PLANS to prioritise walking and cycling routes in Kendal are gathering pace after Cumbria County Council submitted its latest Kendal Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) to Kendal Town Council for consideration.

The council's Environment and Highways Committee, chaired by Councillor Eamonn Hennessy, has issued its initial response to the plan:

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"The Environment and Highways Committee welcomes the opportunity to pass comment upon this document and we wholly endorse and support the stated ambition to make walking and cycling the natural choice for shorter journeys or as part of a longer journey, including the aim to double cycling activity by 2025. 

"The benefits of achieving this outcome would be substantial, supporting public health and wellbeing, more vibrant towns and public spaces, and low carbon travel patterns becoming commonplace.

"We also welcome the acknowledgment that an increase in active travel has far-reaching benefits relating to air quality, physical and mental health, travel times, and economic equalities.  

"We would like to make the following observations while recognising that the LCWIP is a live and evolving document:

"A key consideration must surely be the prioritisation of safe routes to school. 

"The traditional school run is of course a time of day when traffic congestion can be at its worst and the provision of safe alternatives would help to alleviate this. 

"A major proposed route through Kendal runs north to south and does not, therefore, offer alternative methods of travelling to school for the vast majority of residents. 

"Indeed, densely populated areas of Kendal such as Sandylands and Kirkbarrow do not feature on the network at all. 

"The busiest route to school in Kendal is from Hallgarth to Queen Katherine School, an east-west route. We would suggest that provision for this needs to be a priority.

The Westmorland Gazette: ROUTES: People are encouraged to use cars lessROUTES: People are encouraged to use cars less

"We have concerns that what we would view as a priority route through the centre of Kendal, linking to Kendal College is currently deprioritised pending the provision of a Kendal Northern Access Route. 

"This could be many years off and we need to be acting much faster to encourage and facilitate active travel considering the issues we face with climate emergency and air quality. 

"We are very keen to see action as soon as possible and do not necessarily agree that action should be dependent on the provision of the KNAR.

"Advice from Cycling UK's campaign department is that having some aspects of the LCWIP that can be delivered very quickly from within the local council's existing budget can be beneficial when applying for further funding. 

"It shows political willingness to achieve a modal shift when it comes to active travel.

"We believe that potential 'quick wins' should be prioritised and that the north-south route through Kendal could be as such. 

"Finally, Kendal Town Council is reviewing the traffic system within our town alongside Kendal Futures.

"In addition, County Council will be aware that we are in discussions with regards to the implementation of 20mph speed limits across our town. 

"The measures we are investigating may well influence future decisions around the LCWIP and we request that we are kept fully informed and involved at every stage of any future process." 

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