The Falmouth and Penryn area has been chosen as one of two towns in Cornwall for a project to promote cycling as part of wider plans to improve local transport and encourage 'greener' ways of getting around the towns.

This was the news from Rebecca Lyle, principal transport officer for Cornwall Council, who spoke at an online event hosted by Greenpeace Falmouth and Penryn Local Group to discuss the improvements needed to local transport and how investing in zero carbon public transport, walking and cycling had a part to play in a 'green recovery' from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her presentation she said that more than £1.5 million of Section 106 funds were committed to walking and cycling improvements, including to the Boslowick Road crossing, Swanvale Green Path, Tregoniggie Woods route and a Bickland Water Road cycleway.

Falmouth and Penryn has been prioritised as one of two 'cycle demonstration towns' in Cornwall.

A method called the ‘Propensity to Cycle Tool’ is used to establish which areas might be best suited – and an initial assessment in 2017 showed that out of five locations – Bodmin, Falmouth, Newquay, Penzance and Truro – Falmouth came out top as having the most cycling potential, based on the use of electric ‘e-bikes’.

Read next: Young couple's petition over Falmouth housing after losing out to students

The potential route would go along the A39 and Dracaena Avenue between Commercial Road in Penryn and the Falmouth University campus and town centre.

A working group has been set up to develop a design, which is still in the very early stages, with a number of options being looked at.

It estimated that this would reduce Falmouth’s carbon output by between 400,000 and 450,000kg.

Initial funding was received by Cornwall Council for temporary projects during the Covid-19 pandemic and in August this year the council submitted a bid for the second round of funding for projects that had already been put in progress before the pandemic hit: a Falmouth pedestrianisation trial and a Falmouth and Penryn commuter route trial.

Falmouth Packet:

Climate campaigners call for cycling improvements with spray paint. Photo: Greenpeace

Both schemes are being worked up in readiness for a funding announcement shortly, although are still in the very early stages with nothing decided for certain.

The pedestrianisation trial would see bollards put in place at the beginning of Market Street, to close traffic to all of Market Street, Church Street and part of Arwenack Street, as far as Swanpool Street, between 11am and 4pm each day.

Some traffic would still be allowed through, including buses and emergency vehicles, controlled by automatic numberplate recognition.

Cycle racks and other accessories would be brought in to encourage the use of bikes.

There was a long-term ambition to bring in a contraflow cycle lane from Swanpool Street to the beginning of Market Street, subject to feasibility.

This would allow cyclists to move between Trago Mills and the Prince of Wales Pier on the flattest part of the town, and could be a possible future phase of work.

Read next: Cornwall could get £3.8m cycling and BMX centre to train the south west

Ms Lyle said the government had committed £2 billion to encourage walking and cycling through its ‘Gear Change’ project with the Department for Transport.

Inclusive cycling was the underlying theme, so that people of all ages and abilities were considered.

The key design principles are that cyclists must be separated from traffic both at junctions and on the stretches of road between them, as well as from pedestrians.

Barriers to cycling, such as chicanes, should be avoided, and routes should only be designed by people who have experienced the road on a bicycle.

The online event took place last Wednesday and was attended by around 30 people including members of Truro Cycling Campaign, Truro Loops Project, Falmouth and Penryn Community Network Links, local environmental groups, residents, and Penryn town councillor Jo Garret.

Other main speakers included Richard Lancaster representing Greenpeace UK and Dean Evans of Falmouth and Penryn Cycling Campaign.

The hour and a half event saw discussions on the up-and-coming plans for reducing traffic and carbon emissions by improving sustainable transport in the area.

Jenna Lane, of Greenpeace Falmouth and Penryn, said: "Here in Falmouth and Penryn we need cheaper, more reliable public transport to work locations in other Cornish towns, more defined and safer cycle routes - and ultimately, less traffic.’

MP for Truro and Falmouth, Cherilyn Mackrory was unable to attend the event but passed on her support in an email to the Greenpeace group.