Bespoke has always aimed to promote safe cycling and cycle facilities, particularly for those who don’t currently cycle. It is a great pity that the fear of injury from traffic discourages MOST people from cycling. The majority of Eastbourne residents do not get enough brisk exercise which has been proven to reduce the risk of diabetes, depression, dementia, heart disease and breast cancer by around 30% each (if exercising regularly for 30 minutes in total per day). Bespoke supports cycling, walking and any form of exercise that leads to better health.
We all suffer from increased traffic congestion and pollution and the costs of long-term care related to other people using their cars. Bespoke has consulted with many individuals and groups across Eastbourne’s diverse spectrum of people. Bespoke has reflected after meeting the Blind society and other disability groups. We have visited other British and European towns where cycling is seen as normal.
For the record, we never sought to get the harbour paths re-classified. We voluntarily withdrew maps in which we had incorrectly shown some sections as allowing cycling; this has been rectified now that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) has issued guidance.
We have never wanted to fall into conflict with pedestrians. We encourage all people cycling to stop at red lights, to be visible and to be considerate. Everyone would benefit from better cycle lanes. In some cases, it may be better to have segregation. (Children and inexperienced cyclists cannot safely use many roads; solutions have to be found for them as well as the more experienced cyclists.) In many places shared use should not cause difficulties. In some places we would not object to signs, such as one in London’s King’s Cross: “Pedestrian priority, considerate cyclists welcome”. We also realise that strategically placed speed limits and/or physical calming can work well to reduce the speeds that cause danger (applied differently for cars and for bikes). Planners are aware that other solutions apart from cars need to be found as space in Eastbourne’s roads is limited.
We are looking to the future: people of all ages need to feel safe cycling from one place to another. We sense that most residents of Eastbourne would like less traffic. We have more “top ten tips for safe cycling” on our website at: www.bespokecyclegroup.org. We also have “safety tips for motorists around bikes” which are predominantly extracts from the Highway code: please give each cyclist space and time, respect each one as a road user. What works elsewhere is mutual respect and visibility.
What we cannot do is nothing: everyone’s health and finances suffer with increasing car use. It is not sustainable to increase road traffic without congestion; cycling to work and school would improve everyone’s health and finances. We hope that those who see great differences between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians can focus on the possibilities for people to try different modes and can work with us to share this lovely town, for the future.
Scarlett McNally, Chair Bespoke