By Cynthia Floud - 29th October 2016 3:30pm
There have been some strongly contrasting views expressed in the 'Share & Chat' section of this website regarding the proposal to create a safe cycle route from Haddenham to Aylesbury, exiting the village via Green Lane. Below, Cynthia Floud, Chair of the Haddenham Safe Walking & Cycling Group, responds to the comments raised.
Thank you for the discussion on the proposed Cycleway from Haddenham to Aylesbury, Stage One. I would like to help the interchange of views along by clarifying what the proposal entails and what it does not.
1. A 'green lane' is not a bridleway: in law, it is a 'Byway open to all Traffic". In fact, walkers along this lane will know that the first part of this wide lane has hard core and concrete across the whole width of the lane and is in regular use by vehicles which are stored in a large shed at the first gateway. Furthermore a combine harvester, so wide it has knocked down its gatepost, travels to the next gateway.
2. Beyond that gateway the lane becomes filled with vegetation, but we will not have to cut it back to the boundaries of the lane. The Cycleway will be only 2.5 metres wide, which will leave plenty of room either side for the trees and hedge plants, which currently provide the habitat for wildlife and grow in, or into, the green lane. Cyclists, buggies and wheelchairs are not likely to pose a serious risk to the birds, insects and mammals which live there.
3. I agree that crossing the A418 will always be a problem, although the sight lines are good at that point. This is why we have asked for a refuge in the middle of the road and a dedicated path as far as the beginning of the existing path to Stone alongside the road, which starts at the Cuddington turn at Haddenham Low.
4. If we were to ask Transport for Bucks for a Cycleway alongside the A418 from Haddenham's turn at Kings Cross, then we would have to cycle or walk up the continuation of Churchway to get to it. This is not a safe or pleasant experience, as cars come too close to cyclists, carelessly cut in in front of them or pass them at such speed to cause fear and danger. Moreover it would cost far more than £150,000 to build a Cycleway alongside the A418.
5. I am sure we can all think of better ways of spending £150,000, but that is not how local government finance works. Most money comes from developers building new homes, as our Council tax is not high enough to provide anything much more than the Council's statutory duties. This project happens to fit the criteria for this particular fund at this point in time. That is why it has been put forward now.
6. The dangers of creeping suburbia are indeed at the front of our minds in Haddenham. However the arrival of this Cycleway would have the advantage of protecting the green lane from being turned into a road, which legally could easily happen. After all, once public and private money has been spent on a narrow track down the middle of the lane, the conversion into a road would waste that money. No Councillors wish to be accused of 'wasting resources'.
7. The best argument in favour of the project is, however, the fact that it would enable those who cannot currently use the green lane to pick the blackberries, watch and listen to the birds and get out and enjoy nature. Not all of us in Haddenham can just walk out in the countryside; families with buggies, anyone who is a little unsure on their feet or those in wheelchairs, as well as the cyclists and scooterists from 3years to 90+, don't they deserve this path? On the village
cycleways there is no conflict between cyclists, wheelchairs and pedestrians so I do not think we need to assume there would be here.
8. I should also say that I have received many emails in support of the project. Thank you to all those who have sent them to me at cynthia.Floud@btinternet.com
Chair, Haddenham Safe Walking & Cycling Group