A MUCH loved corner of Beverley will be less “wild” if a council is allowed to create a new cycle route across it, objectors claim.
Beverley and District Civic Society and the Open Spaces Society have objected to plans by East Riding Council to widen an existing pathway to create a shared cycle-footpath on Beverley Westwood.
Objectors say the plans for the two-metre-wide path from Walkington alongside the B1230, will encroach onto the Westwood and urbanise the common.
But others back the plan, the final part of a jigsaw providing cycle and pedestrian access into the town from surrounding villages, which the council says will be safer and cut car use.
Prof Barbara English, from the Civic Society, said: “The Civic Society have objected for several reasons, really because it is an encroachment onto the common.
“It is going to be 2m wide and run all the way from the Whiting Works at Walkington all the way down to Cartwright Lane.
“I am sure the council will say it is to make it safer, especially for the grammar school boys will go down that way, but no one has proved that the road has been dangerous.”
More notices going up will also detract she believes from the Westwood’s natural charms.
She added: “The council really want it to be a park, they are always longing to have public loos and picnic area. Just this year they’ve put up 10 new notices.
“We don’t want it turned into a park with lots of notices and footpaths with kerbs all over the place. We want to keep its wildness.”
However East Riding Council says the move will make it safer for schoolchildren as young as 11 who use the road, and other recreational cyclists.
Strategic transport planning manager Ian Burnett said: “I don’t believe widening an existing footpath by half a metre which is adjacent to an existing pathway is urbanising the Westwood.
“Hopefully by providing this safe offroad cycle route we can encourage more people to cycle between Walkington to Beverley and you will reduce the amount of vehicular traffic on the Westwood, creating an even more pleasant environment.”
Mr Burnett said they’d decided to follow the existing route as it would be far more intrusive to build one from scratch: “The council will obviously be sympathetic regarding the signing and keep it to an absolute minimum.
“The bigger picture is that we have actually provided now through council funding offroad cycle routes from all the surrounding villages, from Tickton, Leconfield and Cherry Burton. This is the final link we are trying to provide.
“As a result of investment and together with the provision of a cycling map and secure council parking we have been able to increase cycling by over 45 per cent in the last five years.”
The scheme will be funded by the council from its local transport plan and cost £120,000. As it affects the commons a final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening.
Footpath officer Mike Jackson, for the East Yorkshire and Derwent branch of the Ramblers Association, said they would be discussing the footpath at their meeting on Monday.
He believes cyclists won’t use the path because they’ll have to cross the road in two places.
He said: “My personal view as a walker and cyclist is that they clash if they’re together on one path, because walkers don’t hear the cyclists and cyclists don’t like ringing their bell. I’d much rather lines painted on either side of the road, but the council says their object is to get cyclists off the road.
“I think it is the wrong option because cyclists won’t want to cross the road in two places.”