On Wednesday 22nd July, Eastbourne Borough Council voted to amend their seafront byelaws. The change was to provide a future “designated route” for cyclists on the promenade. The amendment passed with 15 votes in favour.
Two members of the public addressed the council supporting the amendment. Steve Kittoe – who runs local bicycle company Let’s Bike, and Felicity Goodson – co-chair of Bespoke.
Steve Kittoe spoke about the difficulties his customers have cycling in Eastbourne. Tourists hiring bikes ask why there is no joined up cycle path on the seafront. Mr Kittoe also highlighted the difficulties of cycling with his young grandson.
Felicity Goodson gave a passionate speech, and reminded the council of particulate pollution. If more people cycle, there will be a reduction in pollution. This kills and causes many health problems across the country. Mrs Goodson also pointed out she wasn’t a MAMIL. She is a mum who cycles around Eastbourne with her children, and a dog in a basket.
Councillors then took the opportunity to speak.
Councillor Blakeborough spoke against the amendment. He told an anecdote of a walk he and Councillor Jenkins took on the seafront earlier in the day. Two cyclists rode in a forbidden area and didn’t hit anyone. They called to the cyclists to stop, but were told to go away. Councillor Blakeborough suggested fixed penalty enforcement and CCTV to stop cyclists. He was also concerned for blind pedestrians walking along the promenade.
Councillor Freebody spoke next. As a regular sports cyclist, he highlighted the use of the Strava app. Strava users compete to be the fastest riders on certain stretches of road. He was concerned that cyclists could use this and compete to be the fastest rider on the prom.
Councillor Rodohan asked that the council support the amendment. This gives ESCC the opportunity to develop a path that works for everyone.
Next to speak was Councillor Jenkins. He repeated the anecdote of his walk with Councillor Blakeborough earlier in the day. He suggested deferring any decision until Eastbourne’s seafront strategy is complete.
Meads Councillor Barry Taylor asked the council to “Stop it now”. Cyclists were extremely rude in his opinion. He stopped the previous cycle route between the Healy Shelter and Fishermans Green. It would be a mistake to reintroduce it. He suggested cyclists use Wartling Road and Latimer Road instead.
Councillor Tutt pointed out that all people can be inconsiderate at times, not just cyclists. The current byelaw isn’t preventing all bad behaviour. The experts at the County Council want to provide a safe scheme. They should be allowed to do this.
New councillor Robert Smart pointed out that most of the prom was in Meads. The Meads Community Association want the byelaw kept in place. He believes that cycling on the prom is not essential.
Councillor Wallis pointed out that disability groups were consulted on the plans. The accident statistics for cyclists in Eastbourne are worryingly high. We are also a fat town, and we need to encourage exercise like cycling. He urged everyone to be tolerant.
A named vote was requested by Councillor Taylor. Councillor Tutt supported this. The vote split along party lines. The Conservatives voted against, the Liberal Democrats voted in favour, and the Mayor abstained. The motion passed with 15 votes in favour.
After the meeting Bespoke spoke with an upset member of the public. She was concerned the seafront was going to be destroyed by cyclists. She owns a beach hut in Meads and didn’t want cyclists riding there. We pointed out the proposal isn’t for cycling on the prom in Meads. It is for a path between the Wish Tower and Fishermans Green. She had been told otherwise, and urged us to get the correct message out.