Brighton’s toxic transport crisis  

Posted On 24 Apr 2019 at 4:57 pm

Brighton has an environmental crisis with illegal levels of particulate and nitrogen dioxide pollution.

Poor council traffic planning has contributed to making our city streets among the most polluted in the UK.

It needs a radical solution. Public funding to achieve this is welcome but the current plan for the last part of the “Valley Gardens” project ignores the evidence, has marginalised city centre stakeholders and is set to make things worse.

This is a huge deal for Brighton and if unchecked would represent a lost once-in-a-generation opportunity to put things right.

Now that the councillor most clearly associated with the current scheme is stepping down and the external consultant who led the design has moved to Australia, the local election is the time for all political parties to commit to a rethink and genuinely engage with the community they serve.

Brighton’s transport crisis needs joined-up thinking.

This must include affordable public transport accessible to every corner of the city, including a park-and-ride system to the east, west and north of Brighton with zero-emission, low-cost shuttle buses heading to and from the centre.

And it must ensure city-wide routes to the centre for cyclists and pedestrians – and better access to green spaces.

The west side of the Old Steine needs to remain as the city centre’s natural transport hub complete with its three iconic “deco” bus shelters.

Instead of separating Kemp Town from the centre with a five-lane highway, create a seafront gateway to encourage visitors to explore the east of the city.

Outdoor event organisers need to be involved in planning site access, power and sewerage infrastructure to replace generators and tanker trucks.

Let’s remodel unloved Pool Valley to create the country’s first cycling station and a dedicated active-travel crossing to the seafront, safely clear of all the cars, buses and trucks.

Why didn’t the council talk openly with the community when the latest design was being drawn up last summer?

Why do they keep claiming to have met and listened to resident groups, trade associations, tourism and leisure bosses, event organisers and other professionals when everyone knows they haven’t?

Why did they propose removing the seafront roundabout when all the data and their own commissioned risk register demonstrates that remodelling it would be by far the safest and cheapest option?

We are a unique, creative and talented community. Involve us in the plan and we’ll share brilliant innovative solutions.

Stop planning in secret. What are you afraid of?

Daniel Nathan is the co-ordinator of the Valley Gardens Forum CIC.

The Brighton and Hove Transport Hustings is due to take place tomorrow (Thursday 25 April) at the Brighthelm Centre, in North Road, Brighton, from 7pm to 9pm. For a ticket to attend, click here.


  1. Benny Reply

    Excellent and so perceptive. Brighton deserves better than the incompetents who have been bumbling around with planning for so long.

  2. Simon Phillips Reply

    One of the most heavily polluted streets with diesel fumes is North Street.
    And hey, cars are nowhere near it!!!
    It’s ALL buses!
    What’s the immediate answer to that one then?

  3. Christian thompson Reply

    Sorry if its not popular but there is a massive elephant in the room.
    Bus lanes are causing a huge increase in congestion because all of the other traffic is now crammed into a single lane sitting for hours jammed up, moving 1 foot at a time engines running with an empty bus lane next door. Its madness. Unfortunately buses are no longer fit for purpose, especially diesel ones. They are dangerous and inefficient. And then…the one way system is the godfather of Brighton traffic.

    • Nick Reply

      Amen to that. The bloody greens have ruined traffic flow along Lewes road with the bus lane. Add to that the stupidity of allowing Aldi to open a store at the old barracks site. It’s now traffic Armageddon travelling west to east from Hollingdean to access Lewes road.
      Get rid of the bloody bus lanes.

  4. Max Reply

    Yes, we do need less polluted city centre streets. The pollution comes from vehicles so an answer is to reduce the volume of traffic.
    * Help people to switch from private vehicles to public transport and active travel.
    * Cyclists need direct routes. Unfortunately Pool Valley is not on such routes.
    * Public transport is less polluting per passenger mile than private vehicles.
    * Park & Ride facilitates motorists so, unless an equivalent number of parking places are removed from the centre of the city, it only encourages yet more journeys by private vehicles, which further erodes public transport and leads to higher fares.
    * The traffic light junction at the Aquarium, arrived at after public consultations, is safer for vulnerable road users than any roundabout.
    * Making life easier for private vehicles encourages more people to use them, creating even more traffic, slower journeys and toxic pollution.
    Everyone in the city has a stake in having healthy, clean air to breath in the centre – so clear the way for public transport and active travel by supporting the Valley Gardens scheme as it has been agreed through public consultation.

    • Martin Spencer Reply

      You’re not listening Max, which is a shame.

      “The answer is to reduce the volume of traffic” – but you cannot deliver that. All your madcap ideas do is to REDUCE the efficiency of traffic flow, which is INCREASES pollution and costs. The volume of traffic is actually worse, as anyone can see. Empty parking places that people can’t afford to use, and traffic squeezed into stationary or crawling jams. Don’t you ever go at and look at the actual results of your policies in the real world?

      “Public Transport is less polluting per passenger mile mile than private vehicles”. A great slogan but a crass oversimplification. You’ll be omitting numerous unmeasured factors in coming to that conclusion. How about all the exhaust and brake lining emissions of the crawling traffic you have created by clotting Brighton’s roads with your special-interest lanes, bins and other obstructions. (…I’m not against any special lanes, but the current balance is out of kilter – Lewes Rd classic example).

      So now you’ve admitted that you think anything faciliting motoring “erodes public transport and leads to higher fares”. For years it always looked like Brighton’s road plans were based on being against cars rather than being for lower pollution, now you’ve confirmed it.

      Last two paragraphs. What a sham with ‘consultations’. But you can hear what people think now, can’t you.

  5. Mini Reply

    That’s right, Max, let all our conference and tourist visitors walk and cycle from London or China or wherever!
    Have you noticed how poor the train service is at weekends and how much public transport costs!
    Two of my elderly neighbours have lost confidence in taking the bus, having had falls when the brakes were applied too sharply. Mind you, they are not the only things making bus journeys harder for the elderly and those with limited mobility.
    When my friends drive from Horsham come to watch Brighton play, they use the park and ride in Mill Road, like hundreds of others, saving many miles of motoring as they switch to buses for the final section of their journey. That’s why park and ride is so popular in greener cities like Oxford.
    Cycling is not for everyone, for example, most of my elderly neighbours, one of whom suffers from arthritis. Parking is expensive in Brighton, her daughter regularly takes her to Holmbush instead, covering more miles.
    I love active travel but it’s not always practical, say, for plumbers, roofers and other tradesmen turning out for a job.
    There are pedestrian crossings with lights at every approach to the Aquarium roundabout. Turning the roundabout into a traffic light junction will add to congestion and pollution and harm the local economy, costing jobs and the tax revenues needed for genuinely beneficial transport schemes.
    Max, forgive me for saying it, but you sound young, selfish and ignorant and I suspect you live close enough to the centre of Brighton not to need private transport.
    To borrow from Neil Kinnock’s most famous speech: I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to fall ill, I warn you not to get old.

  6. Mini Reply

    PS I cycle almost every day in almost every sort of weather even though I live up a hill in Hollingbury, but I can see how hard it is for some of my neighbours to get around. The shortsighted single-issue fanatics are pushing more traffic on to fewer roads, creating more congestion and pollution with their poorly thought out pet projects.

  7. David Jonson Reply

    “…the councillor most clearly associated with the current scheme…”

  8. Mr Peter J Haberfield Reply

    its autogeddon out there.breathing apparatus on please.

  9. James Reply

    A double decker bus can carry 80 people in the space of about three cars, they are incredibly efficient users of road space. Bus lanes are a huge benefit for the 50 million people who use local buses every year – thats more per head than anywhere else outside London. Without them buses would be much slower and less reliable so more people would be in cars. Congestion and emissions would be far worse for everyone. Most buses in Brighton & Hove meet the latest Euro V or Euro VI emissions standards, modern buses are some of the cleanest vehicles on our roads.

  10. Sarah Cooper Reply

    No mention of the money squandered on our congested roads, meetings, road works and lost working hours. Why not find a similar part of the World where the traffic system works? Including the many hills painful to cyclists and demanding to diesel engines. With seasonal fluctuations and increasing periodic student traffic. Lanes unused could be light controlled, plant containers could be taken out of traffic lanes and the 20mph flashing signs could be ditched. Have seen and disbelieved your barmy ideas so let’s find something good.

  11. Graham Hale Reply

    Whilst the road planners think that a traffic light controlled junction at the Palace Pier roundabout will be better for traffic flow and primarily lazy pedestrians that a larger roundabout, there’s not much hope for us. We have needed a Park and Ride to the North of the city for years and Brighton Council did propose putting one at Braypool but NIMBYism prevented it. Now there’s a National Park to the north of Brighton there’s no hope of putting one south of Muddleswood.

  12. Rob Reply

    I love the way the Labour manifesto includes a park and ride scheme when the party’s had four years in office to canvass opinion on this and hasn’t done so.
    The Greens at least are clear about why they object to it, saying that it just displaces the point to which people drive. Which is of course exactly the point.
    If people who cannot easily come to Brighton by public transport can leave their cars in a car park near the bypass and catch a bus in, that will save an awful lot of carbon!
    Just wish I had faith in the Tories to pick a site in one of the northern Tory-voting wards for a park and ride car park. Somehow, I don’t. I suspect vested self-interest will mean this one keeps on running.

  13. Mel Wright Reply

    More people have been killed or injured in Castle Square at the bottom of North Street than on the Aquarium roundabout. One of the worst accidents on the approach to the roundabout actually involved a cyclist and a pedestrian. The council has not covered itself in credit with this suicidal set of plans. It will cost Labour seats on the council and hopefully prompt something of a rethink before it’s too late. Otherwise lives will be endangered, jobs will be lost and in a few years’ time it will all be unravelled and the roundabout returned (not least with the growing recognition in Whitehall and Westminster of the value of removing bottlenecks from the strategic road network, which includes the A259).

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.