Between the village of Cross and the town of Axbridge there is a very busy road: the A371 Cross Lane. But there is only a footpath for pedestrians part of the way since the old stile into the adjoining field at the Cross end was removed by the landowner. Nor is there a safe cycle route. Now members of the public have to risk life and limb walking along the narrow verge or cycling along the road while cars and lorries thunder past. The old footpath was known locally as the Coffin path, as the deceased inmates of the Workhouse in Axbridge used to be carried along it to Compton Bishop church for burial. Campaigners fear that unless the route is made safe for walkers and cyclists we might be calling it the Coffin path for tragic reasons.
So local people have come together in the Coffin Lane Campaign which is supported by Compton Bishop Parish Council and Axbridge Town Council. Questionnaires have been sent out and 1 in 3 households in Cross and Compton Bishop are in favour of the campaign, as are 60 households in Axbridge. At the Axbridge farmers’ market over 100 local people signed a petition and would like a cycleway included in the plan. MP Tessa Munt has added her support as have The Rambler Association and Mendip Society.Talks are underway with local Councillors.
Tess Gill, coordinator of the Coffin Path Campaign said “..there are lots of local people who would prefer to walk or cycle the short distance between the two communities rather than drive, but it is just too dangerous.”
In April 1962, when the plans for the Axbridge Bypass were being drawn up it was recognised that there were concerns for the safety of cyclists. In May 1962 Compton Bishop Parish Council proposed a cycle track on Cross Lane which received a “sympathetic hearing” by Somerset County Council. However, no action was taken until the Cheddar Area Local Plan (1992) identified pedestrian safety as being in need of upgrading. Somerset County Council then budgeted for improvements to pedestrian facilities at Cross Lane and included the improvements in the Local Transport Plan. Even then they were never carried out. So to date the many attempts by the parish council to protect pedestrians and cyclists have been to no avail.
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