Published: 15:12, 20 January 2021
| Updated: 11:49, 21 January 2021
Concerns have been raised about "unimaginative" cycling schemes with more controversial projects planned in Kent.
Kent County Council (KCC) seeks to create long-term green travel projects in four districts to encourage outdoor exercise and reduce rat-running by cars.
Around £6million of Department for Transport cash will be invested into five schemes in Canterbury, Folkestone, Thanet and Gravesham. They are expected to be installed by March 2022, the majority will be cycle lanes.
However, Conservative and Labour councillors were divided about pursuing the proposals at KCC's transport committee online meeting yesterday.
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab) said the "devil will be in the detail" but Romney Marsh county councillor Tony Hills (Con) said the projects would "unlock" parts of Kent to more bike riding.
Under the plans, a four-mile cycle lane has been proposed to run from Margate town centre to Birchington-on-Sea train station.
Former KCC chairman, Cllr David Brazier (Con), revealed he regularly rides his bike on the Viking Coastal trail in Thanet, which stretches 32 miles along Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
He told the virtual panel of County Hall councillors and officers: "Why are we providing another route when one already exists? I question the polity of imagination that has gone into this because you can travel, virtually, traffic free all the way from Margate Sands to Whistable."
Meanwhile, a new cycle route is planned near Folkestone West and Central train stations, along B2064 Cheriton Road and Cheriton High Street.
Cheriton Sandgate and Hythe East county Cllr Rory Love (Con) raised concerns about plans to remove some car parking spaces near the high street for the scheme.
He said: "If there is any further barrier to trade and commerce, it will not have my support. Good heavens the high streets are up against it already at the moment."
Also in Folkestone, a cycle route has been identified from Hythe to Dymchurch, along the A259 Dymchurch Road.
Supporting the proposal, Cllr Hills, who represents the division next to the route, said: "This will unlock the whole of the Romney Marsh to green travel and tourism. This is unblocking the dam."
But the Hythe route will require land to be transferred to KCC from the government's Ministry of Defence, with negotiations underway.
KCC's two remaining schemes will include a mile-long cycle lane from Gravesend to Northfleet and a new bike route between Canterbury's Littlebourne Road and the city centre.
Each scheme will cost around £500,000 to £1.2million of tax payers cash, including staff time and detailed investigation work.
In total, KCC has received £8million for green travel schemes since last year. At least 24 walking and cycling projects were created, but one-third of the trials were scrapped due to local opposition and safety fears, including Maidstone's King Street last week.
Last month, KCC launched a public consultation to ask residents their initial views on the proposed five schemes, which has received "strong support" and "very little opposition".
A further update will be presented to KCC's transport committee in six months' time.