Cycle lane continues to divide opinions

One family’s safer route to school is a potential safety problem for another household as the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane splits opinions.

For Stu Langridge, the stretch of cycle lane from Holmes Avenue to Silverdale Road, in Hove, has transformed his daughter’s route to school and improved his partner’s confidence to get back on her bike.

However, for Weald Avenue resident Andrea Holley it proved an unwelcome surprise, now compounded by a proposal to block direct access from her street to Old Shoreham Road.

The cycle lane installed by Brighton and Hove City Council as part of government-funded active travel measures last May has prompted petitions calling for it to be a permanent fixture and for its removal.

Mr Langridge, who works part-time for cycling charity Sustrans, described himself as someone who does not need an excuse to get on a bike.

Since moving to Elm Drive in February, Mr Langridge uses the cycle lane every day to escort his nine-year-old daughter to school in Holland Road, as well as getting in and out of town.

He said: “Since moving here and starting to use the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane, my partner has started to ride her bike again because she feels it’s a safer method for her to get our daughter to school.

“Beforehand, she would not do it, it was a different route, and she was frightened of riding her bike, unfortunately.”

His partner used to cycle to work from Poets Corner into the heart of Brighton, but was too afraid to continue.

He added: “Since we moved and the option to have a safer route has come, she is getting back into it. It’s been a real eye-opener and a real win for us.”

The family make their way to school during the morning rush hour from 8am, but Mr Langridge says the lane is busy with cyclists overtaking them every minute or so and picks up the closer they are to Cardinal Newman Catholic School and BHASVIC (Brighton, Hove And Sussex VI Form College).

Mr Langridge said that he used the school run as social time with his daughter as the lane was wide enough most of the way to chat about her school day.

He said: “It is enlightening because it makes her feel safe and that is a positive message. She is not aware of the possibilities that there could be a danger. She is relaxed about it.”

The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane by Hove Park – Picture by Stu Langridge

Where there are pinch points, he said drivers are respectful of them and keep their distance. He said: “I ride a lot and see all sorts of behaviours and I’ve been really pleased and surprised at the good nature.

“I’ve not seen any antagonistic behaviour or anything. It’s been a huge debate and I feared the worst but I haven’t experienced that at all.”

The junctions are not a problem for the family. However, in its recent public consultation about the cycle lane, Brighton and Hove City Council is proposing blocking the junction with Weald Avenue.

Mrs Holley is concerned blocking off the road will cause problems, forcing large vehicles to attempt deliveries to the Hove Allotments along Cranmer Avenue as Weald Avenue has the only vehicle entrance.

She said: “The most enormous lorries come down, offload what they have to, come down Weald Avenue and go back into Old Shoreham Road.

“The problem is Cranmer Avenue is a very narrow road. It is a typical ’30s area. Our driveways are very narrow, so people concrete over the gardens or park half on the pavement.

Weald Avenue in Hove

“Weald Avenue is wider from the point of view of deliveries. There’s more space. But lorries come up and down all the time. You get huge pieces of farm equipment delivering horse manure and such.”

After being surprised when the cycle lane appeared in May, Mrs Holley is concerned the road closure will happen no matter what the result is of the public consultation. More than 5,000 responses were received.

She said: “Rather worryingly, there were some workmen at the entrance to Weald Avenue before we finished the consultation doing something. They said they were measuring the bollards to go in there.”

Brighton and Hove City Council did not respond to a request for comment about the work.

Jams have become more common since the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane was extended

Mrs Holley fears removing the direct access to Weald Avenue will result in more vehicles using Holmes Avenue, which is on the 5 and 5A bus routes.

She said: “I suppose we’ll end up with traffic lights and we’ll be marooned.

“We are lucky we are both fit and walk an awful lot and catch the bus but a lot of people here cannot do much else.

“Sadly, it has caused the beginning of bad feeling in what was a close community.

“There are people saying we need to cut emissions and get people fit but they haven’t thought it through.”

The “active travel measures” public consultation results are due before the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday 22 June.

  1. Paul Temple Reply

    Its interesting to note that since the FOI revealed actual usage figures the debate about how many people actually use the OSR has disappeared. I wouldn’t let my son use the lane, he still uses the pavement and has no issues. The blocking of Weald Avenue, restrictions around Stapley Road, issues with queues at the tip and the utter madness of the proposed extension means the controversy is not going away here and will be fresh in people’s minds right up until 2023.

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    And in news today paid Sustrans employee is in favour of lane and local residents are against it. What a surprise. We all know a tiny minority, (under 1.5% of the users of the OSR are cyclists), want this and generally it’s the zealots of the cycle fraternity. Today it’s why won’t we save the children, will tomorrow be dogs in paniers?

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Makes a change from anti-motorist Sustrans paid employee and Green Councillor Jamie Lloyd claiming the cycle lanes are a great success if only 1 cyclist uses them, or Chairman of Bricycles pro-cycling group Chris Williams pretending to be an unbiased resident who “is not a cyclist”.

      Surprised we haven’t had comments from ETS chair Green Councillor Amy Heley, or her Labour puppet Councillor Gary Wilkinson.

      I assume the consultation was firmly in favour of removal of the temporary lanes so Sustrans, who designed these “genius” schemes, has to desperately resort to propaganda.

      • Chaz. Reply

        Very well informed comment, thank you.
        The Greens/Sustrans crowd will not like it one bit.
        But being Greens/Sustrans employees they will ignore it anyway.

  3. Patricia Reply

    As with the council re Sustrans, there is a conflict of interest with paid employees.
    These cycle lanes are going to make anyone’s lives hell who have to use it to get anywhere, especially come April 8th when Lidl opens.
    No thought for residents nor those who rely on vehicles for work, emergency services have a tough time already getting through traffic at the best of times but with these in place, in some circumstances, it will be a matter of death on the councils dirty hands.
    Nothing good comes from lies & falsification on data figures will come back & bite them where it hurts.
    I think a complete audit of BHCC treasury should also be pushed forward, that will open a huge can of worms.
    If it means voting Conservative to sort this cities mess out, then so be it.
    They can’t be worse than what we’ve had recently.

  4. Hendra Reply

    Don’t forget that we had a 61 per cent increase in cycling uptake on the OSR until the FOI found it all to be a tissue of whoppers. Which Green councillors were complicit in this lie? I wonder…

  5. Julie O'Neil Reply

    The Old Shoreham Rd (OSR) is a busy main road into Brighton & Hove and for lorries going to the port. It is entirely inappropriate to reduce the size of this main route to a single carriageway. Extending the cycle lanes even further West, past Portslade and stopping at the B&H boundary (Maybury Garden Centre) is pointless and unnecessary. Residents of North Portslade have no option but to use OSR to get to most places as we cannot get out of North Portslade from the North side. (We can go West to get onto the A27). There are frequently long queues to get onto OSR from North Portslade, and reducing the OSR to a single carriageway will mean massive queues and delayed journeys for residents. A new estate is currently being built in Mile Oak and 4 more housing developments for North Portslade are in the city plan. There will be far more people living here soon and the road infrastructure is totally inadequate for the number of residents. North Portslade is on the edge of the downs and is too far away and too hilly for the vast majority of residents to cycle into central Brighton, especially those residents with young children, disabilities, health or mobility issues, and/or carrying shopping or work equipment.

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