Eastover’s county councillors Leigh Redman and Hilary Bruce were joined by Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Liz Leavy and Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley to open a new cycling and walking route boasting eco-friendly lighting and forming part of the towns extensive and growing network. Children from Eastover Primary School were the first to cycle the new route this week, the next phase in the town’s off-road A38 Active Travel Corridor. The 1km path runs alongside the River Parrett from Bridgwater’s Express Park to the Saltland’s Bridge. Leigh Redman commented “It seems a long time ago (more than 5 years) that we started to discuss this exciting project. To be able to move safely, along the river Parrett bank, from Bridgwater town centre to Express park is a great thing for pedestrians and cyclists alike. I was pleased to be part of the team that officially opened the route. Lit with solar studs, the route is open 24/7, and so it is now possible to travel from Taunton through North Petherton all the way to Express Park with minimal danger. And soon to be completed, the route will go all the way to the new Gravity site and will not just be safe but have great views.”
The new safe route for cyclists and pedestrians, jointly funded by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund and Hinkley Point C, and delivered by contractor Milestone, will eventually stretch from the Gravity site at Puriton to Bridgwater town centre.
In addition it follows the route of The England Coast Path National Trail, a long distance walking route which will eventually be available around the whole of the English coast.
The new pathway will form a significant addition to an extensive existing network in and around the town which is available to view on the Bridgwater Way interactive route map here – Cycle Route Map and Journey Planner (thebridgwaterway.co.uk). Following recent delivery of the toucan crossings of A38 Bristol Road and associated link to Ascot Drive, the path is an essential component of linking the town centre to the area of north east Bridgwater.
Other work is already underway to link Express Park to Dunball, and plans are continuing to be developed on the next stretch of the A38 Active Travel Corridor between Saltlands Bridge and the town centre through Bridgwater Docks and Northgate Yard.
Councillor Mike Rigby, Somerset County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Transport and Digital said: “This is a fine piece of work by our contractor Milestone delivered on time and budget and it’s an excellent addition to Bridgwater’s growing cycling and walking network. We are committed to investing in active travel infrastructure across Somerset to make it easier for people to cycle or walk instead of using the car and we’d urge everyone to take a look at our Local Walking and Cycling Plans for key towns in the county, including Bridgwater. These are evolving blueprints and we want to hear from residents about what cycling and walking provision they want to see.”
Andrew Cockcroft, Senior Community Relations Manager at Hinkley Point C, said: “We’re pleased to fund a scheme which pushes forward the move to net-zero. The new path will connect communities across Bridgwater, in a way that benefits both the environment and people’s health – and is one of many ways we’re ensuring local people benefit from Hinkley Point C.”
Cllr Sarah Dyke, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change said: “Making it a reality for children to safely walk or cycle to school and for people to easily get to work on bicycle or foot is part of our long-term vision in order to cut traffic on our roads and greenhouse emissions and it’s great to see this growing network in Bridgwater.”
Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity, Cllr Adam Dance said: “Cycling and walking are the cornerstones of a healthier lifestyle and the great thing about this development is that people of all ages can incorporate that safely into their daily living, whether on the way to school, work, the shops or just out for pleasure.”
The future has to be sustainable
Bridgwater Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley said “Sustainable transport is at the heart of our plans for Bridgwater’s future. Cycling, walking and public transport are the way to meet the challenges of climate change and to make our town an attractive place to visit and live in. The route of this cycle path follows the riverbank along what was the old world war 2 stop line – hence the number of pill boxes along the way. This year Bridgwater Town Council will be producing the first area map of the town for many years and this will be in collaboration with the Bridgwater Area Cycle Campaign who we are strong supporters of.”
Learn more about Bridgwater’s cycling and walking routes on the Bridgwater Way www.thebridgwaterway.co.uk