Mayor announces town centre boost for businesses, cyclists and pedestrians

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Mayor Dave Hodgson has announced a boost for businesses in the town centre which will see changes to encourage pedestrians and cyclists.

Traffic on the High Street will be reduced to one lane with average speed cameras to reinforce the 20mph speed limit.

The scheme will help pedestrians to visit High Street shops whilst socially distancing, particularly around people who may be queueing for shops.

This work was already planned via the Transporting Bedford project this summer and while permanent works have had to be put on hold due to the outbreak, these changes will deliver wider pavements and a more pleasant shopping experience, supporting our town centre at this difficult time.

Space will be kept available for deliveries to be made to shops.

The announcement brings forward the longer term plans for the High Street by installing semi-permanent bollards to demarcate the walking areas.

The Council has been awarded £121,000 by from the Government emergency active travel fund to help with the cost of the works.

The High Street works will form part of a wider provision for pedestrians and cyclists which will also see the addition of new cycle lanes and markings on four roads: River Street, Greyfriars, Bromham Road and the Embankment.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “We have been working to find ways to make it easier for people to visit our town centre businesses and to be able to walk and cycle to where they need to go.

“These improvements will help people to feel safe and welcome when they visit our town centre for their essentials and the schemes for cyclists will hopefully give more people the confidence to try commuting by bike.”

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Town Centres said: “We are working to support town centre businesses, to remind people to stay safe and to ensure that people feel safe when visiting essential stores in line with Government guidelines and abiding by social distancing not just for their own safety but for the safety of others.

“Creating this additional space for pedestrians by widening the pavements on the High Street will help people feel safer visiting essential shops in the town and make it easier for businesses to keep operating at what is a very difficult time.”

The High Street works are expected to start during week commencing Monday, June 22, with the works on the new cycle lanes expected to take place later in the summer.