There exists an opportunity within Cumbria to create cycle and walking routes without significant infrastructure costs. It involves readjusting the current highway network using traffic regulations. Through bringing in 20mph limits combined with vehicle access only designations a network of walking and cycling priority routes could be established.
Cumbria is endowed with an extensive roads system. Many of those roads are impractical for the volume and size of modern day traffic. Often communities are served by a multiplicity of roads.
A local example in West Cumbria is the route between Cockermouth and Dubwath/Isel Bridge which could be a major recreational route for Cockermouth residents. This 3 mile journey can be travelled on one of four roads running parallel. The A66 and three B roads. Two of these B roads have very little habitation en route. One, possibly two, could be selected as a Slow Road.
There already exists a working example of the principles of a Slow Road in South Lakes.
Under Loughrigg, near Ambleside, is one of the few roads in Cumbria where there is an access-only restriction for vehicles and a 20mph speed limit. It is an extremely popular, well used route for people on foot and cycles. Many choose to use this route to access the Rydal and Grasmere area from Ambleside.
Other roads in the County achieve a Slow Road effect through being gated.
Essentially any feature which makes a road unattractive to motor vehicles such as barriers or speed restrictions creates a route suitable for cyclists and walkers which then deters vehicle use.
An additional advantage for County highway expenditure is that maintenance costs for low impact use will be less than those carrying motor vehicle traffic.
Creating vehicle-free cycle and walking tracks has huge potential to improve health and generate ‘green tourism’. It creates opportunities for all including those with disabilities who will be able to enjoy the environment using wheelchairs, adapted bikes or electric buggies in safety.
Slow Roads would attract leisure cycling and provide excellent introductory routes for those unfamiliar with cycling. Once confidence has been established many might then be prepared to adjust their travel modes and consider cycling as an option whilst travelling to work/shop etc.
There are a multitude of minor roads and other opportunities which could be explored within the County. Local people, Parish and Town Councils could be actively encouraged to identify potential routes in their area.
Support for this proposal is steadily growing at: www.facebook.com/Slow-Roads-Cumbria-107913970910451