Councillors urged to count cost before scrapping Old Shoreham Road cycle lane

Councillors are being urged to keep the “temporary” Old Shoreham Road cycle lane in Hove because the government might withhold almost £280,000 in funding for cycle training.

A committee rejected plans to make the temporary lane permanent last month but next week a sub-committee will be asked to overturn the decision.

And in the meantime campaigners, council officials, Green councillors and even a government minister have turned up the heat on those opposed the controversial cycle lane.

Brighton and Hove City Council has called an Environment, Transport and Sustainability (ETS) Urgency Sub-committee meeting for 11am on Tuesday (10 August).

Three councillors – one each from the Greens, Labour and the Conservatives – will consider a 34-page report in which officials again recommend retaining the cycle lane.

If councillors vote again to remove the temporary lane, officials have suggested keeping the section between The Drive and Holmes Avenue.

The earlier decision was made after a heated four-hour debate at Hove Town Hall when a series of other “active travel” measures were voted through.

Now, officials have told councillors that it would cost £50,000 to restore the road as well as placing other government funding at risk.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has told the council that it would require additional assurances about the council’s commitment to active travel before releasing further funds.

Proposals to go before councillors on Tuesday include adjusting zig-zag markings at various crossing points along the road, adding cycle priority signals at junctions and “improved” pedestrian crossings.

More “wands” are also proposed at various points along the road as well as replacements for those previously removed.

The council wants to move the central reservation by the corner of Olive Road and create a temporary one from water barriers to shorten the right turn lane.

The “temporary” Old Shoreham Road cycle lane was installed along almost a mile and a half on each side of the Old Shoreham Road on Monday 11 May last year.

The scheme was paid for from the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund which was set up fund schemes designed to allocate more road space to cyclists and pedestrians.

Councillor Dawn Barnett was among the first to criticise the new cycle lane

The move, during the first national coronavirus lockdown, was in response to the government’s instruction to people to find alternatives to public transport whenever possible.

Brighton and Hove was awarded more than £660,000 for active travel measures including changes on Brighton seafront.

Part of a cycle lane – between the Palace Pier and the bottom of West Street – was removed after it was blamed for delays to bus services. Changes to Madeira Drive also attracted criticism.

The criticisms revolved around the lack of consultation, the disproportionate problems created for people with disabilities and the artificial creation of unnecessary traffic jams which better planning would have avoided.

A year ago, the council was allocated a further £2.3 million from the government’s Active Travel Fund for more work, including an extension of the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane into Portslade.

The £2.3 million included £249,000 for “improvements” to the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane.

A report to the sub-committee meeting on Tuesday said: “Should these funds not be used as intended within the grant application, then the council would need to request reallocation from the DfT, although the timescales to design, consult and implement an alternative scheme by March 2022 is not believed to be achievable.

“Reallocation within the city is not certain and, potentially, this grant funding would be lost.

“If the committee agrees to remove the phase 1 temporary cycle lane on Old Shoreham Road, this will cost an estimated £50,000.

“However, if the section between Holmes Avenue and The Drive grant is retained, this will reduce to £20,000.

“There is no funding set aside to cover this cost and the Active Travel funding cannot be used for this purpose.

“Therefore, this additional cost would need to come from existing capital resources within the Local Transport Plan and so expenditure plans for this capital programme would need to be reprioritised to accommodate this additional expenditure.

“The DfT has stated in a letter to all transport authorities that schemes need to be allowed to bed in and tested against normal traffic conditions.

“Premature removal of schemes without time to demonstrate a difference would waste taxpayers’ money.

“The DfT can and have sanctioned councils who have removed the phase 1 active travel measures by removing funding and/or removing access to future Active Travel funding rounds.”

West Sussex County Council is understood to be barred from bidding for funds from “tranche three” of the government’s Active Travel Fund.

The sub-committee report said that an “equalities impact assessment” found that removing the cycle lane would have a “disproportionate impact on families, particularly children, women and disabled persons who are using the lanes as a safe, protected cycling route to access the city and local education settings.

“Feedback from recent public consultation indicates that more people who previously did not feel safe or confident cycling on Old Shoreham Road now do, following the introduction of the protected cycle lanes, including disabled people.

“It is likely that these people will return to using other modes of transport to travel in the area if the temporary cycle lanes are removed.

“This may increase congestion and lead to poorer air quality in the area. It will also have an impact on people’s level of physical activity and health.”

When councillors debated the issue last month, Green councillor Jamie Lloyd said that all of Hove’s secondary schools are north of the road and could not be moved. He said that children used the cycle lane to reach them.

The report said that 6,171 primary and secondary school pupils at eight schools in the Old Shoreham Road area could benefit directly from the cycle route.

More than 4,000 people responded to a public consultation about improving and extending the active travel schemes in Brighton and Hove.

The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane attracted the highest number of negative or critical comments.

Councillors closest to the route also report an unprecedentedly high number of complaints from voters since it was installed.

The Environment, Transport and Sustainability Urgency Sub-committee is due to start at 11am on Tuesday (10 August) at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast.

  1. Chris Reply

    Did removal of the “permanent/temporary” lane between the Palace Pier and West Street disbar the council from further funding? That was done to remove the blockage causing congestion, the same reason for removing the OSR lane. Come on Council, listen to your residents’ wishes for a change rather than trying another tack to get what you think we want.

    • A Holley Reply

      I was at the ETS meeting and a question was asked specifically about whether getting rid of the temp OSR cycle lane would cause loss of funding … and the answer was NO. This is because other initiatives will remain.
      Unfortunately the Minutes of that meeting have not been published yet – I asked yesterday.

  2. Peter Challis Reply

    So sad that anonymous council officers under instruction from Green councillors, ignored the democratic decision made with Labour and Conservative councillors at the ETS special meeting to plan removal of the OSR cycle lane extension, did nothing to progress this

    Instead they spent 2 weeks desperately regurgitating unsubstantiated,
    emotive, reasons to keep the barely used lanes that cyclists avoid, and now want to proceed with upgrades to address queuing and safety problems that have existed for the past 15 months.

    However, it’s typical of the contempt Brighton & Hove Greens show for those that disagree with them. Does the Green Party understand the meaning of democracy?

    • Linda Jameson Reply

      I think you need to re-read what was actually passed by Labour and Conservative councillors. Their amendments asked for a report into removing it and the Conservative language was even weaker, asking for a report into the “implications” of removing it – which is exactly what this seems to be.

      • Peter Challis Reply

        Nice try – strange that the “implications” are only “negative” ones that relate to the effect on cycling and spending, and not to the “positive” ones such as reducing delays, congestion, and emissions for other road users and stopping traffic using rat runs (such as Stapely and Hallyburton) to avoid queues or to avoid the area entirely and take their custom elsewhere affecting local businesses.

        Instead we see the same old claims of numbers of school children that “could” cycle to school along any route rather than the actual number that use the Old Shoreham Road temporary cycle lane extensions which are minimal looking at council statistics for the total number of cyclists in 2020 for both directions, so divide by 2 for the number each way:

        ATC Site 974 – OSR by BHASVIC – 533 per day
        ATC Site 975 – OSR by Cardinal Newman – 300 per day
        ATC Site 976 – Temporary OSR by Homebase – 253 per day

        In comparison for all traffic on the A270 near to Benfield School:

        ATC Site 5 – OSR by Sainsbury’s – 23,597 per day

        • A Holley Reply

          Thank you Peter for publishing actual statistics on Cycle numbers, I have been requesting those for months for the new monitoring box on the OSR next to,the Tip….. with no luck. The only comparative statistics the Council has Amy was from one week of monitoring in July 2020 ‘the average number of cyclists was 545 per day nr Lullington R’s. The number now is 253 A MASSIVE DECREASE OF 64%. In June 2016 it was average 339 per day so these huge, dedicated, bollarded cycle lanes are used 25% LESS than when cyclists just used the road with 2 lanes of traffic.

    • A Holley Reply

      No I agree, they don’t particularly the ETS Chair who is incredibly biased and was pulled up on it during the ETS meeting.

  3. Robert Arbery Reply

    The only reason Labour and Conservatives asked for a report is because they had too, ( and that was despite conflicting information prior to the meeting), otherwise the lane would be gone. The report is an utter farce it makes no mention of that departments own survey last year or even pay any sort of recognition to the recent consultation (survey 68% against and consultation about 78% against). Don’t forget this lane is so popular and ‘successful’ that they have abandoned the extension and it’s not even mentioned now. Keep this temporary lane and the money will be irrelevant because you will set back active travel forever in the city when you can’t even own up to your mistakes.

    • A Holley Reply

      I agree with you. This is now as much about Democracy as underused, unpopular and unworkable initiatives. It frightening the UnGreen Administration can’t be voted out for another 2 years – plenty of time to do yet more damage to our City.

  4. Simon Forrest Reply

    Pretty appalling attempt to circumvent democracy by some unnamed officials working in cahoots with the Green Party. Why should these people remain anonymous? The whole thing has now descended into a dogmatic anti car feud. The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane is barely used and installing it has not increased cycling to any noticeable extent. It has inconvenienced many people trying to go about their business and increased journey times and pollution. The OSR is a difficult hilly cycle lane for most. Instead most cyclists choose to use the seafront cycle lane or like me use New Church Road. I would think at least 5 times as many cyclists use New Church Road without cycling infrastructure than use Old Shoreham Road with it.
    And finally to use the unproven argument that we “might” lose £280k of cycle training funding is nothing more than unsubstantiated conjecture. Even at the council’s overinflated £50k figure removal will cost 20p per person in Brighton and Hove. A price well worth paying.

    • Les Reply

      Totally agree with your comments. The Green Administration does not respect Democracy and seems to forget they were elected to fulfil the will of the majority. The detailed Questionnaire over 4000 of us took between 1-2 hrs to complete made those wishes clear and were quantifiable. So despite the rather biased form some of the questions took …. It was clear the OSR temp cycle lanes are a failure and the unintended consequences have made life worse. We ALL breathe air and it has increased air pollution – hardly improving public health.

  5. Nemisis Benn Reply

    Who should be in charge, the employees (aka monkeys) or the organ-grinders (aka elected councillors looking to be re-elected)?

  6. Richard Daughtrey Reply

    I would volunteer to remove these cycle lanes free of charge, by simple removing the signs and bollards from the road, the signage on the road will disappear in time.

    • Jon Holley Reply

      Very happy to help you ….and work for free, and find others to assist. It just needs doing NOW.

  7. Iain Chambers Reply

    I’ve driven around several parts of Brighton this week at various times of day including peak hours and sometimes on roads with temporary cycle lanes. I’ve found myself in congestion only a couple of times, and never for more than 30 seconds or so. Why is there so little congestion right now? Oh yes it’s August, schools are out and people are away. It’s like this every time school is out. It’s almost as if the congestion is caused by the city’s road network not being capable of coping with all the vehicles that we all try to squeeze on it.

    We’ve had congestion in Brighton all of the time I’ve lived here (over 30 years). People who object to changing the network to offer an alternative to driving in cars really do need to suggest how else to address the problem of congestion and how/where to implement these ideas.

    • A Holley Reply

      Yes the school,traffic makes a HUGE difference to the volume of cars on the road. Personally I and many others who are concerned about air pollution, feel parents should be encouraging their children to walk to school from an early age. We ALL need more exercise so it would help parents and children to be healthier, and get them used to walking. The pavements are quite safe and wide along the Old Shoreham Road – parents who don’t want their kids to walk alone can accompany them until the kids are sensible enough to walk with their friends. We see FAR more senior school kids walking in groups with friends than cycling alone. This Money was given to promote ACTIVE travel – Walking and Cycling ….not just cycling! Even more annoyingly kids and some adults can’t be bothered to use the cycle lane between Sackville Rd and Hangleton R’s ….they use the pavement.

  8. Catherine Reply

    We need more cycle lanes to encourage exercise and mindfulness and to get your folk down to the sea.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Or equally just go for a walk – perhaps in a local park, or drive to somewhere further and do the same and explore new places. Why do we have to go to the sea?

  9. Nick Reply

    So to add to the council’s mistakes we now have financial mismanagement. This report alledges that budgets haven’t been allocated for the removal of the lane. Why not? It was always experimental, so there was always a chance would be removed. Not budgeting for this is incompetence at best, misconduct at worst. What action will be taken against those making such basic errors?

    Also, the risk of losing funding for further OSR cycle lane work is being raised. Yes, again there doesn’t seem to have been any planning or foresight. Now that the main scheme is to be removed (as people have requested for over a year) there seems to be no “plan B”. It’s as if all these calls were ignored and the council staff and councillors thought that this would never happen and a failing experiment would continue! Why didn’t they start the design work and consultations for a “plan b”? It seems such an obvious thing to do, especially as there was a years worth of evidence that plan A wasn’t working!

    Hopefully, someone from the council will be retrained/disciplined for such obvious errors and the money this will cost the city. I doubt it!

  10. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It is Labour’s cllr Wilkinson who brought about this attempt to rip up the bicycling lane, something which has landed the authority in it. Will cllr Wilkinson now, er, fall on his Sword?

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Nice try Chris 🙄

      I think you’ll find this all started with the Green-Labour coalition, where cycling obsessed Councillor Pete West and anti-motorist Sustrans convinced then ETS chair Councillor Anne Pissaridou to implement the badly planed and dangerous cycle lane extension without consulting anyone in the affected wards, over the VE holiday weekend. Since then the lack of usage of the lanes together with the delays, congestion, and increased emissions there, and in surrounding areas, has been intentionally ignored by councillors as consultations and ePetitions have bene manipulated by pro-cycling groups across the UK and beyond.

      It now appears this non-democratic coalition is dead (we lost an open opposition party) and Labour realised they had been duped by the Greens into implementing this failure, the Madeira Drive closure and subsequent reinstatement of access for cars, the A259 cycle lanes from the Aquarium which caused gridlock for buses.

      Let us also not forget the infamous “Pesticide Ban” instigated by Councillor Tom Druitt that only applied to the use of one herbicide by council staff and was supposed to reduce sprayings to once per year. Again without consulting the ETS committee or councillors spraying was stopped by Councillor Anne Pissaridou, without having found a practical alternative, leading to the uncontrolled growth of weeds across the city, creating trip hazards and the elderly being admitted to the RSCH.

      Thankfully Labour and particularly Councillor Gary Wilkinson have come to their senses and now seem to be listening to the residents that elected them, rather than the Greens you listen to no one but themselves and fellow activists, and treat those that disagree with them with utter contempt.

      So if anything, we should all be grateful for what Labour has done, and it is most gratifying to see loathsome Green Party and pro-cycling activists desperately trying to bully and discredit parties that understand and accept the meaning of democracy.

      • Tony Harper Reply

        Unacceptable behaviour from council officers in cahoots with the Greens. BHCC should be put into special measures.

  11. Robbo Reply

    A pity that the Green Party Councillors have been opposed Park and Ride schemes since the 1990’s. They have made the situation worse in this City. As the “Green” Party Councillor on the Environment Committee recently said “My Party is opposed to park and ride”!

  12. Dave Reply

    To any green councillors reading: It’s been long enough and had enough press and yet people still don’t use it. I sat in a traffic jam for 10 mins by Hove Park in the middle of the day, 0 cyclists went past.

    You are going on about it costing mone to take it up, shouldn’t have wasted the grants in the first place then, why didn’t they use the money to put normal bike lanes in places where they were needed, goes to show you these green councillors obviously don’t use bikes themselves. The majority of Brighton and Hove wants them gone, that’s democracy you lost the argument. Get over it and sort out the recycling, lol can’t even put old charger cables in the recycling… 2021 and we don’t recycle metal, no I’m meant to drive to the tip… Dumbbb

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