In February, Bespoke sent an open letter to Cllr Carl Maynard with our concerns on the walking and cycling strategy in East Sussex.
All the cycle groups in East Sussex have since met and sent the following joint reply to Cllr Maynard.
Cycle East Sussex Open Letter
Dear Councillor Maynard
Thank you for your reply of March 23rd, in response to my original letter from Bespoke, concerning the Walking and Cycling Strategy.
Cycle East Sussex (CES) met recently and discussed your comments and felt that a short reply would clarify our position. This is to demonstrate to you, that the views of Bespoke are also held by other cycling groups, in the county.
All the groups in CES are strongly of the opinion that any Walking and Cycling strategy should be based around the Department for Transport( DfT) vision of a doubling of cycling numbers. This would be in line with many of the Councils that are showing real improvements. By stating this, as even aspirational, it focuses any plans on the delivery of increased numbers. It also provides other departments, within ESCC, with a clear focus to make their own changes to promote “active travel”.
You mention, in your letter, some of the new schemes that have been built across the county. Some have been excellent and are welcomed. However there is still a lack of confidence in the design and implementation of others. There is a general view that your design consultants still favour routes that are not direct and are often, as you concede, not to the DfT minimum standards. Sub standard routes will not be used and will be used as propaganda by our critics. A cheap scheme that is not used is poor value for money.
We would take issue with ESCC’s criticism of the Active People’s Survey. This methodology remains the approved DfT and Government approach. You are being advised that the methodology is flawed and the sample size is small. This is not the case. It does in fact have a sample of over 160,000 residents across England with around 500 from each District / Borough Council. However the methodology for counting cyclists, used by ESCC, is based on favoured pre-selected sites which may show a growth in numbers. However logically there might be no overall increase and these are people displaced from other routes. Our confidence remains with the DfT statistics, which shows no growth in East Sussex.
One of the reasons for writing is that, with the huge numbers of housing developments, action needs to be taken now. This is covered in my original letter to you. As you will be aware South Wealden faces the largest proportional increase. Schemes that are being proposed still show “obesegenic” designs that are based around the car and do nothing to support “active travel”. Now is the time to ensure that these estates reflect modern guidance. The monies raised from CIL and S106 will be significant and we need to specify interlinked green corridors. There is a legal requirement to provide a transport infrastructure which is inclusive of the needs of all. Unless developers are given such guidance the status quo will continue.
We remain committed to cycling within the county. However we reiterate this can only be achieved with a strong Walking and Cycling strategy, that has clear deliverables, that assist more people with “active travel”.
I hope you find this helpful
Cycle East Sussex and Bespoke