An independent safety audit into the planned narrowing by Cornwall Council of a busy industrial estate access road in Truro has concluded that the controversial scheme will cause “extreme danger” to cyclists and pedestrians.
The report by leading UK transport consultant TPA, which was commissioned by the Newham Business Improvement District (BID), says the plans are “unsuitable and unsafe”.
Far from creating a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists, it would have the opposite effect, “putting those vulnerable road users at high risk”, the report says.
Newham BID, which promotes Newham as a business location, is now looking at a potential judicial review into the Council’s decision-making process, or even a High Court injunction to stop the project going ahead.
Cornwall Council has said it plans to press ahead with the scheme, which would see a 350m section of Newham Road from the entrance to the Newham Industrial Estate narrowed to 6.5m to allow for the creation of a wider pedestrian and cycleway next to the road.
But transport expert TPA says the plans mean that two heavy good vehicles travelling in opposite directions would barely be able to pass, adding: “it is likely that one vehicle would often be forced to mount the new shared foot/cycle path in order to pass comfortably, causing extreme danger to any cyclist or pedestrian using the path.”
Cornwall Council insists the scheme is safe because it classes the road as ‘minor’, claiming that the majority of businesses at Newham are classed as B1, which is office use. But an audit of Newham’s 180 businesses by the BID shows that industrial and distribution businesses outnumber office users three to one by rateable value.
Many of them run fleets of large vehicles including waste trucks, delivery lorries, buses, and mobile cranes. TPA believes it should be classed as a major industrial access road, which would mean under the Council’s own guidance it should have a minimum width of 7.3m.
Now the Newham BID is looking at legal action to prevent the scheme going ahead and has petitioned Councillors urging a halt to the project, which the Council has said it wants to start this week.
BID manager, Mel Richardson, said: “The independent safety assessment we commissioned confirms our worst fears that this project will cause extreme danger to cyclists and pedestrians along Newham Road.
“It also suggests that the Council has followed a highly questionable design process in drawing up this scheme, which we believe flies in the face of best practice, and the data it has used to justify narrowing the road is in our view demonstrably flawed.
“We are urging the Council to drop this dangerous scheme before someone is seriously injured or even killed.”