Connect2 - Who benefits?
By Rosee Woodland | Monday, November 5, 2007 12.00am
Who will benefit from the Connect2 scheme? Here are five typical case studies
Anna Cosgrove – Northwich, Riversdale Swingbridge
Twelve-year- old Anna is a year eight pupil at St Nicholas High School in Northwich. She used to cycle over the Northwich Swing Bridge to get to school until it was closed in 2004 for safety reasons. Now she is really hoping that Connect2 will be successful in reopening the route.
"If the bridge was reopened through Connect2, I would be able to walk and cycle to school again, which is much healthier than going in the car, as we are constantly being told on the news," she said.
"I also used to feel more awake when I got to school – it’s better for your concentration to get some exercise in the morning.
"Going by bus or car can put you in a bad mood as well as increasing the traffic - in the summer it’s all hot and cramped in the car. Re-opening the bridge would also help the area by reducing the number of cars on the road and reducing pollution.
"The bridge also allowed me to be more independent – by getting to school without relying on my mum. As a family we had more space to walk our dog, Poppy. People who go to John Dean’s College and Hartford Campus would also benefit as well as people going to the rowing club.
"Walking and cycling is important because you can keep fit, see the seasons change, experience the weather and it is fun! Please open our bridge!"
Cerys Atkins and Annette Baker, Monmouth
Town councillor Cerys Atkins works a private tutor and has lived in Monmouth for seven years. She thinks the whole town would benefit from the network of cycle paths that Connect2 would create in Monmouth.
She said, "At the moment, because the town is divided by two large rivers and a trunk road you have to go all around the houses to travel even a short distance by car but people are wedded to them - they cram into the centre and demand more parking space.
"A small town like Monmouth can’t absorb an ever increasing numbers of cars, but often routes for cyclists and walkers are not usable after heavy rain, nor safe, or even in existence in some places where they would provide useful shortcuts into the town centre.
"If we could convince people it’s actually easy to get around by bike or on foot this would be a very important development for the whole area. Sustainable transport makes towns and cities pleasanter healthier places to live in and is obviously an important way to help fight climate change."
Local businesswoman and cyclist Annette Baker (pictured) agreed:
"Connect2 would bring Monmouth into the 21st century. It would mean that you can cycle and walk around Monmouth, out by the river, walk to school, cycle to work, go to the shops with a pushchair across the footbridge. It would just completely open up the town. It’s impossible now: there are so many cars that people don’t want to cycle or walk, that’s why we want the cycle and footbridge so people can get on their bikes and walk offroad.
"From the business point of view Connect2 would be great. It would bring opportunities and investment into Monmouth – it’s a town full of opportunities and Connect2 would help that potential to be fulfilled."
David Donnan and Alaisdair Dutton, Perth
In Perth, marine biologist David Donnan is backing the planned Connect2 bridge over the River Tay and linking routes for walkers and cyclists. He believes it will make a huge difference to local people and visitors to the area and encourage sustainable transport.
He told BikeRadar, "I am a marine biologist, working for Scottish Natural Heritage, a government agency that promotes access and responsible enjoyment of the natural heritage.
"I generally commute to work by mixture of bike or car depending on work commitments and weather. I am away from the office a lot but try to bike at least once a week if I can.
"Sustainable transport saves me money. It improves the environment and reduces our carbon footprint. We need to do more to encourage it. Why can't we have bike carriers on the buses, as I've seen in Canada? What a fantastic idea!
"I really appreciate the existing cycle paths around Perth. However, the Connect2 project would dramatically improve things by allowing cyclists to completely avoid the congested traffic areas like the old Perth Bridge/Bridgend area.
"I think the project would encourage more commuting by bike. There are quite a lot of mostly summer cycle commuters heading in and out of Perth to Scone."
David believes the scheme will also encourage more recreational cycling.
"The project would connect the existing paths on the west of the Tay with the quiet country roads on the east side - offering options for really enjoyable and safe circular routes that all cyclists would enjoy.
"Perth is actually a fantastic town for cycling, mostly flat, with a reasonable existing path network, and amazing mountain biking nearby. The Connect2project would make it much better though."
Forty-eight year old Alasdair Dutton is a GP and has lived in the Perth area for 21 years.
He said, "I love cycling and have always been environmentally aware. As a family we like to cycle and walk. At the moment we can cycle the six miles from Almondbank where we live to the North Inch in Perth but do not tend to cross the Tay, especially with our 11-year-old, as it involves running the gauntlet of the traffic on the Perth bridge.
"Perth has become more pedestrian friendly, with traffic exclusion from the centre, but the crossings of the Tay are all very busy. Cycling across the Perth Bridge is unpleasant and potentially hazardous as it is narrow and very busy. There is a detour to walk across it to get to Scone.
"The Connect2 bridge, without motor traffic, would greatly enhance the area for residents and visitors.
"The residents of the Capability Scotland building on the Scone side of the river would have easy access to Perth. They mostly suffer from Cerebral palsy and use electric wheelchairs which are not ideal on the narrow pavements of the current bridge."
Father Henry Everett – Paddington –Westbourne railway bridge and links
This pubic-safety orientated scheme includes plans to replace the Westbourne Park footbridge, also known as ‘Muggers’ Alley’ thanks to the high number of robberies reported there.
Cyclists and walkers wanting to get from Bayswater to Maida Vale can risk the bridge, or take a considerable detour. The new bridge would be wider and straighter, with ramped accesses, and link into existing networks.
Local resident Father Henry Everett said, "I cycle everywhere visiting parishioners.
"The Connect2 scheme proposes to improve the present, slummy footbridge over the railway which is totally unsuitable for cyclists, as well as being threatening and sinister.
"You end up going around the long way by the dual carriageway at Royal Oak, which is dangerous in the traffic. The bridge would also make it easier for children coming to the local school from Westbourne Grove."
Miceal Ahern, Derry/ Londonderry, greenway and cycle path links
Miceal is the director of a company that advises small and medium-sized businesses on sales and marketing. He has lived in Derry for nearly ten years and likes the community spirit, the range of sporting activities, and the sense of history to be found in and around the walled city.
As an occasional ranger for Sustrans he enjoys cycling with other people and it is the social aspects of the Derry Connect2 project which particularly appeal to him:
"Every river should bring life to a city and the Foyle does," he said.
"The proposed bridge and network of paths would greatly increase social interaction and pride in the area. People walking and cycling between the two areas of the city brings the communities together. The new bridge would also be wheelchair-friendly, easier for families with young children and prams to use, and would encourage tourism. A positive, knock-on effect will be small businesses setting up to meet the needs of increased numbers of visitors – bicycle hire for instance.
"I’m a great believer in public transport. The bridge and paths will also make the railway station much more accessible to residents on the western side of the city – at the moment it is so under-utilised. There are also parks which are not being used as much as they should be because you need a car to get to them!
"I have no doubt that this Connect2 scheme would make a phenomenal difference to Derry-LondonDerry. It would give the city a real lift and, on a higher level, it would reinforce people’s feeling that there is a better way to go forward than the past."
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