Tackling pinch points on the A38 near Axbridge and Winscombe 'lacks ambition for cycling'
By Tim Lethaby
16th Nov 2021 | Local News
Upgrades to tackle pinch points on the A38 through North Somerset should not just be about letting cars travel faster, Greens have said.
Bridget Petty, who champions the climate emergency in the district, said major road projects "fill me with dread" and called for improvements for walkers, cyclists and bus passengers.
Her colleague Karin Haverson appealed for a continuous cycle route to link disconnected villages but was told that would swallow most of the £25million budget and would not win government support.
Speaking at North Somerset's full council meeting on November 9, executive member for capital delivery Steve Bridger said: "There are some real problems, issues and pinch points along the A38.
"Some members have some real and valid concerns about this project. Local members will be able to influence the scope of the tender so we can make the most of this opportunity.
"Our contribution of £2.3million will unlock £20million of investment on a really important corridor through North Somerset."
Somerset County Council is contributing £1.3million for work on its section of the road.
Cllr Bridger said the improvements will improve journey reliability and provide extra capacity for all road users.
Calling for cycling to be prioritised, Cllr Haverson said: "Sharing a road with fast heavy traffic is the biggest disincentive to cycling on roads such as the A38.
"This project has some elements going in the right direction, such as the hundred yards or so in Sidcot or a section in Langford, but in my humble opinion this is not nearly ambitious enough.
"Small improvements such as these will not get people out of their cars."
She said people in villages close to the A38 in Wrington, Congresbury, Shipham and Sidcot want to cycle to work, improve their health and protect the environment but there is "not a single safe route".
"I'm hoping that this scheme will give us a chance to create a decent continuous cycle route between the villages or at the very least deal with some of the most dangerous uphill sections."
Cllr Bridger said a continuous cycleway and footpath along the A38 is expected to cost nearly £19million and doubted that would win government support in this bid.
Cllr Petty, the executive member for the climate emergency, said: "For me it's about the improvements we can make for the communities who live there. It's about changing behaviours and supporting local businesses.
"We need to check that the outcomes are really something that we can be proud of in improving our bus opportunities, improving walking for our villagers, improving our cycle offer and not just making cars travel faster."
Cllr Bridger said it is a challenge to upgrade a road for all users while pushing towards the council's target of being net zero by 2030.
But he added: "The A38 is there, people use cars, the airport is there, we have to be mindful of those things too."
The council voted to approve a commissioning plan for the project.
Once approved, construction is expected to begin in November 2023.