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.”
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 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.
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.
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