POLL: Should bikes be banned from the centre of Wadebridge to make it a 'safer' place?
EXPERTS have been drafted in to help make Wadebridge town centre safer for pedestrians and cyclists after locals voiced fears a fatality could be inevitable.
Mayor Tony Rush confirmed yesterday that the town council was seeking advice from charity Sustrans, which helps communities develop safe transport schemes.
The news comes as dozens of people continue to vent their frustration and post stories of near misses between walkers and cyclists on Facebook page 'Safer Cycling in Wadebridge'.
Some say the narrow streets are unsuitable for bikes, while others blame holidaymakers who leave the Camel Trail and wobble through the town centre, paying little attention to pedestrians.
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Mr Rush said a meeting was scheduled with Sustrans within the next week, and proposals could include diverting Camel Trail cyclists along the river bank or round Polmorla Road, bypassing the town centre.
He told the Cornish Guardian: "The council is aware of the problem and we are working with Sustrans who are giving us advice. It won't be instantaneous as we have to make sure we get it right first time; this could save someone's life."
He said the main issue was the width of Wadebridge's town centre streets, and motorists, cyclists and pedestrians needed to take more care. Parked cars and delivery lorries could also obstruct people's view, adding to the danger.
"The roads are the width they are and there's nothing we can do," Mr Rush said. "I think there needs to be more care by cyclists, but motorists can be as bad. It's like riding down a narrow lane in the countryside; you need to be careful. You can't just blame holidaymakers either."
Mr Rush added he was confident funds could be raised to implement the safety measures advised by Sustrans, and the town council would work with Cornwall Council to achieve this.
More than 350,000 cyclists a year use the trail, which runs from Bodmin to Padstow, directly through Wadebridge.
A row has been raging for at least five years between concerned locals and cyclists who feel proposals to redirect them along the river bank amounts to a town-centre bike ban.
Writing on Facebook, resident Pam Gordon said: "We do need an alternative route for cyclists wanting to connect from one trail to another but not because we hate cyclists. If nothing is done the majority of people know there will be a fatality one day, and the thought of a child losing their life for lack of foresight fills me with dread."
Andy Jones added: "I totally agree that a short diversion would help no end in the town. I've been hit by a cyclist going across the roundabout on the wrong side of the road."
Andy Brenton accused people of having an "anti-cyclist" attitude, adding: "I've lived in cities with real issues with cyclists, Cambridge for one, and believe me Wadebridge in the height of summer doesn't come close."