OPINION

Old Shoreham Road cycle lanes must go – and go now

Posted On 21 Aug 2020 at 1:09 am

I was grateful to be allowed to speak in the debate on the Old Shoreham Road cycle lanes and the competing petitions last week at the full council meeting.

I found Councillor Pete West’s comments at the end of the debate worrying in as much as he seemed to be saying that the cycle lanes would be made permanent.

This is not what I would expect from the co-chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

It has yet to be debated there and he needs to keep an open mind on this issue.

Interestingly, Worthing Borough Council has also installed temporary lanes but made it clear that they will be monitored and removed if not used enough.

Many other councils have also installed temporary lanes including in Greater Manchester where they have now had to uninstall two lots of lanes.

This is far too pressing an issue to wait for the end of September when the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee next meets because the lanes have been in place since the middle of May.

We need an urgent decision now and that decision, in my view anyway, should be to remove the lanes.

After that, any consultation on cycle lanes needs to be limited to local people, well publicised and also needs to reach all residents, not just those who use the internet.

This is about local democracy and ensuring that all voices are heard.

We were assured by the council’s head of traffic management back in May that the lanes would be monitored closely but this has only just been put in place.

We keep hearing about the government telling us to install cycle lanes but they are not telling us to install them where they are clearly not wanted and of no use, ie, the Old Shoreham Road.

So here we are with cycle lanes in both directions from Hangleton Road to Sackville Road causing huge congestion at certain points at certain times of the day. And this without our schools being fully open. And for what? A small number of cyclists who may not even use these lanes in the winter.

A colleague monitored the usage of the lanes over a number of days and arrived at the figure of almost 98 per cent cars and just 2 per cent cyclists.

These lanes are simply in the wrong place and no amount of flag waving by various lobby groups will change that.

They are causing enormous disruption, were installed with little or no consultation and we had an online “survey” which excluded people who don’t use the internet – often older people who may well still drive.

I am a firm supporter of cycle lanes but they have to be properly planned, designed and consulted on. The temporary Old Shoreham Road lanes do not meet any of those requirements.

In the five years that I have been a councillor I have never received such an avalanche of complaints – many from residents who are cyclists themselves.

What also worries me is the damage that we are causing to the relationship between drivers and cyclists, with varying degrees of anger and vitriol being expressed – all caused by these badly planned lanes.

They need to be uninstalled. We can’t wait until the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee meets at the end of September.

The congestion, inconvenience and disruption is such that action needs to be taken now.

Peter Atkinson is a Labour councillor for North Portslade on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. James Reply

    Agree with what you say. Lack of planning or monitoring of usage. Are they looking at impact on pollution? Consultation should be done by post so it can’t be fiddled by people outside the areas.

    People should complete/sign these anyway.

    https://consultations.brighton-hove.gov.uk/parking/covid-19-temporary-measures/

    https://www.change.org/p/brighton-and-hove-council-no-confidence-in-brighton-and-hove-council?redirect=false

  2. Jon Reply

    Climate change is real, the UK is the fattest country in Europe with all the underlying health issues that go with it and avoiding public transport helps reduce the spread of Covid.
    Cycling helps all these issues. So what does a councillor do when seeing an underused cycle lane ?
    Publisise and encourage more people to use it.
    Look for ways to make it better & easier to use.
    Put rent-a-bike stations in his ward.
    Get cycling funding available from the Government.
    Address issues about accessibility and reasons why cyclists don’t use it.
    Or take the easy option just close the cycle lane, pretend issues like climate change etc aren’t real and people who can’t afford cars can just get back on the bus.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Nice try, but the council has provided 1.7 miles of dedicated cycle lanes that the cyclists just don’t use.

      We need to sort out the climate crisis properly and pragmatically.

      As its just one atmosphere then local changes are at most noble gestures. We need major national, and ideally international, agreed strategic changes funded by governments, rather than local authorities just having initiatives they believe might help, working in isolation, and possibly making the situation worse.

      Brighton and Hove represents at most 0.01% of global CO2 emissions, and transport is about 28% of that. Transport is the only topic that the city climate assembly will be looking at initially, so what about the remaining 72% including sources such as heating and businesses?

      For each of the schemes the council needs to identify what the predicted carbon savings will be and have measurements in place to verify achievement. Or will more schemes of undefined, and dubious, benefit be introduced just using “2030 carbon neutrality” as the reason?

      For example, how much has closing Madeira Drive, and putting in “temporary” cycle lanes on the A270, reduced or increased global and local CO2 emissions, if we take into account increases caused by congestion, other road users taking diversions, or now driving to other towns to avoid the queues?

      And remember the climate crisis is about CO2 – it is not about “toxic emissions” from local NOx issues (by the Clock Tower where there are few cars) or exhaust particulates, even though Phelim confuses the terms.

      And what have the changes made by the council done to reduce the spread of Covid? Where are the one-way pedestrian routes? Where are the barriers to keep cyclists and runners away from pedestrians? How many bus users decided to switch to cycling rather than get in their cars or work from home?

    • Paul J Williams Reply

      UK is responsible for less than 1% of all carbon emissions. Brighton and Hove is responsible for a tiny fraction of that less than 1%!
      Who are all these idiots who think that closing businesses down and closing the city down is going to achieve a single thing other than virtue signalling???
      Or is our council planning to sell any carbon offset we create to one of the more polluting economies of the world who are continuing to pollute without limits?
      But that would be crediting this Green council with the ability to actually MAKE some money rather than just LOSE it!

    • Paul J Williams Reply

      A certain amount of climate change is also natural or the dinosaurs would still be here!
      Perhaps someone could separate the man made from the natural in this debate as we clearly cannot do anything about the natural.
      The biggest toxin in this city right now is the Green Party who are joyriding our finances into a large brick wall driving through their agenda at the expense of all economic stability and future and against the will of 90% of citizens as a recent Argus poll indicates. They STINK and they have an absolute talent for losing money rather than making it.
      De-power them and reverse these ridiculous ‘temporary’ measures right now. We need a citywide public consultation on an integrated transport system which serves everyone, not just a few fit and able locals.

    • James Reply

      I walk, cycle, run and drive around Hove and in general support initiatives to make life better and help reduce climate impact.
      This change was rushed and not thought through properly. 99% of cyclists don’t take this hilly route and use New Church Road or the seafront.
      In reality it’s taking significantly longer for cars to use this major route now – it will be interesting to see the pre/post impact on local pollution…

      This comment makes me wonder if you even live locally Jon?
      “ Address issues about accessibility and reasons why cyclists don’t use it.”
      Terrain height!

    • Victoria Reply

      No one is saying Brighton and Hove shouldn’t have cycle lanes, it has cycle lanes that run pretty well.
      My point of view is that not everyone can ride a bike, I have to drive to town, I am in a chair and can’t afford £5,000 to get a hand bike, I also look after my elderly mother who struggles with her mobility, I feel you are not looking at the bigger picture. If I got in a twist everytime I was trying into town because of various issues or everytime the disabled bays get taken away or moved to a dangerous place I wouldn’t live any part of my life, What he said is looking at the bigger picture.
      Bususiness are being closed down because of covid and the ones that are able to carry on have serious delays or extreme can’t get their deliveries because of the amount of traffic caused by stupid amount of cycle lanes or misplaced cycle lanes

  3. Ben Reply

    I cycle on that stretch of road almost every day and would never have done so without the cycle lane. Keep it. It was too dangerous before.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Well done Ben – I’m sure Peter West will give you a medal for using this route. How much do you think removing 50% road capacity for other road users has caused carbon emission to increase?

      And before the A270 extension did you, like most other cyclist still do, use Portland Road or New Church Road instead?

  4. Cllr Les Hamilton Reply

    People who think cycle lanes will reduce our carbon footprint are mistaken. The recently installed cycle lanes are causing congestion and increasing journey times,leading to greater pollution.

  5. AJ Reply

    Outrageous. College students at BHASVIC who cannot drive have safe harbour to get there, and you want to take it away? Just because people are too lazy to make the swap? It is sad.

    Weak sauce councillor, weak sauce.

  6. Sam Reply

    I live on old shoreham road and the congestion and toxic car fumes have become intolerable due to these ill thought out and under used cycle lanes!!! The emergency services struggle to move and dont even mention the chaos outside hove tip.
    I am considering moving if these are not removed, it was bad enough before but now its ridiculous!

    • chris Reply

      It does seem like there are some issues to think about here. However its a little concerning that that for every new cycle lane (maderia, Hove sea front etc) we have people saying they are very pro cycling just not that cycle lane.

      People have mentiona pollution from motor vehicles. I wonder if the council have the right powers to bring in local bylaws requiring drivers to turn off their engine when stationary for more than a few seconds. Regardless of a cycle route remaining this would help residents across the city.

      Regarding usage (and aside from whether this is the best east west route for a cycle lane). Any trial really needs to be at least a year, and there are people who would only change their commute options once they knew it was permanent. But key point is it takes time for people to change (and people will change where they are willing to live and work based on these things).

    • James Reply

      The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane is preventing recycling which was already below the required sum

  7. Rob Arbery Reply

    Well done to Cllr Atkinson, we all know this is the right idea in totally the wrong place. Cyclists avoid the lane using the far easier and more direct Church Road and Portland Road. The misery it causes local residents with extra pollution caused by congestion and rat runs with cars trying to avoid the congestion is inexcusable. As Peter says lets have a proper local consultation asap, both sides of the argument feel they are right and both should welcome proper engagement with LOCAL residents, businesses and stakeholders.

  8. Sue Reply

    At last, someone with the best interests of Brighton and Hove.

    For several years cycle lanes have been installed with little use.

    But now Brighton and Hove is fighting for it’s life and the new cycle lanes will be the murder instrument.

    Most are not against cycle lanes, but there has to be balance, people are not all in a position to cycle and public transport might not be an option. The shoppers and holiday makers who don’t live close to a station, stations charging huge amounts to park.

    Following recession, a couple of poor Summers and then lock down retailers are desperate to make a little profit to enable them to survive the Winter. But the one thing they should not need to fight is B&H Council, they should be supporting them.

  9. Sue Reply

    Has the council taken the money from the government illegally? My understanding was that it was to give options other than public transport to keep people safe from the virus. Old Shoreham Road only has a bus service for a small % and there is another cycle lane just a few yards from the Hove cycle lane. Taking the government money is similar to benefit fraud. It would have been better to have proposed other ways the Government could help with post lock down which has affected the council and residents in so many ways.

  10. rolivan Reply

    I still think these two options were used because it was the easiest and fastest way to spend the Government funding the fact that the Old Shoreham rd work was done so quickly strengthens my thoughts as most roadworks take ages to complete.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Activists have wanted to implement these schemes for ages (the A270 extension was originally planned back in 2009 but was rejected for safety reasons) – with government removing the need to find local financing, the Green controlled ETS committee just went ahead and rushed these through over the VE holiday weekend without any consultation.

  11. Birgit Miller Reply

    I’m one of those Old Shoreham Road residents whose life and home have supposedly been blighted by the new cycle lanes. I love them – more cyclists feel safe enough to use the lanes (making the Recreation ground a more pleasant and safer place to walk) and the boy racers find it harder to speed and show off their car‘s or bike’s acceleration, and perhaps for this reason also spend less time gunning their overly loud engines. A bit of extra congestion is a small price to pay in my experience and as they become established, I think many more people will start to have the confidence to cycle in Brighton (I rode my bike 3 weeks ago for the first time since I moved here 4 years ago – I was always too scared before).

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Is that the Birgit Miller who stood as a Labour candidate in the 2019 council elections in Hangleton and Knoll?

      Do you have any consideration for other road users and the residents who have bene impacted by the “bit of congestion” with subsequent delays, increased emissions, and other previously quiet roads in the area being used as rat runs to avoid the queues?

      Perhaps it was lucky for Hangleton and Knoll that they didn’t get such an empathetic councillor.

      Pray tell us where it is you ride your bike to and why you choose to cycle along the hillier A270 route to Dyke Road rather than dropdown to using Portland Road, New Church Road, Church Road, or the seafront that leads to the most popular destinations?

      Or don’t you actually use the A270 for any major part of your journey?

  12. Peter Challis Reply

    Is that the Birgit Miller who stood as a Labour candidate in the 2019 council elections in Hangleton and Knoll?

    Do you have any consideration for other road users and the residents who have bene impacted by the “bit of congestion” with subsequent delays, increased emissions, and other previously quiet roads in the area being used as rat runs to avoid the queues?

    Perhaps it was lucky for Hangleton and Knoll that they didn’t get such an empathetic councillor.

    Pray tell us where it is you ride your bike to and why you choose to cycle along the hillier A270 route to Dyke Road rather than dropdown to using Portland Road, New Church Road, Church Road, or the seafront that leads to the most popular destinations?

    Or don’t you actually use the A270 for any major part of your journey?

  13. Wendy Boyd Reply

    Not easy for Emergency Vehicles to get thought with such wide cycling Lanes .

  14. Mark Tullett Reply

    So it’s safer for cyclists along old Shoreham Road? Can you tell me how many cyclists were killed or seriously injured over the last 10 years? And now it’s bot so safe because cars are using the side streets to beat the traffic. It also causes more pollution the Green Party and cyclists do hate. I saw 1 cyclist the other day while 20-30 cars sat in a traffic queue.

  15. Pete Ashworth Reply

    Everyone who needs to use a motor vehicle should be able to. Traffic makes that hard and slow, adversely affecting the elderly, the disabled and large families out on a trip, for whom the car is the most practical option. On top of the emissions, then, increased traffic increases hassle for those in the jam.

    Poor transport planning makes traffic worse. However there are no traffic jams without vehicles to sit in them. Streets do not become congested without vehicles to congest them.

    Most short trips in the UK are made by car (1). Most have one person in the car (2).

    When we able-bodied people making short journeys are in a traffic jam on the Old Shoreham Road, thinking about how underused that bike lane is – next time, use the bike lane.

    If you can’t, why? Most people say fear of sharing space with motor vehicles is the main reason.

    Want your family, the elderly, the disabled and the emergency services to be able to pass freely? Then we must get out of their way. Every time we get in the car alone, remember we are taking up the space they need. We are the traffic we are complaining about.

    As many of us rightly point out, that lane was built with our money. In our city. It was built for us.

    It is not cyclists that aren’t using it, it is us. You.

    Many of us commenting here say we support cycling, just not this cycle lane. No one I’ve ever met who rides a bike to go about their daily life thinks this country needs fewer bike lanes. If you support cycling and can cycle… cycle.

    There’s no traffic, it’s free, and it helps out your neighbour (which is you!) Actions speak louder than words.

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