Bid to make Keynsham cycle lane safer withdrawn

A MOTION calling for Keynsham’s “optical illusion” cycle lane to be made safer has been withdrawn.

A cross-party proposal to commit Bath and North East Somerset Council to investigate the costs of fixing the lane had been due to go to vote at a council meeting on September 21.

But the Keynsham councillors behind the plan have withdrawn and postponed it, amid fears it would be “torpedoed” by the council administration.

As of August, 76 people had reported falls in the cycle lane since it was opened in March 2022, although the unreported figure is believed to be even higher.

Local councillors say that the injuries people have suffered include fractures, lost teeth and significant bruising.

Alan Hale, Conservative councillor for Keynsham South, said: “It very soon became clear that there was a real issue with the varying non-standard kerb heights. It was also obvious that there was an optical illusion that disguised the changes in levels.”

The cycle lane was painted red in August in a bid to fix the issue, but falls have continued.

After “fruitless” attempts to get the Liberal Democratic administration to act, Keynsham’s B&NES councillors set aside party lines to band together and force something to be done.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Keynsham East, Hal MacFie, drew up a motion, supported by the other councillors in the town, to commit the council to investigating the costs of fixing the confusing kerbs. But the motion was later withdrawn before the meeting.

A statement from the Keynsham councillors said that an amendment to their motion been tabled by the administration which they believed would “crush” their motion.

Under the council’s constitutional “six-month rule,” this could prevent it being discussed again until at least March 2024.

But a source close to the Liberal Democrat administration said that it was standard practice for the council administration to file an amendment to all motions.

Councillor MacFie said he would work on the motion and bring it back to a future meeting, possibly as soon as November.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat group said: “We understand the Keynsham councillors decided to withdraw their motion whilst we await the Stage 4 safety audit.

“We’re taking reports of all falls seriously. The majority of incidents happened within the first six months of the scheme going in, and the number of incidents is decreasing as people get used to the changes and in light of the amendments we have already made.

“We are listening and the Stage 4 road safety audit we commissioned will guide us. An example of an improvement we’ve already made is to introduce the red cycle lane finish last August.”

A B&NES Council spokesperson told the Voice that it expected to receive the results of the safety audit in “late autumn”.

People who are injured while falling in the High Street can report the incident via the FixMyStreet page of the B&NES Council website.

The Keynsham group of councillors – which also includes Labour’s Dave Biddleston, and Lib Dems Alex Beaumont, Andy Wait and George Leach – have been conducting their own survey of falls, whose locations stretch from the former Buss’s greengrocers to the Coventry Building Society.

Councillor Hale said: “It beggars belief that we as a council and the Lib Dems as an administration have to all intents and purposes sat on our hands, monitoring the continued level of ongoing injuries.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Biddleston say “much great pressure from the community must be brought” to resolve the issue. He is urging residents to sign a petition called ‘Remove Keynsham High Street Cycle Kerb’ which can be found on the website.

As a town councillor, he also wants Keynsham Town Council to play its part in pushing B&NES Council to make the cycle lane safer for pedestrians.

In a Labour statement to a recent town council meeting, Councillor Biddleston said: “I think there is a significant danger here of our constituents losing every confidence in B&NES Council and its ability to protect them from harm.

“As a town council, and a separate body, we must ensure that everything that can be done ‘is done’ to protect our residents from further harm.”

The statement added: “The considered response from B&NES officers and the administration has been that the road has been built to safety standards and according to law, but this seems to be ludicrously at odds with the injuries sustained.”

After discussion, it was agreed that the town council would write to B&NES, once a letter had been drafted and approved.

John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service, with additional reporting by Keynsham Voice