OPINION

We’re being taken for a ride over the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane

Posted On 13 Mar 2021 at 12:12 am

Active travel is the way forward for much of this city and pursuing such an aim is the right thing to do. So why would getting rid of the Old Shoreham cycle lane help with that?

We were told back in May 2020 that the cycle lane was “temporary”. Officers and councillors would monitor its usage and impact and decide if it would be kept.

We now have a “consultation” to assist them with that decision – and I would encourage everyone to fill that in, regardless of its flaws.

Initially, we were told the cycle lane would help to encourage active travel and Brighton and Hove City Council trumpeted the 61 per cent increase along the temporary stretch – even if that only meant 11 cyclists each way an hour.

Now, after a recent “freedom of information” (FoI) request, even that figure is becoming unpicked.

The comparison is with data over four years old. Data has been lost. And looking at the actual usage figures on the new part of the lane, it’s around half the average of the entire road.

Encouraging cycling is looking very tenuous. Are there perhaps better routes for the west of the city?

Secondly, we were told that this cycle lane was for safety issues but when you drill into the council’s own data, there has never been a serious or fatal accident with a cyclist on the temporary part of the lane in the past five years. And that is over 440,000 journeys, using Department for Transport figures.

In fact, looking at accidents, money would have been better spent on protecting pedestrians. So is there a safety issue or, again, would the lane been better placed elsewhere to protect far more cyclists?

Of course, the third popular reason is about improving the environment. But with no environmental impact assessment, we have no data to look at. There is no evidence one way or the other.

All we can do is listen to the very vocal local residents and look at the videos that show traffic standing in long queues as what were once quiet side streets are used as rat runs.

The planned extension could also have a worrying impact on harbour traffic coming down the A293 on to a road with just one lane and not two.

Let’s hope the traffic modelling has been done correctly for this, unlike the seafront roundabout cycle lane fiasco.

Again, is the cycle lane actually a benefit for the environment? Or could it actually be detrimental?

Finally, does this scheme have popular support? Well, polls in the local press, the size of certain online groups, the council’s own survey and the way Conservatives seem to be targeting the four Labour Portslade councillors – I think they smell blood if Labour backs this – show the vast majority who live by the Old Shoreham Road are against the cycle lane.

Daytime congestion on the A270 Old Shoreham Road is reported to have increased since the new cycle lanes were created

Other schemes simply do not get the reaction the A270 scheme seems to illicit.

If the council wants to encourage active travel and truly engage with the local population, it needs to ensure that schemes actually work and they are supported.

An ill-thought-out, badly planned, terribly monitored and poorly used scheme like the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane, which the council steadfastly refuses to remove, means that no one will ever trust the word “temporary” again – and the electorate will remain suspicious of all future active travel plans.

It could indeed scupper the future Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan consultation.

It’s far better to say that we tried, we listened and it didn’t quite work so let’s look elsewhere.

Rob Arbery is the moderator of the Remove the A270 Cycle Lane Facebook page.

  1. Mark Reply

    I took the picture from outside my house that you are using. It was very rare traffic would tail back this far. Out of lockdown it is every rush hour. Cyclists still use the pavement. Car horns and emergency sirens were rare now the norm #accidents.
    Pollution has significantly INCREASED due to the stop start nature of cars. Any car turning right holds up the traffic. Traffic light management created traffic bursts leaving gaps to cross the road. Now it’s single file the traffic is constant making crossing difficult for the elderly.
    But the biggest indicator ideological stupidity is the council ultimately wants to make the city centre car free. Great idea. Yet you are not going to achieve that by halving the capacity of the main bypass that directs traffic around the city instead of through it.

    • Maggie O Reply

      I agree, I cycle a fair bit and live within about 200 metres of this lane but have yet to use it. It would make more sense to make an additional lane on Portland Road or New Church Road, the latter is sufficiently wide and is less busy than the seafront or Portland Road and the Old Shoreham Road. There is no real reason I can see that New Church Road couldn’t be one way along it’s length from Hove Street to Boundary Road, both Portland Road and the Seafront Road provide routes in the return direction.

  2. John Reply

    This goes on and on, and seems to polarise everyone.
    I’m a cyclist, I’m a car driver.

    This is the wrong place for a cycle lane. The flatter roads further south are far better, then feed up onto the Old Shoreham road.

    Who really cycles to Homebase, Carpetbase, Esso’s or the Sainsbury’s superstore? Those aren’t cycling destinations.

    Can we balance out the various ideologies? I drive, the traffic along that road is now impossible. It’s far worse than a year ago. I’m a huge cyclist, but that’s not a road anyone really cycles along. If anything, the pavement is wide enough for all, but that’s illegal.

    Here’s an idea! Why not make pavements wider? Leave the bit by the road edge for cyclists. So two lanes for cars, cyclists safely off road, pedestrians still have 3m walkway by the housing side? Cyclists and pedestrians slow down a bit for each other.

    Actually, almost every single school child I’ve seen cycles on the pavement here. Great, the road isn’t safe. I wouldn’t cycle on that road, why should children?

    For all the complaints about the lack of cyclists here… try this:
    4 lanes of cars, almost no pedestrians, nobody walks this bit, barely any cyclists before…. cyclists and school children on the pavement.

    • MB Reply

      This is the wrong place – Same old, same old. I guarantee the alternatives would generate just the same level of opposition, loss of parking would be a major one. Then you have the busy bus routes and bus stops which would be impacted.
      OSR links to many schools and Bhasvic and with the planned extension up Neville will enable children to cycle to school and reduce the school run peak traffic. Alternatives will not do this.
      Plus it’s good to have an alternative to the car if you want to travel direct from west to east but not to Churchill Square. All the buses go the same route which is not where people want to go and are too slow.
      Cycling destinations – anywhere a cyclist may want to go is a cycling destination. Why would a cyclist not stop off in one of those stores? I have stopped at Homebase and Esso on my rides and if I wanted to buy a carpet I could stop off at Carpetright..
      The pavement suggestion, while the pavement may be wide enough in some bits there are bits where the pavement is narrow so this will not work.

  3. Iain Chambers Reply

    What are the alternative east west routes for a cycle path? Are these possible routes practical in terms of things like giving access to local schools in Hove, or moving at a decent speed for commuting? If we don’t like proposals that our council makes, it seems to me that proposing alternatives can be more effective than just opposing.

    • Paul Temple Reply

      Totally in agreement with everything in the article. Iain it has been suggested tp use Portland Road or Church Road, (in fact Chris Todd FOE seemed to imply the other day both routes ARE possible). So there are the alternatives, although I would point out this was a ‘temporary’ lane so its lifespan was always limited.

  4. Jon Reply

    How much drama can people make over a bike lane? Look at a B&H cycle lane map and see how few and disconnected there are and most are just a white line.
    The usual suspects claim they’re not against bike lanes just this one and the last one and the next one.
    There’s an increase of over half a million vehicles every year in the UK. I don’t what their solution is but it’s bike lanes that are causing traffic jams apparently

    • Jojo Goldsmith Reply

      How much drama can people make over a bike lane? Bit ironic when pro campaigners have had two socially distanced cycle celebrations, written over a dozen letters in the local press, written entire pieces on Portslade cycling, tweeted out to gain support from across the country, gerrymandered a petition and enlisted a Deputy Head to rope in children must be safe argument.

  5. Nathan Adler Reply

    I think the most interesting part of this debate is that the Greens and Labour mistakenly thought opposition to the OSR cycle lane was ‘red faced gammons’ and it clearly is not. As the article says not admitting you are wrong, especially now we know cycle lane usage has gone backwards on the OSR will just cause further resentment. Anchoring your active travel plans on a failure will prove a disaster in the long term.

    • M Reply

      Cycle lane usage has not gone backwards, don’t believe everything you read in the Argus, that is an absurd statement. No one cycled there there before except a very few intrepid souls as it was too dangerous. Now people are cycling there with the lanes as it is now possible to do so safely. So it is not possible to have gone backwards. I hope the Council Transport team will respond to that article

  6. John Bell Reply

    I love cycling. I love bike lanes. The council unhappily are clueless. The one on the seafront worked fine, they made it one way and closed a lane of the road for the other one, so now the roads are constantly in traffic jams. The lane on the seafront going West is daft. It has traffic lights with no separate signals for the bikes, whereas before we all just cycled up and down the seafront. Badly thought out, no planning. Go look at Copenhagen or Amsterdam if you want to see how to do this properly. Until then, put it all back as it was before.

  7. John Reply

    Astonishing that a bike lane that takes up about 1.5M width of a road can cause traffic jams, air pollution and ruin so many people lives.

    Then they drive around the thousands of streets without bike lanes like Portland Road with cars parked on either which take up about 1.5m of road width and don’t cause traffic jams, air pollutions and ruin so many people lives

    They say they’re pro-bike lanes but this one is in the wrong place, Portland Road would be better until a proposal for a Portland Road bike lane is put forward and then they’ll complain about losing car parking spaces

    And so it goes on

    • Sarah Lancing Reply

      Doesn’t it take up 3 meters of road though? I live on Portland Road and would welcome a cycle lane. Sensible planning would mean minimal parking loss and encourage cyclists to the new shops that have popped up along the Eastern end

    • Nathan Adler Reply

      Doesn’t it take up 3 meters though? I don’t get the parked cars statement either? Those two lanes on the OSR have seen a 50% reduction in capacity and we have so seen no reduction in car usage and only 1.5% use of cyclists. Squeezing cars, buses, taxies, lorries, motorbikes, delivery vans into half the space will obviously cause congestion, which you may feel is worth it and that is fair enough but not recognising it is illogical

  8. Mike Reply

    Cars cause congestion, not bikes.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      No – the congestion for other road users didn’t exist until the cycle lane was introduced.

      If we got rid of the cycle lanes must of the congestion would disappear when emissions would drop.

      But nice try Mike 😉

  9. Adam the truth bringer Reply

    With the rise in pollution caused by the imposition of the bike lanes without consultation, ( an act akin to furring up a major artery on purpose.) could Phelim the daft be sued by the people who’s health has been seriously affected by this? Perhaps all Green councillors regardless of sex or gender could have a 6.00 pm curfew imposed to minimise their damage upon the good people of Brighton & Hove. Just a thought 😊

    • M Reply

      Vehicles cause pollution not bike lanes, they are part of the solution. Old Shoreham Road was one of the city’s pollution monitoring hotspots, though not the worst. Funny no one seemed concerned about the pollution levels until now

      • Nathan Adler Reply

        But if you reduce the capacity of a road by 50% but do not see that decline in motorised vehicle usage, (which we are not), you have more congestion and pollution ergo the cycle lane is leading to extra pollution. If the Greens had not refused an Environmental Impact Assesment on the scheme we would know for sure. Funny that.

  10. Dontwanthassle Reply

    Many of the councillors have only had success in council elections. Why do we expect them to be good at making decisions. I worked with one and she was a nightmare. Tried to tell me how to do my job that I was qualified/highly experienced in.

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