One of the first Dutch-style roundabouts planned for Braintree to encourage cycling

Essex County Council. Photo: Andra Maciuca

Essex County Council. Photo: Andra Maciuca - Credit: ANDRA MACIUCA

Details have been released of plans for sustainable cycle routes in towns across Essex, including in Braintree where one of the first Dutch-style roundabouts is being planned to encourage more pedal power.

Earlier this month Essex County Council submitted an ambitious and transformational bid for funding from the Department for Transport to create safe walking and cycling routes in Wickford, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester with the aim to reduce congestion and ensure towns and cities are “safer, greener and healthier”.

The Braintree scheme is based on two routes that head towards the town centre, one running from East to West and the other from South to North.

The plans also envisage one of the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabouts, where cyclists and pedestrians have right of way.

The country’s first opened in Cambridge at the beginning of the month at a cost of £2.4million.

It is part of the east-west cycling and walking route – approximately one mile long- that starts at the double mini-roundabout junction of Courtauld Road with Coggeshall Road.

It is this double mini roundabout that is being converted into a Dutch-style roundabout.

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It then goes along Coggeshall Road, Bank Street and Panfield Lane before ending at the roundabout junction of Panfield Lane with Porters Field.

The south-north route, which is approximately a third of a mile, and starts at the railway station on Station Approach, goes along South Street and Fairfield Road, before ending at the junction of Manor Street in the town centre.

This route connects to both the existing provisions and proposed improvements to the south, providing improved and wider connectivity with the centre of the town.

Both routes involve both permanent and temporary segregated cycle routes, pavement widening, junction improvements, crossing improvements, lower traffic volumes through residential areas and 20mph speed limits to make streets safer for walking and cycling.

The Dutch-style roundabout has two rings, the inner one is designed for cars while the outer red lane is for cyclists. At each part of the roundabout, pedestrians and cyclists have priority.

The scheme also proposes a ‘School Streets’ approach so that only those walking and cycling are able to access the street outside of schools at the start and finishing times of the school day.

The improvements in Station Approach are tied to other improvements the council is making for bus operation in the area around the railway station.

The proposals build on recent experience gained from the Phase 1 emergency measures set up in several towns and cities across Essex in response to Covid-19.

ECC says the Phase 2 proposals act as a blueprint for all our future aspirations, “delivering stepchange in active travel”.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “Working in partnership with local councils, we evaluated nearly 20 proposals against DfT criteria and the strongest five have been shortlisted and included in one overall bid. We have identified a transformative set of active travel schemes that we want to take forward in partnership.

“We believe these proposals meet the government requirement to put forward schemes that could be transformative for residents. We want the schemes to encourage people to rethink how they make their local journeys in safer, greener, and healthier ways, whether on foot or by bike, instead of opting for the car.

“Travel choice remains critical, but we want to ensure there are real options for the people of Essex, made easier by great infrastructure and cycle and walking-friendly routes, to help not only themselves and their families, but our communities and our environment.”

The schemes submitted are required by DfT to reallocate road space to active travel measures such as cycling and walking to ensure better access to town centres, places of employment and other key areas.

Over the longer-term, the intention is to improve public health and reduce congestion and pollution, by providing more opportunity to use more sustainable forms of travel where possible.