Published: 20:36, 14 October 2020
| Updated: 18:45, 15 October 2020
There was widespread approval from councillors on hearing of plans for a dual cycle-path and footway between Barming Station and Maidstone Hospital in Hermitage Lane, Maidstone, even though highways officers admitted it would be "sub-standard."
Government guidelines suggest a minimum width of 3m for a shared use path, but KCC proposes to create one that is only 2.5m wide.
Even to do that, the authority will have to extend the pavement into the existing carriageway, reducing the width of the road for vehicles.
As a consequence, the white line denoting the middle of the road will have to be erased and moved over.
The total cost is estimated at £207,000, but the council only has £80,000 to put towards it from Section 106 contributions from Croudace from a previous housing development along the road.
Officer Jamie Watson admitted the plan might have to be "implemented in stages" while the council waited for more cash to come through.
The scheme will add on to an existing plan to put in a shared cycle/pathway from the A20 end of Hermitage Lane up to the station.
That scheme is being supplied directly by the developers of the Whitepost Fields site, which has been granted permission for 840 new homes. Their path will be 3m wide.
As part of the scheme, the speed limit on Hermitage Lane will need to be reduced to 30mph.
The KCC proposal was considered by members of the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board tonight.
Cllr Dan Daley (Lib Dem) said: "I'm delighted. This is very welcome."
But Cllr Ashleigh Kimmance (Lib Dem) was concerned that the scheme "did not meet the proper standards" and suggested as currently drawn up would have pinch-points as narrow as 1.6m at one point.
'We need to get it right'
He said: "It's a brilliant idea, but we need to get it right."
He suggested a working group of local councillors, the Maidstone Cycle Forum and other stakeholders be set up to see if the plan could be approved.
Mr Watson said: "There are some sub-standard designs because we are stuck with what we can get.
"Ideally we would have liked 3m width or more."
Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem) said: "We all want this to happen. But we can't compromise safety."
He said: "We need to see a proper safety assessment of the route."
KCC agreed to liaise with the proposed working group to seek improvements.
After the meeting, the scheme was welcomed by local transport campaigner and former Maidstone borough councillor James Willis who said it went some way to meeting his proposed MERLin Project - The Medway Ecological Riverine Link.
Mr Willis said: "NHS hospital staff and local residents will be pleased that work is at last in progress to design a cycle lane running along the Hermitage Lane corridor.
"Last month, many resident and councillors, walkers and cyclists got together to launch project MERLin - a scheme to get both Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling councils to start getting people working together to provide links and space for nature on our border."
He invited any members of the public interested in furthering that cause to log on to a Zoom call on Wednesday, October 21, at 7pm, or call him on 07838 103 350.