Zero Carbon Streets: Cycle campaigning in Wisbech

This article was published in 2021, in Magazine 153.

A man standing on a narrow shared-use path in WisbechResidents in Wisbech are hopeful that, over the next few years, they will finally get some significant investment in cycling.

While the town is part of two Sustrans routes (National Cycle Network routes 1 and 63), these seem to be designed more for people passing through. Cycle paths to get around Wisbech, for work or leisure, are pretty non-existent which makes cycling hazardous.

The last significant investment in cycle infrastructure in Wisbech was about 20 years ago when lines of paint were put onto paths to the main factories in town. These alleged cycle paths are barely wide enough to walk side by side let alone walk and cycle together.

One local would-be cyclist said: ‘I’ve put away my bike for anything other than rural recreational rides as cycling in the town is simply unsafe and I’ve had so many serious near misses. And I know many others who have done the same. I can`t quote figures but lots of people in the town both live and work here. Yet they use their car to drive those short distances. A better cycling infrastructure would change that. I am convinced it would be used. People would get fitter, it would be better for mental health, reduce congestion and be better for the environment. The current situation is very, very, sad.’

Currently, all interested bodies are ‘talking’ about investment in the cycling network. Fenland District Council is about to go to final consultation for a Cycling, Walking and Mobility Improvement Strategy. Cambridgeshire County Council is about to announce the second tranche of proposed Active Travel Schemes (which should include Wisbech) while the Combined Authority has been openly supportive of active travel in the area. Local fingers and toes are crossed that all of this will, at last, lead to action. Camcycle will help us publicise the ways you can comment on these proposals.

Neil Halliday