OPINION

Council peddled false claim about Old Shoreham Road cycle lane – and here’s why

Posted On 04 Mar 2021 at 12:41 pm

For months, by carefully worded responses and moving at glacial speed, data about the cycle lane on Old Shoreham Road has not been forthcoming from the council.

However, in recent weeks, through the council being forced by “freedom of information” (FoI) requests to provide answers, three things have emerged.

Firstly, unquestionably, it is now clear that the 61 per cent increase in cycling use claimed to have occurred since the introduction of the “covid” lane last May has been disproven. The 61 per cent was a comparison between two surveys four years apart in 2016 and 2020.

Secondly, count data on Old Shoreham Road since the “covid” lane was installed (from July to November 2020) is now showing that, in fact, cycling use is consistently less now than it was in 2016.

And thirdly, the council has no data to show any changes in air quality, pollution, vehicle displacement and traffic volume changes on other roads.

Anecdotally, it seems that congestion has increased which would suggest air quality is reducing and pollution levels rising.

Labour installed the cycle lane and have supported the Greens in keeping it ever since. The council is now nearing the end of its so-called public consultation – this is the consultation in which the Green/Labour coalition voted to reject the Conservative proposal for a “yes/no” question as part of the questionnaire.

Of course, there was a very good reason for Greens and Labour to vote against that simple question … it risked soliciting the answer that they don’t want to hear.

You might recall that when the “covid” lane was first introduced, the council undertook a survey. The response was 66 per cent against the cycle lane.

The council has since said that the survey wasn’t a proper public consultation so it started again, this time without the “for or against” question.

But does any of this matter? The answer is no. The council and the Green/Labour coalition don’t have any interest in the public’s views unless they agree with theirs.

It has been stated many times – and latterly by the Greens at the Budget Council meeting last week – that regardless of what anybody says, does or thinks, the cycle lane will be extended through Portslade and will become a permanent feature.

And we know this to be true. Why? Because just around the corner is the council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

This is the council’s 10-year plan of where it will put cycle lanes. That plan includes permanent cycle lanes along the whole length of Old Shoreham Road.

So there is no way that the temporary covid cycle lanes were ever going to be temporary or that the council would listen to the public. The course has already been set. It will not change. The Green/Labour coalition has known this all along.

Their sham public consultation has been designed to solicit the answers they want and to kick the can further down the road, closer to that point of no return.

Let’s be clear, cycling needs far greater provision to make it safer and to encourage more to do so. Very few would disagree with this.

But there also need to be sound and well-thought-out transport strategies. Political dogma and bias within the council gets in the way of this.

It should be clear to those forcing these changes on residents and businesses that nobody is disagreeing with cycle lanes. They are disagreeing about where you put them.

Old Shoreham Road is the right idea in the wrong place. The sooner the council wakes up to this, the quicker they will get greater public support.

In the meantime, I warned of trojan horses and covid being used to sneak in otherwise impossible schemes. That is now all coming true.

But it would stick less in the throat if the Green/Labour coalition just admitted it.

Councillor Lee Wares speaks for the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    We’re going to miss Lee, he always is able to cut through the BS and get to the truth of the matter. He is actually listening to what people want, (unlike the council). As a Labour supporter I hope the local Labour Party reads this and does the right thing, vote against the OSR cycle lane and look for possible alternatives once removed.

  2. Hendra Reply

    So, there you have it in black and white. I’m sure cllr Wares wouldn’t risk legal action if it wasn’t true.
    Time to name names and charge the guilty.
    Perhaps we could even get a statement from Geoff Raw, but that might be pushing our luck…

    • Paul Temple Reply

      Just read that an official complaint has gone to Geoff Raw over obtaining funds using the false data. Who knows if he will reply….

  3. Resident Reply

    If “Old Shoreham Road is the right idea in the wrong place,” where is the right place?

    It’s all very easy to whinge and whine about the current problem, but I don’t see any realistic alternative provided here for reducing car travel, emissions, and congestion.

    • Ren Reply

      The routes we cyclists actually use – the seafront where there was already a reasonable cycle lane before the duplicate one and New Church Road and even Portland Road. They’re perfectly good, flat east/west routes. The Old Shoreham Road’s too hilly by half.

      • Imogen Reply

        “he seafront where there was already a reasonable cycle lane”

        Spoken like someone who was not a daily commuter along that lane. It’s massively too narrow for two-way traffic except in a few stretches, has several dangerous blind right-angle turns, and because it’s just paint on the pavement taking space from pedestrians it causes enormous conflict with seafront visitors, especially in the summer months. It’s also brutally windy which makes it very unattractive as an all-weather route.

        Also the seafront route isn’t much bloody good for people who live on or near the Old Shoreham Road, given that to get to or from it you need to go up and down hilly roads which themselves have no safe space to cycle, unless you’re lucky enough to live at the eastern end near The Drive.

        Fundamentally the provision of cycle lanes isn’t just a sop to ‘we cyclists’. Those of us who already cycle on nightmarish British roads are the exception. We need proper cycle infrastructure for the large numbers of people who would like to cycle but don’t because they don’t feel safe on our roads.

    • Dave Reply

      “but I don’t see any realistic alternative provided here for reducing car travel, emissions, and congestion.”

      This is exactly it. The council don’t appear to be interested in the actual provision of cycle lanes, they just want to try and stop people using private cars. The problem is, that people don’t want to give up their cars, so if their current route is congested by addition of a new cycle lane, they (or their sat-nav) just chooses a different route via narrow residential streets.

      The Old Shoreham Road is a fairly safe road for this inevitable traffic, it’s wide, straight and doesn’t have parked cars to block drivers sight lines. I can’t say the same about Neville Avenue, Holmes Avenue and all the other roads that have taken all the traffic displaced by this cycle lane.

      As to where the lane should be, the OSR is too close to much flatter routes south of the railway. From Hove Park to the western boundary of B&H, the Old Shoreham Road is a bit too hilly for riders of my level of fitness, and I’d choose to ride in traffic on Portland Rd/(New) Church Rd/Western Rd rather than head into town on the OSR.

  4. Jon Reply

    Another councillor who supports cycle lanes except this one and the last one and the next one.
    If you look at the cycle map for B&H and compare it to a similar size city like Southampton the B&H pro-cycle lane councillors who make a drama, oppose every cycle lane and haven’t got a plan have succeeded

    • JUSTIN Reply

      Except he is not opposing the A259, The Preston Park to Patcham and plans for Western Road and he has called for more lanes in his own ward. The A270 is the only scheme that faces any real opposition is the one that is so poorly used, (and that as revealed by the FOI is now undeniable) because it is in the WRONG PLACE cyclists are not using so why keep it?
      If this city is going to get onboard with the LCWIP it’s important to say where you get it wrong and relocate. Anyone that claims cycle lanes are not needed is wrong, anyone that backs EVERY cycle lane is equally a fault. We don’t always get it right.

      • Imogen Reply

        So what are people who live on, or adjacent to, the Old Shoreham Road who would like to cycle supposed to do if we must never ever ever provide them a cycle lane? Because the majority of people around there currently seem to prefer poisoning their neighbours and the planet with private cars, every single person who ever lives there must be shackled to an internal combustion engine for the rest of their days?

        In civilised countries like the Netherlands, every single major road has safe, separated space for cycling- even the roads that don’t see a lot of cycle traffic- because they understand that transport routes are a network. Saying that a particular road must never ever have cycle infrastructure because the first, poorly-connected attempt at it didn’t spark vast usage is like saying that because some rural roads only see a couple of cars a day they should be ripped out, or because some streets in city centres have a majority of residents who don’t own cars then we should stop fixing potholes on them.

  5. Nick Reply

    “Resident”, surely the objective is not to reduce car travel, emissions and congestion as you state? Isn’t it to provide a safe and attractive network for cyclists? That way we can choose to cycle. That might mean we cycle rather than walk, or use the bus or drive. But surely if the aim is to be anti-car as you suggest then that is part of the problem? Why not be pro cycling? That change of emphasis could make all the difference to getting drivers on board and the cycle network (along with the bus, train, road and walking networks) that we all want

  6. Rostrum Reply

    If you want to get people out of their cars there is ONLY ONE WAY.

    DIRT CHEAP public transport.

    Nothing else will do the job.
    Trams, Electric Buses and the like.
    They need to safe, clean, frequent and CHEAP.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Except with the current pandemic, who would risk using shared public transport of any type unless you really had to (and that includes Brighton Bike Share).

      I’m sticking with walking, or my nice safe personal car for the present, and I wonder if I’ll ever risk buses again.

      Which is a shame as next year I’m finally old enough to get a free bus pass…..

    • Andrew Reply

      In London where there was a five year fares freeze until last week and a £1.50 single fare, bus use (pre pandemic) declined every year. In Brighton & Hove bus use increased in the same period despite higher fares. Any bus company will tell you fares are only one element, services must be reliable.

  7. Chris Reply

    More than this – it is the principle of honesty at stake here. Councillors would do well to observe what the SNP and Mrs Sturgeon have just been through. Lying in public office is not legal (even if by omission or using the wrong figures) and does not bolster any faith in democracy. It undermines it. The green’s behavior I fear indicates little care for democracy and far more about their “aims”, and are seemingly prepared to do anything to get their way. Momentum I think is waiting to get on the coat tails of the chaos they think the Greens will wreak, given enough rope.

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