I have a confession to make… I am a cyclist.
In some quarters, that can attract a certain degree of ire for, among other sins, jumping red lights, hogging lanes and inflicting middle-aged spread in lycra on a world that never asked for it.
For the record, cyclists who jump red lights infuriate me, and I personally have no desire for lycra.
There are bad cyclists, just as there are bad drivers. The vast majority of the time both coexist peacefully.
But as a cyclist, you are vulnerable. There is very little protecting you from the tonne of metal a metre away, or the HGV that whistles past, other than the attentiveness and skill of their drivers.
For all of the joys and benefits of cycling, Tunbridge Wells is currently not a cycle-friendly town. If we are to tackle the toxic air pollution levels and chronic congestion on St John’s Road, we must improve.
Last week there was excellent news, not only for cyclists but for families, schoolchildren and the residents of St John’s, as the largest 20 MPH zone in Kent was given the green light.
Work will now begin on creating a single continuous 20 MPH zone covering the residential roads bordered by St John’s Road to the west, Powder Mill Lane to the north and Upper Grosvenor Road to the east.
This is the result of years of campaigning and fighting from Lib Dems and Conservative colleagues, and local interested volunteers such as the 20’s Plenty group. It is so encouraging to see groups of volunteers donating hundreds of hours of their precious free time, and resources, towards something they believe in.
A number of questions have already been raised about how this will be enforced.
Not everyone will respect the new 20 MPH limit. But evidence from across the country shows that 20 MPH zones consistently bring average speeds down. And of course, one can only travel as quickly as the car in front!
Speeding traffic, rat runs and use of the pavement as an extension of the road are issues raised regularly by residents on the doorstep.
A 20 MPH zone alone will not solve Tunbridge Wells’ congestion, rat-running and parking woes. But it is a step in the right direction.
My Lib Dem colleagues and I will keep fighting for better provision for pedestrians, vulnerable road users and a better public transport offering.
The Lib Dems aspire for Kent to become a pioneering county for road safety. This is one of the first steps in a long journey.
The youngest member of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Peter Lidstone, aged 32, is a Liberal Democrat councillor and was the only candidate to successfully dislodge a Conservative opponent at the last local elections. With a full-time job as part of the charity Build Africa, the former law student of the University of the West of England is also fluent in French. His interest in politics came after attending a conference on the subject at Christian Aid about why Christians should get involved