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Economic case is key to getting cycle schemes green light, says Southampton junction pioneer

Proving the economic case for cycle safety schemes is the key to getting them built, according to Balfour Beatty Living Places urban design manager Simon Taylor.

He said that with local authorities’ budgets under huge pressure, contractors have a critical role in helping them win funding for infrastructure projects from external sources.

The Copenhagen-style junction in Southampton is being built with funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and charity Sustrans as well as some money from the city council.

But competition for funding is fierce and schemes will rarely succeed on cycle safety grounds alone, according to Taylor.

“When you put in a bid there are a number of criteria you have to satisfy and one may be cutting road deaths but another might be creating jobs,” he said.

“All your projects have to look at all these criteria – they can’t have an isolated focus.”

Balfour Beatty Living Places works closely with Southampton Council to understand residents’ and businesses’ infrastructure problems and work out ways to solve them.

For one scheme, the contractor paved a section of the city’s Oxford Street, creating a “shared space” for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

“We took away the barriers, the signs and the lines,” said Taylor.

“Traffic comes through at a slower rate now but we haven’t changed the speed limit.”

This cycle safety measure has also had a direct effect on the economy, with six new businesses setting up on the street due to its more attractive nature.

Taylor says “urbanism” departments are becoming increasingly common as civil engineers, landscape architects and transport experts come together to make more of the tight spaces in modern cites.

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