Once again, the news on the seafront front is that there isn’t any. So, as we’re approaching the end of the year, I will try to summarise the story so far: more than two years ago Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) organised a public consultation on six proposed cycle routes around the town, which included a crucial safe seafront route, and amending the byelaw that prohibits cycling on part of the promenade (Wish Tower to Fisherman’s Green). Around 73% of respondents were in favour of the change – and the consultation attracted an unusually high number of participants.
In May 2014 an overwhelming majority of borough councillors voted in favour of amending the prom byelaw, after which the matter was referred to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London. Eventually, in April 2015, they agreed. It was passed back to EBC, who duly voted to “seal the byelaw” and posted notifications of the proposed change for six weeks. Responses to this went to the DCLG, where they were evaluated for three months. The process somehow dredged up several more questions for EBC. Satisfactory answers to these might mean a green light in the new year. But then again, it might not!
And all this to change a few words in a byelaw. It hardly inspires confidence in building good cycle infrastructure – or any infrastructure – anytime soon. Indeed, useless bike lanes, barely 70cm wide, have appeared at a brand new housing development in West Sussex. Which reminds me of a classic line from Enrique Penalosa: We cannot continue to deceive ourselves thinking that to paint a little line on a road is a bike way. A bicycle way that is not safe for an 8-year old is not a bicycle way.
But at least there are signs of progress further afield – Camden Council has tripled cyclists’ share of some roads and cut the motor vehicle portion in half. And Leicester, unlikely leader of the Premiership football table at Christmas, turns out to be a surprise poster city for cycling.
Coastal Culture Trail
Next year we will continue to work with fellow campaigners Bexhill Wheelers and Hastings Urban Bikes to promote cycling as a great way to travel between our towns. As we pointed out on our mass ride last summer, there are several infrastructure issues for East Sussex County Council to deal with to make the coastal route between Eastbourne and Bexhill genuinely safe and family-friendly. We were dismayed that there was no mention of the route in the council’s draft Local Transport Plan 2016–2021. Ray, of Bexhill’s Classic Cycle Group, has led a campaign for it to be included. The consultation period ended on 21st December but it is well worth putting your thoughts on a quick e-mail to Lisa.Simmonds@eastsussex.gov.uk.
We’re intending to make an illustrated map showing the quietest and most scenic routes, and we’re planning a guided Pier to Pier ride (Eastbourne to Hastings) leaving from Eastbourne Pier at 10.30am on Saturday 19th March to coincide with the re-opening of Hastings pier. Fire-damaged South Coast piers rise phoenix-like etc. See you there!
In 2016 we will be changing the venue for our monthly meetings to the Da Vinci Hotel, Howard Square, Eastbourne BN21 4BQ on the third Wednesday of each month – starting on 20th January at 7.30pm. Do come along – we really need fresh ideas for events, activities and rides.
Safe winter cycling, and Merry Christmas!