I write this after a day's cycling around Ipswich town centre, an event promoted by Sky (the communications people), and Ipswich Borough Council. There is clearly considerable expenditure in the temporary infrastructure required for an event like this, with pedestrian barriers the full length of the Waterfront, and in Tavern Street and Star Lane. Stewards at every junction, some with 'Stop-Go' boards to prevent cars running into the multitude of cycling families, some ensuring cyclists keep to the designated route.
Is it worth it? Sky obviously thinks so and they promote similar events across the country throughout the summer. They give away bright yellow tabards for cyclists to wear on the day, to keep and wear whenever they are out cycling, and it works. Thousands of cyclists are pedalling around wearing an endorsement for the sponsor the rest of the year.
This event was the culmination of a whole summer of events promoted and organised by Ipswich Borough Council, most of which were free to enter and lots of fun for the participants. My only gripe is that the Maritime Festival should be called a Waterfront Festival, that's not to criticise the event, which attracted magnificent crowds but to point out that there were lots of attractions on the quayside but very little activity on the water.
Friends of St Margaret's Church and others resident close to the junctions at Bolton Lane and Major's Corner are very concerned about air quality hereabouts. Rightly so; this is one of the most polluted traffic routes in Ipswich. But it is not only air quality that is an issue. Motor vehicles, particularly large diesels, throw out with their exhaust gasses lumps of pollutant of measurable size - dirt. Black dots that become a film that sticks to pavements, windows, buildings and pedestrians. Next time you pass check the state of the front of the Phillips and Piper building and suggest what we can do about it.
The first planning application for the Northern Fringe (sorry, Ipswich Garden Suburb) has arrived as expected - before the Supplementary Planning Document has been agreed by the Ipswich Borough Council Executive (there is still some work to do, notably on traffic). The planning application (by CBRE and Mersea Homes) is an 'Outline Application' for 735 homes, a primary school and a new district centre with shops and community facilities. There will be land set aside as public open space, some of which will be the green barrier between Westerfield Road and the new estate. The application is accompanied by a full application for the first 80 homes on the east side of the site (close to Westerfield Road).
I was interested to hear that an Ipswich Borough Councillor and a couple of officers attempted to cycle from the town centre to the site of the Northern Fringe to experience the problems and difficulties that will face resident cyclists when the first homes are completed. Out on your bike with the children on a Sunday you can probably tolerate deviations and delays as you cross the main roads, but an everyday commute requires a more direct route without the interruption of toucan crossings, traffic lights that prioritise motorists and roundabouts (which are particularly dangerous).
Needless to say, they had difficulties throughout their journey - they took different routes there and back - and established that it will take time and effort to increase the number of people cycling to work in Ipswich. It's a similar problem to the one along Main Road, Kesgrave: do commuters on their way to and from BT cycle on the road at the mercy of the traffic or cycle on the adjacent pavement stopping at every side road? The bicycle ride, with which I started this page, is a great idea but it was a Sunday, most town centre roads were closed to motorists and the route was chosen to be anything other than a regular commute.