Radical changes to city streets including road closures and a new temporary cycle lane for miles along the seafront have been approved tonight.
Labour and Green members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee agreed to create a cycle lane along the A259 between the Aquarium roundabout and the city’s western boundary.
It was one of 29 new or potential changes to pavements and road layouts across the city as part of the Interim Covid-19 Response Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).
However, Conservative councillors Lee Wares and Vanessa Brown voted against the plan despite agreeing with many aspects of it.
During the virtual meeting via Skype on Tuesday 23 June, Councillor Wares said that temporary measures to make covid-19 better were likely to be “permanent” without proper due process.
He said: “Never let a crisis go to waste. All that appears to us is happening is shoehorning in a stable full of Trojan horses.
“People are trying to get in everything they could never do in normal circumstances under the guise of covid.”
He criticised the lack of monitoring of cycle traffic along the new Old Shoreham Road cycle lane and the introduction of a car-free city without the usual proper process.
Green councillor Pete West was “disappointed” with the Conservatives’ response, as he had put forward additional measures they supported, such as a commitment to developing the School Streets programme.
He said that although it was an aspiration for these things to become permanent, everything had to go through the proper process.
Councillor West reminded the committee that it was just over a year ago, during election hustings, that he questioned why Brighton’s famous beach was topped with a dual carriageway.
He said: “Our realisation of a vision we set then of reallocating space to cyclists and pedestrians is upon us.
“How far we have travelled in just a year. These urgent measures to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians across the city and getting people moving again set the stage for the longer term.”
The committee’s deputy chair, Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson, backed Councillor West.
He said “The potential benefits of the changes of the interim report going forward are myriad.
“Study after study has shown walking and cycling improve physical and mental health, builds more resilient communities, dramatically reduces air pollution and can go some way towards decarbonising the transport system.”
The planned A259 cycle lane converts the nearside westbound lane for cyclists with the existing cycle lane dedicated to eastbound cyclists.
Access to loading bays and disabled bays will be maintained.
However, 60 per cent of seafront parking will go in the first phase to allow for the new layout.
The monthly cost of lost parking from the A259 cycle lane is expected to be more than £27,000.
The committee also agreed to keep Madeira Drive closed temporarily.
Keeping Madeira Drive closed also has challenges including access for disabled blue badge holders and concern about the viability of businesses along the road.
Full closure of Madeira Drive would mean a cost of more than £108,000 a month in lost parking revenue alone. It also brings in fees from events.
The council’s assistant director for transport Mark Prior said during the meeting that any long-term closure would take the focus off vehicle-based events.
However, the report said that this closure was unlikely to continue for the long term in its current form.
A new cycle lane is planned between the A23 and Cheapside, to link the National Cycle Network with the Valley Gardens Scheme.
The authority is also monitoring West Sussex’s plans for cycling along Old Shoreham Road between Shoreham and Southwick.
The 3.4-mile cycle lane along Old Shoreham Road has its challenges when dealing with junctions and narrow, single-lane sections.
An experimental traffic regulation order covering The Lanes will close the north end of Black Lion Street and close Ship Street at the North Street Junction.
Market Street and East Street restrictions continue as they are with loading, blue badge holders and private access permitted at all times.
Queen’s Road between North Street and the Clock Tower, and West Street, will close to southbound traffic, except for buses, taxis and bicycles, as part of an experimental traffic order.
Gardner Street is to close on weekdays. Work will get underway also to close or partly close Trafalgar Street, following consultation with businesses.
Negotiations are under way with traders to see if they would welcome closing Sydney Street in the week.
Introducing new cycle lanes and walking facilities is part of a government active travel strategy announced in May.
The council has submitted two bids to the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.
It expects £594,000 in the first tranche and a further £2,376,000 in the second to cover the costs of new travel measures.
An earlier motion put forward by Green councillor Amy Heley called for work to move forward to make the temporary measures put in place as part of the action plan permanent.
It received support from Green and Labour members with opposition from the Conservatives.
A public consultation is currently under way on the various changes already undertaken for walking and cycling in the city.
To participate people can click on icons on a map to give feedback on specific changes as part of the online consultation at consultations.brighton-hove.gov.uk/parking/covid-19-temporary-measures.
Petitions taking opposing views over the closure of Madeira Drive and the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane are due to go before the full council on Thursday 22 July.
All four petitions have more than the required 1,250 signatures required for a full council debate.
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