OPINION

Old Shoreham Road changes could be catalyst for proper cycle lanes in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 30 Jul 2021 at 9:16 am

The controversy surrounding cycle lanes along Old Shoreham Road – and now their removal – could paradoxically become a massive turning point for cycling in the city.

The debate is now properly out there with the city’s people. It is no longer just in the domain of a select few council peeps and agenda groups.

Almost everyone in the city has a viewpoint on it. Before it wasn’t something people gave much thought to.

I think most people in the city would like see more cycle lanes. It adds to the progressive uniqueness which we pride ourselves on as a city. They just need to be in the right places.

The debate has now moved on from having cycle lanes just for the sake of having them, the agenda tick box exercise they became.

There is now the opportunity to look thoughtfully at their introduction. Not only with residents backing them but so that introduction could possibly be led by them.

The debate has moved to properly integrating cycling into the patchwork of the city’s transport needs. It is no longer something to set motorist against cyclist – it can be made to work for both.

This can happen if it is properly discussed rather than a forced implementation. It will probably put certain councillors’ noses out of joint because they tried to make political capital out of the issue and it backfired.

They lost momentum and trust, especially after it was suggested they were manipulating the data and giving out false information as truth – and that they knew it. That was a massive own goal and got people riled.

Looking at it from an apolitical standpoint, viewing what each party can do on the issue, the ones who potentially can make the most political capital out of cycling is now the Conservative group.

If they put forward seriously thought-out options for new cycle lanes, they can grasp the initiative away from Labour and the Greens.

I’ve noticed the methodical way Councillor Robert Nemeth has been reacting to the significant increase in accidents on Portland Road, gauging public opinion and putting forward potential solutions that have had a strong positive reaction with people in that area.

If the Conservatives take that strategy forward and apply it to integrating cycle lanes across the city with local people’s consent, they could be on to a winner.

Similarly, having back-pedalled so furiously over Old Shoreham Road when they realised it was a local vote loser, Labour too is likely to learn from this and put forward new ideas in the hope of distancing themselves from the Greens’ imposition of cycle lanes.

I think it is fair to say that the Old Shoreham Road cycle lanes have dented people’s belief in the Green Party.

They stuck to dogma and pursued it relentlessly in the face of reason. The questionable use of statistics and being seen as careless with the truth was the start of their undoing.

But that’s the past and they need to move on from it. They too will need to create new initiatives as cycling is a natural policy for them.

Yet they will have to play it cautiously, making sure they have residents on board this time. Any attempts to force issues on an unwilling public will create a massive target for Labour and the Conservatives to exploit. There are less than two years before the next council elections.

So as I see it, all parties will have to look at introducing cycle lanes across the city and to consult properly and do away with the loaded survey forms designed to give a certain response.

Cycling could become the big winner on the back of this.

Yes, the council has been planning a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for over two years as well as working on the Local Transport Plan (LTP) but again this has been done behind closed doors – and again by small numbers of council people and certain invited agenda groups.

They are not really involving the public or communicating with people to get them onside. It is such a missed opportunity not to do so.

We have to be honest here, council surveys over the past decade have been worded to give them the results they wanted and not a true understanding of what the city’s residents and businesses wanted or would be ok with. This is true regardless of whichever party has been in power.

The parties need to realise that things move faster if you are open with people, if you engage with the city’s residents.

This is a great city and additional cycle lanes in the right places will really enhance it – but you need to carry the people with you if you want it to happen effectively.

Mark Stack is an Old Shoreham Road resident.

  1. Andi Reply

    Thank you Mark Stack, an excellent piece….this is the approach needed to involve Residents in the design and ASK cyclists which routes they actually use, and wish to use, rather than imposing changes which are a waste of public money and create issues which the Un-Greens have done. Please don’t forget the money is for Walkers too which is all of us young or old.

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    Really well written piece and councilors from all parties should take note.

  3. Iain Chambers Reply

    Mark, should all of the OSR temporary cycle lane be removed? If yes, how can there be a cycle lane network in the city, one that genuinely gets adults & children to the places they need to get to, without any more of the OSR being included? If no, which bits should be made permanent & where will they connect to?
    In the end some people, possibly thousands, will be irritated by changes to the city transport network but given it is already incapable of handling peak motor traffic there’s got to be a modal shift. Taking decades to make this happen kind of defeats the object doesn’t it?

  4. Jon Reply

    The Conservatives have opposed every bike lane ever built in Brighton & Hove. They even wanted to spend £250K ripping up the one in The Drive.

    What do political lobbyists do ? They propose alternatives that are never going to happen

    So climate-change deniers say that if CO2 is actually a problem then carbon-capture technology will be a solution
    so the Tories will post lot’s of pictures of Tory councillor on bikes propose Portland Road or somewhere as a solution. Knowing it will never happen

    And they’ve been really successful .
    Look at brightonandhovecyclemap.co.uk and there are hardly any cycle lanes and many of those on the map are just a white like which cars park on.

  5. Paul Temple Reply

    We here a lot about children but what do they do when they have to leave the cycle lane? What did they do before? Why if it’s such a popular ‘pupil corridor’ is there not, nor has there ever been a regular bus service along the OSR? All the schools are North of the OSR so anyone in Hangelton, Mile Oak, Hove Park is unlikely to use it and surely anyone South would cut up Holmes Avenue, Sackville Road etc to get directly to the schools? Barely a hundred people filled in the consultation to say they or there kids used it as a school route. Personally I think the children argument is a pretty blatant attempt at ‘spin’ on a complete and utter failure. Good article.

  6. jjgoldsmith Reply

    If officers try and warp the report to keep this you will pretty much doom all further cycle lane installations because if you cannot remove one because it was a mistake then resistance will build for any new ones for fear of being lumbered with them success or not!

    • David T Reply

      Robert Nemeth voted against all five new cycle lanes. Let’s see how he votes and use that as proof of his cycling agenda. His agenda is wanting to disrupt the council and prevent progress. Vote him out if you want progress.

  7. CHRISTINA Reply

    I think mpeople would like to see more cycle lanes.” Make it up as you go along, why don’t you? Hahaha.

  8. James Reply

    Most cyclists don’t seem to respect pedestrians. I frequently have to dodge cyclists who fail to stop at the give way signs on the sea front. Someone is going to get hurt.

  9. Fred Hanover Reply

    “Most cyclists don’t seem to respect pedestrians” – agree pavement riding and no acknowledgement of give way signs where pedestrians have priority is a real safety issue especially on the sea front. Also speeding cyclists who will stop or slow down for no one (including slower cyclists). Why do cyclists assume these rules do not apply to them? There is a place for cycling but we also need affordable public transport to get people out of their cars. Not everyone can cycle up Southover Street or Elm Grove – we need a transport plan that considers the needs of all users – not just the cult of cycling.

  10. chris Reply

    My wife who is registered as hearing impaired is regularily nearly knocked over by cyclists at full pelt on the pavement outside our front door. Recently the menace they provide is being augmented by e-scooters. Luckily she cannot hear the expletives that are delivered when she suggests that the road might be a better place for them.
    We both use buses, cars and cycles as well as walk in Brighton and manage to do so without casusing fear or distress to others. Why should the actions of a few idiots ruin it all for the majority ?

  11. Idgie Reply

    I look forward to seeing the ridiculous, posturing knots local Tories are about to tie themselves into given that we are almost certainly going to be compelled by central, Tory goverment to keep the OSR lane or else lose a significant amount of funding.

    Perhaps local Tories would like to reflect on why they’ve spent the last year breathlessly attacking their own government’s policy on active travel.

    • Chaz. Reply

      But they have not “spent the last year breathlessly attacking their own government’s policy on active travel”.
      They have rightly confronted the arrogance and ignorance of the cultist Greens who through their own dogma have deflected any tangible benefits.
      Thankfully Labour finally caught on. It took them a while but they woke up.
      Hopefully now this will mean the Greens being removed.
      They have acted shamefully but this is nothing less than we expect from the Greens.

      • Idgie Reply

        Chaz mate I think you need to read the news a little bit more often. BHCC is now facing significant funding cuts across the board from central government for proposing tearing out the lane. More cycle lanes and other measures to curb car use and promote walking and cycling is central, Tory government policy, and local Tories have done nothing but screech about both the previous Labour and now Green administrations acting on that policy.

        • Chaz. Reply

          Morning Green Squidgy.
          Good.
          We don’t want them to have more funding for ill thought out cycle lanes. They have blighted the city for too long.
          The Greens have failed. They need a plan, not dogma.
          Keep giving your support to the Greens though Squidgy, their dogmatic policies need it. Bless you.

          • Idgie

            It’s not just funding for cycle lanes, it’s funding across the board. Do you like having your bins collected? Roads resurfaced? Street lights working? Schools opening their doors? Most of the money for basic council operations comes from central government, and central government have made it clear they’re willing to withold monies besides the Gear Change fund if councils are not acting radically enough on active travel.

            And since apparently it bears repeating, the current government are Tories. Not the Green Party. Cycle lanes are Tory policy. This is what you voted for, not me!

        • Nathan Adler Reply

          The removal of the OSR may or may not have an impact on funds from the EATF/ Gear Change. The government requires assurances that this is just a course correction, (which it is), and that other schemes will progress, (which they will). This is EXTRA money for these schemes and has no impact upon other services they are paid from different funds, (including Valley gardens which is funded by the LEP). Please do not spread misinformation. Yes we miss out on £2 million extra in active travel funds, (we probably won’t), but this has no bearing on the rest of the £800 million budget.

          • Chaz.

            Green Squidgy giving spurious facts. Shock horror.
            No surely Greens do not do that do they?
            Dramas and divas in the Greens.

  12. Austin Reply

    Errr… no it’s not. It is specific funding for Active Travel. And BHCC will be eligible for future funding.

  13. jess hartley Reply

    An intelligent and considered essay on a council-authored cock-up. If the council had talked to cyclists like me, living north of the Old Shoreham Road, they would have a better idea of where we ride when we head into Brighton, or occasionally go the other way. The answer is straight down to the seafront, or occasionally one of the flat roads parallel with the seafront. The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane looks a route designed by someone with a map and a theoretical knowledge, rather than any practical knowledge of living and cycling here.
    Too many of my fellow cyclists seem hell-bent though, on giving us all a bad name, especially on the seafront. When I’ve been on foot, I’ve been hit twice from behind this summer by speeding cyclists who haven’t even stopped to check I’m OK. One had the gall to shout at me for being in the way. I was on the pavement, not in the cycle lane. The other was on the prom, where I think cycling should be allowed, although our cycle-friendly council bans riding on the prom, despite it being such a wide open space. Ridiculous!

Leave a Reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.