Keynsham High Street — where an “optical illusion” cycle lane has caused scores of injuries since it was installed last year — could be pedestrianised with bikes banned from the street.
The high street has been dubbed “the most dangerous street in the UK” by local councillors, but not because of the cars. Instead, it is the hidden changes in the kerb heights around the street’s cycle lane which, as of August, has caused at least 76 injuries on the street since it was installed by Bath and North East Somerset Council in March 2022.
After a call for action from local councillors in the town, the council has agreed to paint more markings to warn people of the confusing kerbs, with the work expected to happen in January. Pedestrianising the stretch of road is also being considered, but would first go through a public consultation.
In a statement delivered to a council cabinet meeting on Thursday 9 November, Keynsham East Councillor Hal McFie said: “Keynsham ward councillors met with the leader and some cabinet members last week. It was agreed to apply more visual cues that would warn residents of an impending change in ground level.”
He added: “It was also agreed that the best way out of the current impasse was to pedestrianise the High Street, with the ward councillors pushing to make it a cycle-free area. This could only happen if there was a positive attitude by shopkeepers and residents so the first step was to draw up an outline plan and present it to the Keynsham population in the 2024-25 financial year.”
Mr McFie, a Liberal Democrat councillor, and Keynsham’s other five councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council have formed a cross-party alliance over the issue of the cycle lane. The group had planned to bring a motion before a full meeting of the council in September to force a vote on fixing the pavement levels, but the motion was pulled before the meeting amid fears it would be “torpedoed” by the Liberal Democract administration.
Now the group have held a meeting with members of the council executive. Conservative councillor for Keynsham South, Alan Hale, said: “The administration listened to what we had to say at a meeting and they are going to be doing some work on the high street, mainly with coloured lining. If it helps, well, it’ll be good. If it doesn’t, then clearly I would want to see some physical measures taken.”
If the high street is pedestrianised, the councillors are hoping to see the traffic ban extend to bikes too, which they say could use Aston Way instead of the high street. Keynsham North councillor Alex Beaumont: “I’m all in favour of pedestrianising the high street.”
He said that he had been calling for it for years, but that they needed to look at how the move could accommodate disabled people who usually rely on vehicles to access shops on the street. He added that the street could reopen to traffic after 5pm.
Council cabinet member for transport Manda Rigby said: “We are taking short term measures via putting more painted lines to further mitigate any incorrect perception of pavement/bike lane/roadway levels. Longer term, there will be consultations around what any potential pedestrianisation of the High Street could look like as there has already been a desire for this expressed by ward councillors talking with the local community.”
Reports started coming in of people tripping and falling in the cycle lane shortly after it opened in March 2022. One person who fell described the cycle lane as an “optical illusion” as there were kerbs and painted white lines which looked similar to each other. The cycle lane was painted red in August last year a bid to fix the issue but falls have continued.
LDRS, John Wimperis
To read more about the ongoing debate of the Keynsham cycle lane, see below: