CYCLISTS in Somerset are urging transport chiefs to wake up this week during a rally.

On Wednesday (September 1), members of the Taunton Area Cycling Campaign (TACC) will be at County Hall to present the Highways department with nine requests to improve cycling in the county - and to urge councillors to stop 'dragging their heels' over changes.

The Wake Up Somerset County Highways rally will get underway at noon, at County Hall.

At 12.15pm, there will be a mass ringing of bike bells and TACC will be presenting an alarm clock along with a placard with the nine requests to the representative.

A spokesperson for the group said: "TACC has tried to support the County Council in a variety of ways, putting in our own time.

"The Government is calling on Highway Authorities to enable active travel (cycling and walking).

"Numerous polls show strong public support for better cycling provision. The pandemic showed the appetite for walking and cycling more, when the threat from car traffic is reduced. There is a climate emergency.

"But still progress in Somerset is painfully slow.

"There is a marked contrast with progress in Devon, for example. Devon has recognised the economic benefits of traffic free routes, which have become important visitor attractions.

"We are calling on the County, yet again, to show leadership, be innovative, work with communities and up the pace of change."

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The rally will be proceeded by a cycle ride through the town centre to meet other supporters at County Hall.

The one-mile ride will start from Victoria Park at 11.30am and go via St James Street and North Street.

Pip Sheard, chair of TACC, said: "After four years of trying to work positively with Somerset County Highways , TACC members have come to the conclusion that as a department it is slow, stuck in the past (about the 1970s) producing poor old fashioned cycle route design and its attitude to working with local groups is an obstacle to positive change.

"We are not alone – cycling and walking groups all over Somerset feel frustrated at the lack of positive progress on developing these modes of transport which could be of great benefit to Somerset's economy, its environment, residents health and well being and in reducing traffic to meet national climate change commitments."

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Matt Gilson, of the Wells Cycle Group and Wells City Council, said: "When it comes to warm words and reports on active travel, Somerset County Council would get a gold medal.

"But for meaningful and sustained implementation, it gets the wooden spoon.

"There have been tentative signs recently that Somerset (county) council is slowly waking up, but the pace of action needs to massively increase.

"We want to make clear that this is not a criticism of individual officers but seems to be an organisational and leadership issue endemic to Somerset County Highways."

Somerset County Council has been contacted for comment.