OPINION

Pause, consult and get it right

Posted On 18 Sep 2020 at 8:20 am

Much has been said by both sides about the merits and deficiencies of the current “temporary” cycle lanes.

What is inarguable is that they were put up in a short space of time with minimal – if any – consultation. Certainly there was none with disability groups.

The A270 Old Shoreham Road cycle lane is probably the most controversial. Removing 50 per cent of the carriageway for a cycle lane each way is hugely unpopular with many local residents.

They are understandably worried about the additional congestion and thus pollution it causes and the ever increasing rat-runs through the residential areas of Hangleton, the Knoll Estate and Hallyburton Road.

Supporters have heralded a 61 per cent increase in usage by cyclists – a figure that will be called into question with an independent report shortly.

But even if we take this as true, that is 18 cyclists an hour each way and less than 2 per cent of the entire usage of the road in perfect cycling weather.

Prior to the pop up cycle lane, the A270 was a very good route that worked well for getting west to east and vice versa.

Cycling will be the answer for some but, for many others, journeys by car, taxi, motorbike, bus, lorry or van are necessary journeys that cannot be made by bike.

The plan of course with the next tranche of government money – tranche 2 – is to connect the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane in Hove to one in West Sussex.

But the West Sussex end – from the Holmbush roundabout to the Portslade border – is no longer being built.

So Brighton and Hove’s tranche 2 plan seems at best a folly and at worst a complete a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Indeed if the long-term plan is to have a car-free city centre why would you want to strangulate the two major arterial routes around the city – the A259 and A270.

The entire point of Brighton’s LCWIP (Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plan) is to look at routes that encourage cycling and reduce car usage.

The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane is the right idea in totally the wrong place, now no longer connecting to anything and will never encourage cycling long term.

There are far more direct, flatter and more enjoyable routes to and from the centre of Brighton for cyclists which most of us already use.

I was encouraged to see the local Labour Party take a far more pragmatic approach to all the “temporary” covid measures.

They are right to ask for a pause before we do anything further and they are right that we now properly consult.

This consultation must be more than just online. We need a proper paper consultation which can’t be shared as far afield as Sweden.

And it needs to be with the local residents of all the wards affected – as both sides of the discussion believe they hold the popular opinion that no one could be against their view.

We must not short-cut democracy and we must ensure that this knee-jerk and lazy planning is genuinely justified and not misplaced opportunism.

Rob Arbery is a moderator of the Remove A270 Cycle Lanes Group.

  1. Andrew nichols Reply

    A sensible and well balanced view Rob. Any future consultation needs to reach a much wider audience not just those with Facebook accounts.

  2. Peter Reply

    Excellent well written and pragmatic approach

  3. Marianne Vos Reply

    Cycling fallacy, “People cycling cause congestion / Providing for cycling won’t ease congestion”. In general, congestion is nothing to do with cycling, but is a direct function of the volume of motor traffic on the roads. Were this not the case, then we would only see congestion on urban roads, and never on motorways (where nobody cycles).

    Congestion on roads is due to motor traffic, and in particular, queues at junctions. While driving behind someone cycling is going to slow you down if you’re in a car or on a bus, it is unlikely this is going to add any overall delay to your journey. You will arrive at the tail end of that queue in exactly the same position – driving behind someone cycling has not cost you any extra time.

    Reallocating space on roads for cycling will actually make roads more efficient at moving people – a typical motor vehicle lane can carry around 2,000 people per hour, but the same space allocated for cycling infrastructure could carry around 10,000 people per hour.

    • Nige Reply

      Could carry around 10,000 people per hour, but won’t. That’s the cycling fallacy.

    • Rob Arbery Reply

      Marianne the fallacy is that if you reduce road capacity by 50% that road usage by users other than bikes will reduce by 50% – that simply is not happening, the A259 roundabout cycle lane fiasco is evidence enough of that. Constricting the road usage instead of letting it flow is causing the congestion on the A270, (it worked perfectly well until the bike lanes went in and reduced capacity).

  4. Nathan Adler Reply

    Well said, let us have our say and settle this.

  5. Billy Reply

    I have to take issue here on what Marianne Vos writes about road congestion.
    Road congestion is when traffic flow slows due to too many road users in too little space.
    It’s a bit like supply and demand. If you reduce that road space then you increase the congestion because demand hasn’t dropped but capacity has. The mistake made here is that there has been no increase in cyclists in pop-up lanes that they don’t want. it’s a misuse of limited space.
    The best way to get as many people as possible from a to b is too install a train or tram route but that assumes everyone has the same linear journey and has no need to transport goods. In reality, some of us can cycle or use a motorbike for that route and others need to drive a car, perhaps carrying numerous people, or in my case driving a van to transport goods.
    Congestion is increased if you reduce the road capacity by half in favour of a cycle lane which nobody uses.
    And let’s not forget that all roads were and are open to cyclists anyway. For those complaining about road safety, congestion and pollution, giving cyclists their own lane has not meant there are more cyclists or that road any of those issues have reduced. – Quite the opposite.
    If you want to reduce congestion then we need better public transport, or park and ride alternatives. Or else, on the demand side, you close all shops and businesses in the city centre, so that we have no jobs to travel to. Indeed, if your one and only strategy is to make the city ‘car free’ by 2023 or whenever, then just close all the businesses and shops down.
    The mistake made by a lot of naive politicians seems to be in chasing one ambitious/ideological strategy at the expense of all other needs.

  6. Max Reply

    The best thing to do is to reduce the volume of traffic. Motorists modify their journeys according to the road space available and journey times. Provide more road space and more motorists will drive.
    That’s why the city is now choked by traffic and the roads are less safe than they were 10 years ago.
    Reduce traffic by many means but you have to provide alternatives for those who decide to stop driving.
    And it’s only fair to give choice to the 40% of city residents who don’t have cars.
    Consult by all means but give people more choice about safe ways to travel as soon as possible. Then make changes where they are needed.
    Fast results, fast benefits, fast responses.

    • Rob Arbery Reply

      Reducing the traffic is good especially in high pollution areas like the city but in order to do that you need the arterial routes working well. Reducing traffic flow here just sends the cars and other vehicles through residential areas. The A270 worked really well in the stretch prior to these cycle lanes, (I would have a speed camera by the cemetery bit though)

  7. Max Reply

    Worked really well for who? Not for the most vulnerable road users. Not for the people who don’t have access to cars and can’t take the bus.
    Ignoring the people who are most likely to get killed and seriously injured is not acceptable.
    Give the most vulnerable choice about safe ways to travel. We need to stop discriminating against people who are most likely to get hurt.
    Make changes quickly and then make corrections – otherwise more vulnerable people get squished.
    We all know what “pause” means – kicking the can down a road built for non-stop traffic.

  8. Viv Meeson Reply

    At last a well written debate that enables people who don’t use the old shoreham road regularly to understand the problem of the cycle lane. I always thought it was a stupid idea, l just didn’t realise how really stupid it is!

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