Concerns over new Bedfordshire cyclepath funding
Central Bedfordshire Council needs to secure more than £200,000 from developers
A new cyclepath in Bedfordshire could be isolated from a national network for several years because of a lack of funding to extend it across a motorway junction.
The cycle track is part of the project to dual the A421 from Milton Keynes to junction 13 of the M1 motorway.
But it will end abruptly for now and remain that way unless Central Bedfordshire Council can secure more than £200,000 funding from developers, in the meantime.
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Otherwise the earliest date it could be extended is 2024, as the cycle network will be affected by East West Rail construction works, according to the local authority.
Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker said: "The construction company carrying out the A421 upgrade is doing a fantastic job, and work continues through these difficult times.
"At a recent site visit, I admired the new footpath and cycle track, which is separated from the road.
"I wondered how it would allow cyclists to safely cross the M1 junction 13.
"Unfortunately, it appears that CBC forgot this step and so the cyclepath ends near the junction.
"At one end, the cycle route is usefully connected. But at junction 13, it’s not.
"I asked council officers for ideas on how to extend the path across the M1, so cyclists can safely cross to Brogborough.
"A proposal was drawn up," he added. "Sadly, this extension to Brogborough will cost £220,000 and the local authority hasn’t secured funding.
"I will be pressing council officers to include this cost in any developer contribution, if planning permission is granted for new warehousing at junction 13.
"We can’t get people out of vehicles if the council doesn’t make it easy to get from A to B on a bicycle safely."
A CBC spokeswoman said: “As part of the A421 improvement scheme, the opportunity was taken to provide a new cycle route.
"This track was to run alongside the dualled road, as part of the UK's national cycle network.
"Once the cycle path is finished, it connects Milton Keynes and Bedford.
"This part of the route will be completed before the winter and links in with some of the local rights of way.
"Having a joined-up cycle network often takes time, particularly because of funding constraints.
"This means that sometimes we have sections that don’t immediately connect to other routes.
"Over time they will, as we provide more and build a comprehensive cycle grid," she added.
“We have ideas for joining the A421 cycle route to the current network.
"But this route is subject to land negotiations and will be affected by East West rail construction works, so the earliest date the scheme could be started is 2024.
"In the meantime, we will see if the money needed for this project to begin can be secured from section 106 development contributions.
“The A421 project is on schedule to be finished before winter, with more than 80 per cent of the carriageway works completed."