International Bike Week ends today (Sunday 12 June), providing a chance to draw attention to the benefits of using cycles – a simple, affordable, clean and environmentally friendly means of transportation.
As Greens, we are unapologetic in our support for encouraging safe and sustainable cycle use in Brighton and Hove.
Although the week celebrates bicycles – it is important to stress that there are many types of cycle. They don’t just come on two wheels. Hand cycles and tricycles, for example, can make cycling easier and more accessible for everyone.
That comes with the need to introduce “infrastructure” to make it safer too, which is why government guidance says that any new cycle lanes should be at least two metres wide.
Why cycle? Cycling offers an enjoyable, sustainable, free and accessible option for people to travel. Transport produced 27 per cent of the UK’s total emissions in 2019, so encouraging people to use a sustainable and green transport system is essential if we are to hit our climate targets.
Research placed North Street as the third worst for air pollution in the country. When evidence already tells us air pollution knocks almost three years off average life expectancy, this must be a call to action.
It’s for this reason that we are taking bold steps to encourage greater uses of cycles in this city, alongside initiatives like our updated air quality action plan (which is currently out for consultation).
Let’s not forget how cycling can improve health too: reducing the chance of heart disease, cancer, stress related illness and improved mobility and strength.
And there’s more to come in Brighton and Hove. Cycling is an enjoyable environmentally friendly way to travel and see our city.
We will continue to promote the use of cycles and are determined to make cycling more accessible through better infrastructure, secure cycle hangers and electric cycles.
In the last month, the council received news that we will be given have further funding to build a new cycle lane along Marine Parade.
This is a key route linking eastern areas of Brighton and Hove with the city centre and which will join up to the fantastic phase 3 of the Valley Gardens project, on which construction will start in the coming months.
In the same week, we also received news that we’ve been funded for a study into the feasibility of a Mini-Holland in the Wish and Westbourne areas of the city.
This could link up to railway stations (Aldrington and Portslade), bus routes, the seafront and employment areas including Shoreham Harbour.
This isn’t everything. In the next year, the very popular BTN Bike Share will be increasing its current fleet of bikes from 600 to 780, of which at least 60 per cent will be electric. The first cycle hangars will also be hitting the streets in the coming weeks.
We are also enabling businesses to play their part in reducing emissions and have supported SMEs in our city to invest in e-cargo deliveries, resulting in over seven metric tonnes of CO2 being saved as a result of a 20,000 miles being cycled rather than driven.
There is still so much more that can be done. We will always be critical where the Tory government fails to act.
There is simply no room for a £27 billion road building programme in a climate emergency. It is inexcusable that this Conservative government wants to pave the way for more cars on the road, with more climate emissions, more congestion and more pollution, making life worse for communities across the country and hear in Brighton and Hove.
We will also continue to advocate for greater infrastructure for bikes, handcycles, tricycles and anything with wheels. Through the actions we have already achieved and the plans that we have in place we are enabling even more of Brighton’s residents and visitors to cycle.
Come rain or shine, and it looks like a lot of rain, I will be out celebrating bike week and I hope to see you out there too.
Steve Davis is a Green councillor and the joint chair of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
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