Letter: Cycle network needs rethinking

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The Independent Online
Sir: The research by the Dean Environmental Alliance showing that the opening of cycle routes in the Forest of Dean has greatly increased motor traffic (8 September) confirms what many people have feared over the work of Sustrans.

The name is short for "Sustainable Transport" and its original aim was to provide cycle routes that would make cycling a safe alternative to the car. But Sustrans has concentrated, not on routes that can fulfil that function, but on routes that are relatively easy to establish, mainly disused railways in attractive countryside. As the Dean research shows, these do not meet a transport need, but act as yet another remote entertainment facility and the destination of yet more car journeys that would otherwise not have been made. The environmental damage likely to be done by Sustrans's lottery-funded National Cycle Network should now be recognised and the project completely re-thought.

What cycling, as sustainable transport, needs is space on the ordinary roads. This cannot be provided by finding odd strips of land that no one else wants any more. It means giving the kind of priority, and spending some of the sort of money, that is now given to road provision for motor traffic.


Walkley, Sheffield