OPINION

The need for safety is being ignored

Posted On 16 Aug 2021 at 6:56 pm

You know that feeling when people are talking about you but won’t talk to you? This is what it’s like for many of the people who cycle around Brighton and Hove.

Bricycles represents everyone who cycles in our city – and the thousands more who would like to cycle but don’t as they don’t feel safe on our roads.

For the last year, we’ve been telling councillors how much safety for cycling needs to improve. The government is aware of this and has radically overhauled its cycling policy, aiming to make cycling and walking the natural choice for short journeys.

We know that most councillors haven’t read this policy, despite us repeatedly shoving it under their noses. They also haven’t read the design guidelines, which set minimum widths for cycle lanes and say what kind of road needs them.

It’s not just about cycle lanes. It’s about speed limits, poorly designed parking bays that force cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic and roads that are just the right width to encourage close passes. It’s about the lack of safe cycle storage. These are all factors that discourage people from cycling.

No councillor who has read and understood national cycling policy and design guidelines would be calling for the lanes on the Old Shoreham Road to be ripped out.

The policy says that cycle routes should be direct, should go where people want to go and should be on space reallocated from motor vehicles if necessary.

The Old Shoreham Road is an essential route for cycling for the same reasons that it’s essential for driving and this is why it’s part of the draft Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan.

Not only have councillors not read this policy, but they’re ignoring the advice of transport engineers and planners at the council.

They have ignored government guidelines that a consultation should not be used as a referendum and ignored transport minister Chris Heaton’s warning that if schemes are removed without evidence of detrimental effect, there will be a price to pay.

Because they haven’t supplied evidence that the lanes are detrimental, the city is now paying this price in the loss of the £273,000 Capability Fund. We’ll be paying £50,000 to remove the lanes and further funding is in jeopardy.

Councillors have ignored members of the public, who have written to say how important these cycle lanes are for them to travel safely to work, school, college and leisure activities.

Instead, they decided that the negative opinion of 4,000 people was more important. These 3,000 people represent just over 1 per cent of the city’s population. A referendum on this basis would not be valid.

The idea that a pressure group can veto a safety feature is unique to cycling infrastructure. We do not hold a referendum to see whether people like the idea of a wheelchair ramp on a public building or remove the ramp if we decide not enough people are using it. We do not remove handrails on stairs if people complain about them.

Councillors have recently issued statements about “working together”. For this to happen, they need to start taking cycling seriously. They need to start involving people who cycle in decisions about cycling infrastructure and, as a bare minimum, to learn about national cycling policy and infrastructure design.

They need to stop using cycling safety as a political football. They need to stop playing with people’s lives.

Chris Williams chairs Bricycles – the Brighton and Hove Cycling Campaign.

  1. Joan Dryer Reply

    Finally someone talking a bit of sense. Cycle lanes are all about safety, but they’ve been turned into a political game.

    Shame on those councillors that are treating them that way. Let’s not hope we have to wait for a kiddie to die on a bike for these councillors to wake up.

    • Vman Reply

      Your All Using Safty as your Get away pherrrr what a joke…Do you live near these monstrosity nightmares of lanes…causing cue after cue after cue…BECAUSE OF THESE SICK IDEAR LANES…We Can Taste the fuel..or the Extra heat from busses lorries cars…All because it’s narrowed down to one Stupid lane and held up by traffic lights….OHHHHH YEAH YOUR Soooooo clever keeping them aye…cussing More cancers More Asthma attacks ect ect… You make me sick
      Get Rid off em NOW

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    Blimey happy to accept the WSCC consultation but not the Brighton one? Bricycles do not represent all cyclists 8n Brighton the FB page has 600 members and I know many cyclists including myself that want nothing to do with them. We have had a democratic decision, we get you don’t like it Chris but now is the time to stop.

    • Samantha Reply

      That was not democratic.

      If you hold a referendum on a cycle lane that takes space from motor vehicles and reallocates it to cycling, the majority of people will say no. This has been happening for generations. This is why we have such low cycling numbers in the UK.

      The main difference with the WSCC is that it didn’t advocate taking away space from motor vehicles.

      A referendum was not part of the decision-making process. BHCC have used the results of a consultation retrospectively as a referendum.

      • Nathan Adler Reply

        It was democratic. Our democratically elected councillors voted to remove, weighing up evidence from the consultation. Democracy at work or are you one these that perscribes to the idea we will stick it in consult with no one, ignore everyone because we know best?

        • M Chamberlain Reply

          Problem is they did not weigh up the evidence, they counted the number of negative votes and decided to treat it as a referendum, which it was not designed to be.

          Major decisions on roads and transport impacting on people’s lives now and in the future must be based on sound, objective evidence, not negative opinion.

          • Jon

            You will find in the comments on the Questionnaire many have solid reasons against the cycle lanes. But the bottom line is very few cyclists have used it …15 months is long enough for a trial especially as during the first lockdowns few were using cars. It is insisted in the wrong place. Cyclists use New Chirch Road, the seafront or Portland Road.
            Cycle numbers are now far LESS than before the cycle lanes on the OSR Sackville to Hangleton Road. The statistics prove the point.

    • Jon Reply

      Thank you Nathan for making the point Bricycles do NOT represent all cyclists like me. Most cyclists are also car drivers and appreciate both views. This article says cycle lanes should be where cyclists want them …..and after 15 months the ‘Temporary’ lanes on the OSR which have caused chaos between Sackville /Neville and Hangleton Road has barely been used by cyclists ….it is NOT where THEY want to travel! Even the Chair of the Environment Transport & Sustainability committee has admitted that the cycle numbers have DROPPED hugely. Meanwhile it’s caused unnecessary queues and poisoned the air. We ALL breathe that air and it is NOT healthy ….. and this whole thing is meant to improve public health. How UN-Green can you be? The Questionnaire results were conclusive and the Councillors who do their job properly have done what Residents want – voted to remove the cycle lanes. That was weeks ago and guess what …..still there. NOTHING has been done to promote walking which the Active Travel Grant from Government was for – WHY NOT??

  3. Nick Reply

    Chris Williams is lying. He claims that Bricycles represents me and everyone else who cycles in the city. That just is not true. He certainly hasn’t asked for my views – so how is he representing me?

    This is just another of his unfathomable claims which put cycling above walking, buses, cars, trains and every other means of transport. Why should cycling take priority? Walking to work dwarfs cycling (according to local census data) so why limit this?

    Why does every route have to become a cycle route in Chris’s mind? The most direct route to Brighton station for me is along the train line (unsurprisingly!). Is his plan to close one of the tracks to let us cycle along this too?

    Personally, I prefer to cycle along quieter roads rather than main A-roads. All routes (roads, pavements, bus routes, trains etc) curve and twist around natural obstacles, buildings, other networks and so on. But apparently, cycle networks shouldn’t?!

    The mess of the OSR and all the money that has been wasted lies at the hands of these zealots. There were so many other better options for cycle routes. Yet the councillors were persuaded to chose unsuitable/unsafe routes (OSR) and duplicate routes (seafront). We could have had many other additions to the cycle network which the council’s consultants identified. These better options would likely still be here – and stayed for generations

    As Chris quotes himself cycle routes “should go where people want to go”. Well, cyclists didn’t want to go along the OSR. The usage figures show this. So why ignore how people voted with their pedals?

    The thinking behind this article has failed cyclists across the city. Bricycles should stop blaming others. They need to listen. Stop claiming (unbelievably) that they are speaking for everyone and reflect. Then move forward on forming a true cycling network across the city – this time listening and helping to develop solutions which can help all residents

    • Julie Reply

      Chris Williams quotes:’Councillors have ignored members of the public, who have written to say how important these cycle lanes are for them to travel safely to work, school, college and leisure activities.

      Instead, they decided that the negative opinion of 4,000 people was more important.These 4,000 people represent just over 1 per cent of the city’s population.’

      It’s interesting that he doesn’t provide a figure for the number of people who say the cycle lanes are important to them. Could this be because the figure is far lower than the 4,000 people who don’t support the OSR cycle lane? The result of the belated consultation on the temporary OSR cycle lane consultation would certainly support this interpretation.

      Chris Williams would much prefer Councillors to ignore the views of the majority of people who responded to the consultation because he personally disagrees with their views. If other residents have strong views in favour of the cycle lanes, why didn’t they complete the consultation which was open to all the city’s residents?

      The figures for use of the OSR cycle lanes are very poor in comparison to the figures for the other cycle lanes. It is obvious that most cyclists are voting with their wheels and using other East West roads which are not main arterial routes and so are quieter and more pleasant to cycle on.

      The usage figures and the results of the consultation are clear – usage is low and has not increased over the 15 months the OSR cycle lanes have been in situ, and residents are not in favour of keeping the OSR cycle lanes.

    • Derek Gregory Reply

      I also prefer quieter roads unfortunately I have 2 roads I can take to get to work old shoreham rd or the one that runs below with all the busses on no way I’m using that road

    • Nathan Adler Reply

      You’re right. It’s all lies. Most people would rather run the risk of being knocked down by a car on a dual carriageway than cycle a couple of metres away from traffic.

  4. Paul Temple Reply

    This from the bloke who fixed a petition and tried to fix the survey, (and was exposed in this very paper). He has some cheek moaning about a consultation, (with one of the largest responses ever) and then a democratic vote.

    • M Reply

      Consultation response was actually 3168 responses for Old Shoreham Road not 4000 but correct is less than 1% of the population. The population of North Portslade, Hangleton and Knoll and Hove Park alone is 35,000 ( all north side). This is a very small response, online surveys in general get a poor response compared with traditional consultations.

      • Sarah Howard Reply

        And yet it was one of the largest responses BHCC council had ever had. It also was not just online, you could do it by phone or request a paper one, (with pre paid envelope). Moaning about a consultation because you don’t like the results does no one any favours. Those that did it took the time and effort to fill in a very convoluted consultation, those that didn’t bother obviously do jot care one way or the other.

        • Nick Reply

          The point is that it was a consultation, not a referendum.

  5. Jojo Goldsmith Reply

    I have never spoken with Mr Williams or anyone from Bricycles, they have never asked my opinion as someone who doesn’t drive and cycles, walks or uses buses. I’m sorry Mr Williams you do not represent me and I resent the implication that you do. It’s about time Brighton and Hove News stopped giving this person a mouthpiece.

  6. Hove Guy Reply

    Yawn! Yawn! He complains that the policy says that cycle routes should be direct, should go where people want to go and should be on space reallocated from motor vehicles if necessary.

    Except for the fact that people clearly don’t want to go on the space reallocated on Old Shoreham Road, so he clearly does not know what he is talking about.

  7. Adrian Reply

    Excellent article. The lane is well used and usage seems to be increasing even before the restart for schools. Good points about the safety considerations which have been ignored by those opposing the lanes. If there are problems then tweak the lanes; don’t throw the whole thing away and risk the lives and health of those trying to reduce carbon and toxic emissions whilst trying to keep fit and healthy.

  8. Andy Reply

    He doesnt speak for me.

  9. James Reply

    Excellent point about how some Brighton residents see cycling safety as somehow optional. I’d invite those residents to remove the airbags from their cars.

    • P Reply

      He does not represent me. How dare he claim he does. I find his views extreme.

      • James Reply

        Wanting safer cycling infrastructure is extreme? Please explain.

  10. M Chamberlain Reply

    Safety does seem to have been completely ignored in this decision and it should be the most important consideration. The majority of cyclists using this lane feel safe on it, more than the other schemes but this counts for nothing. Families, children, women, disabled cyclists all need to feel safe to cycle and unfortunately road cycling in this city is far from safe.
    Safety for pedestrians, residents and children walking to school has also improved with the lanes, slower speeds, less reckless driving etc. It will return to the dangerous route it was before

  11. Ren Reply

    The Old Shoreham Road cycle and the ‘duplicate’ lane on the seafront are a waste of money and have set back the cause of cycling and safe active travel networks. I cycle almost every day and not only do I not use it, but neither do any of my cycling friends. Bricycles, I assure you, does NOT speak for me, and to state that they do is the most breathtaking arrogance. All I sense is a contempt for local democracy, for those with a different viewpoint and anyone not fit and healthy and with enough time to cycle.

  12. Mikey Reply

    ‘The lane is well used’, well that is rose tinted glasses. OSR was a disaster from day one

  13. Mike Beasley Reply

    Chris. This is a victory for democracy. You are your lying, deceitful Green mates got found out. Put it down to Karma.

  14. Darren Taylor Reply

    ”We do not hold a referendum to see whether people like the idea of a wheelchair ramp on a public building or remove the ramp if we decide not enough people are using it”.

    Once again disabled groups are leveraged when it suits certain pressure groups. A wheelchair ramp provides LEGAL access to those with mobility difficulties. People can cycle on the OSR without a cycle lane, as they have for decades. More cycle lanes are coming but it will be impossible to put on many roads, so everyone will need to cycle on a road without one and we will need to share roads responsibly.

    • Barbie Sprode Reply

      Share responsibily? You’ve obviously never cycled along a dual carriageway with cars overtaking you just inches away.

      You can be as responsible as you like on a bike, but you have no power over how close other vehicles get to you when they overtake. The only thing that will keep them at distance is physical separation.

  15. Andrew Peters Reply

    Misrepresentation by Mr Chris WIlliams ‘ Bricycles tinyurl.com/bricycles

  16. Derek Gregory Reply

    I cycle that route every day and the cycle lane really made a difference but hey if they choose to remove it I shall cycle in accordance with the Highway Code which clearly says that I shouldn’t cycle in the gutter so I’ll continue in that lane as if it was a cycle lane

  17. Chris Reply

    Blimey, if all these people who claim to cycle actually cycled the roads would be swamped with bikes. As for sharing the roads responsibly, who’s onus is it to do that? Given that most adults (and 71% of women) feel our roads are too dangerous to cycle on how do we address that without decent cycle facilities?

  18. Sam Reply

    The headline says the need for safety is being ignored, but actually it’s democracy that’s being ignored, not safety. The only accident I’ve read about involving a cyclist on the Old SHoreham Road was after the cycle lanes were put in, when a Councillor said she came off her bike by a petrol station.
    A pedestrian was killed by a speeding driver who was high on drugs a few years ago, and he was sent to prison for his crime.
    It was a perfectly safe road before (even despite the odd boy racer). Few people cycled along that route then and few people cycle along it now. Every genuine cyclist knows it’s nothing to do with safety and all about the gradients. And as one of them, I would add my voice to those who say that the author and Bricycles do not speak for me.

    • James Reply

      Since 2018 there have been a total of 10 serious incidents involving cyclists on Old Shoreham Road: https://ssrp.shinyapps.io/dataportal/ -> Priority Groups -> Pedal Cycles

  19. Nathan Adler Reply

    Crashmap data shows 4 slight incidents and NO serious incidents along the stretch of the OSR temporary cycle lane. Even using your data Portland Road, Elm Grove, Church Road, Western Road, Cromwell Road etc have far more incidents than OSR.

  20. Bear Road resident Reply

    Why does this person, like many of the Lycra brigade, think that cycling is the only desirable method of none car transport. He could try walking like many people have to do (far more than cycle!) and find out how difficult life is for pedestrians in Brighton. He could experience at first hand all the cyclists and e-scooters whizzing along the cracked and broken pavements; abandoned bikes strewn about the pavements or chained to street furniture and the ridiculous joint use sections of pavement which cyclists take to mean they have priority over us poor foot-sloggers.
    And as for his vainglorious claim to speak for all cyclists and none-cyclists – perhaps he could supply us with some figures to prove it…

  21. Bear Road resident Reply

    Why does this person, like many of the Lycra brigade, think that only cycling is the desirable method of none car transport. He could try walking like many people have to do (far more than cycle!) and find out how difficult life is for pedestrians in Brighton. He could experience at first hand all the cyclists and e-scooters whizzing along the cracked and broken pavements; abandoned bikes strewn about the pavements or chained to street furniture and the ridiculous joint use sections of pavement which cyclists take to mean they have priority over us poor foot-sloggers.
    And as for his vainglorious claim to speak for all cyclists and none-cyclists – perhaps he could supply us with some figures to prove it…

    • G Reply

      I mostly walk, and sometimes ride my bike. The most danger I’ve experienced is on the seafront, trying to cross the cycle lane. Drivers tend to stop. Too many cyclists seem to think they have right of way in every situation.
      Also, I’m glad I wasn’t waiting for the ambulance, or had a time-sensitive need of reaching the hospital, as it struggled along the seafront this afternoon. Cars tried to pull over, but with those cycle lane markers, it’s not possible for lots of drivers. I can only imagine what this has done to response times.

  22. Greens Out Reply

    That lunatic certainly does not represent me as someone who uses their bike in town.

    Never has done. Never will do.

  23. Leggie Reply

    I’m a cyclist and he doesn;t represent me either

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