Balkerne Hill Bridge Bonkers Cycle Path Plan

Colchester Borough Council wants to demolish the Balkerne Hill bridge and replace it with another bridge 1.2m wider so that cyclists can travel 40 feet rather than walk their bikes across. This at a time when Essex County Council want to shut children’s centers due to a “lack of funding”.

Absolute madness.

The Council seems obsessed with cycle paths, which some cyclists will admit are ill-conceived and don’t always work i.e. pedestrians may not pay attention to the lanes blocking approaching cyclists. In balance, cyclists can sometimes approach pedestrians at speed and with no warning which increases the risk of an accident.

Former Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has objected to the plan to change Balkerne Hill Bridge, saying he was “shocked”. Local residents David and Janet Hewer said that the decision appeared to be “a total waste of money at a time when “the council is closing children’s centres and daycare for the elderly”. Another local resident, Danih James, slammed Colchester Borough Council saying “local residents are always the last to know about events that will affect them”.


The Balkerne Hill Bridge plans fell Under the radar

Many Colcestrians have accused the Council of trying to get the plans pushed through with no consultation. Sir Bob Russell told the Evening Gazette: “I only found out by chance when I saw the two notices and decided to find out what they were about. What I read shocked me.”

“Why go to the expense of removing a bridge and replacing it with a slightly wider bridge which will result in pedestrians and cyclists having to share the space?”, said Mr Russell


Safety Concerns

The proposed new Balkerne Hill Bridge would appear to have railings which could be too low in the event of a cyclist being thrown from their bike.

In addition, cycle paths are often misunderstood with cyclists thinking that they have right of way over pedestrians. In fact, this isn’t the case. Cyclists are allowed permissive use of the paths but right-of-way remains with pedestrians (and those of horseback!); regardless of which area of the path they are walking in or what the markings are.


The cheaper alternative

There seems to me to be a much cheaper alternative to this ‘problem’. Pass a bylaw which makes cyclists dismount to use Balkerne Hill Bridge. Cyclists can then walk across the bridge, get back on their bikes and cycle off into the sunset. This would certainly seem a much more logical (and cheaper ) alternative; especially at a time when we are all being told the Council needs to save money due to continued Conservative austerity cuts.

While I’m on the subject of local conservatives, I have asked Will Quince MP for his thoughts but received no response as of yet. Seems he’s less inclined to answer questions on such matters now he’s got a seat in the House of Commons.

Comment on the Application to demolish and rebuild Balkerne Hill Bridge

You can view the full application and make your comments about it here (comments are now closed). You can also read my objection email.

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