Bedford Square Gateway Project
This scheme, which covers Bedford Square, Wards End and Devonshire Square, will create a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly destination for shoppers, with the ambition of increasing footfall and boosting trade in the area.
Footpaths are to be widened and re-paved to improve access, with character street lighting and furniture making it more attractive. It will open up a large space in Devonshire Square where events can be hosted. Parking spaces will reduce from 65 to 55 to accommodate this.
New pedestrian crossings will be added to improve safety, and overall the amount of paved area for pedestrians will increase by nearly a third.
There is to be a large cycle parking bay provided in Bedford Square (next to Perrett & Co) and also cycle stands at the top end of Devonshire Square (opposite Mills Yard).
Work is planned for early 2021 with completion by October 2021. Estimated cost c.£1.9M.
Blessing for Cycling
The current lockdown has been both a curse and a blessing for cycling. Whilst group cycling is not on, one of the few benefits of the Covid-19 lockdown had been the much quieter roads experienced when taking a walk or cycle ride for daily exercise. In particular, it has been great to see many families taking advantage of these conditions to go for a family cycle ride.
It is to be hoped that at the end of this process many people will have realised that the car is not necessary for many journeys, and that active travel (walking and cycling) is a much better alternative for both our physical and mental health. In addition, it provides obvious environmental benefits such as cleaner air and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, to say nothing of the cost savings.
If this trend is to continue, it will be essential to continue campaigning for both better infrastructure and the strict enforcement of speed limits on roads used by walkers and cyclists.
The Government has come round to the view that it is essential to promote active travel, if the transport system is not to become completely congested as lockdown restrictions are lifted, and have provided local authorities with powers and funds to re-allocate roadspace for active travel.To encourage Leicestershire County Council to make the most of this, the following open letter has been sent to Director of Environment and Transport :-
You will no doubt be aware of the new statutory guidance, published on May 9, enabling councils to reallocate roadspace to promote active travel (walking and pedal or electric assist cycling) while enabling social distancing to be maintained.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said: “The government ... expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.”The guidelines he has issued state that “Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits. The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. “
We believe that this provides you with an opportunity to test radical changes in the allocation of space between motor traffic and active travellers on a “try before you buy” basis. Loughborough is ideal as a town for active travel, with most dwellings being within two miles of the centre, and the larger part of the town not having any challenging hills. The long term ambition should be for active travel to account for at least 50% of journeys.
In particular we would urge you to take this opportunity to provide safe active travel routes to all schools and colleges, restricting motor traffic and parking during school arrival and departure times.
A 20mph speed limit should also be introduced on all the roads within Loughborough. This will make active travellers feel safer and maximise the capacity of the system, since slower vehicles require less road space. Such changes would also benefit the users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
For an example of what can be achieved, Groningen in the Netherlands can boast active travel accounting for more than two-thirds of all trips and the cleanest air of any big Dutch city. See https://tinyurl.com/ya2gatch .