'We need more cycle lanes!' Labour calls for changes to encourage people to get on their bikes in Northampton

Cllr Rufia Ashraf wants there to be more cycle lanes in Northampton. Photo: Northampton Labour Party
Cllr Rufia Ashraf wants there to be more cycle lanes in Northampton. Photo: Northampton Labour Party

More cycle lanes are needed in Northampton to get more people using their bikes, according to opposition Labour councillors.

Councillor Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) argues the current lanes are not safe for cyclists but if they go in the road they are at risk of being hit by a vehicle and if they go on the pavement then pedestrians will suffer.

The Labour representative for St James ward at Northampton Borough Council added that if more people chose to cycle then it would reduce air pollution levels in the town.

"We need to re-educate people and raise awareness that drivers and cyclists can share the road," she said.

"This borough needs to work with the county to improve the lives of cyclists by creating more, and safer cycle lanes in the town.

"This will encourage more people to cycle to work and to cycle for pleasure. It will help reduce air pollution and create a safer, cleaner, greener environment for all of us.”

Councillor Ashraf said the few cycle lanes in Northampton are not well maintained or known about, but having more of them would make cyclists feel safer using the roads.

In the UK in 2016, 102 cyclists were killed, 2,297 were seriously injured and 14,978 were slightly injured in accidents, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

“Whether people choose to cycle to work or for pleasure, everyone should feel safe on our roads," she said.

"When I have time, I ride my bike in the park, which is where I feel most safe.

"I am passionate about cycling and encourage everyone to get on their bike. I would also like to see legislation passed that all cyclists must wear helmets for their own safety.

Lee Attwood from Treads Cycle Club Northampton says the issue is far from simple, as more cycle lanes would be better in the short time, but long term it could cause more problems.

"It's an either-or sort of thing as we have lots of cycle networks but they're really poorly maintained so more lanes means more maintenance and with what's going on in Northamptonshire at the moment, there's not the money there to maintain them," he said.

Lee said if the lanes are not maintained then debris gets brushed into them, making them a puncture hazard, so cyclists either use the road and annoy motorists or use the pavement and annoy pedestrians.

The cycling club's website manager said education would help to teach cyclists and motorists about the laws of the road, but on the whole, his experience of Northampton drivers is positive.

"The benefit is clear for people to cycle to work so more cycle lanes would be fantastic but long-term they will need to be maintained as some networks are so bad they're barely rideable," he said.

"It's hard to say what the right decision is."

Northamptonshire County Council, which is responsible for highways, has been contacted for comment.