling, given the fact it is a main route through the Borough. This review would identify any missing links in the cycle network and lead to an investment and action plan being drawn up to deal with these.
There are also plans to install electric bike charging stations at key sites, additional secure bike storage units and repair stations across the Borough, with ‘green’ roofs to help boost air quality and increase naturalisation in the Borough.
The popular School Streets campaign would also be extended to a further six schools. Four schools formed part of the first phase of the project, and following the positive feedback from schools, pupils, staff, parents and local residents, the council will be seeking to create new School Streets at six more schools to improve road safety in and around schools, and also improve air quality.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, asset management and inward investment, said: “We want to make active travel easier and the norm for our residents and visitors to help improve air quality and create a greener future, but also to help keep our residents physically well. For us to help make active travel more accessible, we must continue to invest in projects and ideas that can help make Southend an active City.
“Each of the schemes highlighted within the report will help increase participation in active travel, whether that be improving cycling lanes, providing additional cycle storage, or creating further School Streets. I look forward to discussing these proposals in full with cabinet colleagues.”