Manifesto for walking and cycling for Somerset

A recent Freedom of Information request showed that Somerset County Council’s capital expenditure on new roads was £47 million in 2018-19, with £116,000 spent on cycle infrastructure. This is an extreme example, but in the years 2017-19 for every £1 of capital expenditure on walking and cycling infrastructure more than £13 was spent on infrastructure for motor vehicles.

Taunton Area Cycling Campaign, in close cooperation with Safer Walking and Cycling in Bruton and Bridgwater Cycling Campaign, have compiled a manifesto. This manifesto calls on Somerset Country Council to reverse the way it prioritises car traffic over walking and cycling in its design and source decisions.
The manifesto is based on responses to a consultation with parish and town councils and other community organisations in Somerset in May/June 2020. Groups were consulted on an initial draft of the manifesto and the manifesto was amended to accommodate the comments, where possible. It has received support from many community organisations across Somerset.

Walking and cycling manifesto for Somerset

Somerset Climate Action Network has recommended that the five principal authorities in Somerset ‘remove barriers and lead joint funding bids to plan and develop effective cycling and walking infrastructure in all Somerset towns and key rural locations’. We very much welcome recent steps by the Somerset County Council to give greater focus to walking and cycling and the government’s recent announcements.
This manifesto sets out its signatories’ requests of the Somerset County Council as Highway Authority.


  1. Reverse the nationally prevalent prioritisation, which puts predicting and providing for cars first, with pedestrians, cyclists and those with limited mobility a distant second.
  2. Stop all investment based on ‘predict and provide’. To address long-standing historical imbalances future expenditure on Highways should normally be for maintenance and safety improvements only.
  3. Establish a specific and substantial budget with a named officer at Assistant Director level to champion the development of walking and cycling networks across the County.
  4. Adopt current best-practice guidance as standard policy:
    – Manual for Streets Vols 1 and 2;
    – The LTN 1/19 Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance.
  5. The County Council does not have the granular local knowledge to plan, control and manage everything that needs to be done. Having set the appropriate standards, the Council should devolve elements of decision-making and public engagement to District and Local Councils and community organisations.
  6. Highways’ advice to Planning Authorities should be consistent with this Manifesto. For any new development, walking and cycling connectivity with local facilities should be considered first, and s106 contributions sought to ensure connectivity is delivered to an appropriate standard. If a proposed development does not or cannot deliver this, its refusal should be recommended.

In more detail

  1. Establish a standard for routes between settlements, which will include use of regulatory measures for minor unclassified roads, upgrading of some existing public rights of way to multi-user route standards, and adoption of the Knooppunten or similar system for wayfinding.
  2. Promote the connection by safe cycle routes of all settlements in Somerset of over 1,500 population. The actual routes should be agreed by all the local councils through which the route passes and/or the local District Council.
  3. Ensure that all housing within towns and villages is within 400 metres of good-quality infrastructure, (which might include designated low-traffic neighbourhoods).
  4. Prohibit pavement parking across the County (except in designated locations agreed with local communities).
  5. Introduce a presumption in favour of 20mph limits within all built-up areas.

A summary of the feedback comments is available.


3 comments on Manifesto for walking and cycling for Somerset

  1. My only comments, as a walker of country lanes and roads, is that all cyclists should be obliged to have cycle bells fitted to their bikes and be banned from using pavements.
    And they should keep to speed limits!!

  2. As alway a negative anti- cycling comment, such a shame it’s not directed at drivers who pose a much greater danger.

  3. With climate, ecological and public health crises, now more than ever we need to be actively promoting, and providing, for a massive shift towards walking and cycling, from the early design stages of new developments to make walking and cycling the default choice to the retrofitting of safe paths to existing infrastructure. For too long pedestrians and cyclists have been the poor cousin, narrow paths, too many junctions where most accidents are likely, edged out on roundabouts etc. We need much greater investment to help reduce car traffic and get more people; commuters, shoppers and school children, to walk and cycle wherever possible, and create a much more cleaner, quieter and safer environment.

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