Hailsham, Polegate & Eastbourne Movement Access Corridor plans – Bespoke’s response

Bespoke welcomes East Sussex County Council’s plans for the Hailsham, Polegate & Eastbourne Movement Access Corridor. We absolutely support the aim of creating a “step change” in the use of sustainable transport in this increasingly congested area. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. In places, we are concerned that the design of the proposed cycle and pedestrian infrastructure is not of a sufficiently high quality to tempt people out of their cars and bring about a real change.

Shared space

While we are delighted that the cyclists will no longer have to share the busy A2270 with cars, trucks and buses moving at 40mph – “protected” by a painted line – we are not convinced that sharing the pavements with pedestrians is the best solution. Shared space can work in rural settings such as the Cuckoo Trail, where the path is fairly wide and volumes of cyclists and pedestrians are relatively low. However, in more urban settings dedicated cycle lanes would be much better and more likely to deliver the required “step change” to sustainable transport. This reflects the latest guidance in cycle infrastructure design and evidence from other towns and cities where a far higher proportion of short trips are walked or cycled than in Eastbourne.

Continuity issues

We are concerned about the stop-start nature of the proposed shared path – in places such as by the Tesco garage in Polegate it just stops and throws you out onto the road. The shared path would be more useful and coherent if it continued on the western side of Eastbourne Road from the junction with Coopers Hill to at least the turnoff for The Triangle. This would provide a safe route to the area’s shops and schools as well as to Wannock and Jevington via Gorringe Valley Road.

Verges and greenery

Grass verges are an attractive feature of the landscape in Eastbourne and we sympathize with residents who are concerned about them being “concreted over”, particularly on Willingdon Road between the junctions with Victoria Drive and Wish Hill. A hedge, for example, would be a much greener and more attractive option than the proposed 1960s-era railings. Would it not be possible to build a segregated two-way cycle lane on the road instead? We notice there is a wide, unused hatched area in the centre of the road.

Priority for pedestrians and cyclists

As vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists are supposed to be at the top of what transport planners call the “hierarchy of users”. But in these plans they sometimes remain marginalised. The proposed Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) at Polegate, for example, are not accompanied with the feeder lanes that are required for cyclists to safely get to them. Cyclists and pedestrians should also have priority over side roads such as Garrett Drive and Ratton Drive, like this example in The Netherlands:

Or closer to home, in Brighton:

Furthermore, bus lanes are not cycling infrastructure. While the bus lane on Victoria Drive between Ocklynge and Ratton schools is a good idea, it is unrealistic to expect school children to cycle on it.

20s Plenty

We are huge fans of the 20s Plenty campaign for residential roads. For some reason this has not been widely adopted in Eastbourne, but we would urge a 20mph limit to be considered for Coopers Hill and Wish Hill in Willingdon Village as part of the Movement Access Corridor.

About Bespoke

Founded in 2008, Bespoke is a group of volunteers who meet in Eastbourne every month and try to help make it safer and easier for anyone to get around town by bicycle. We think cycling is a convenient, fun and low-cost solution to the growing obesity and inactivity crisis that is threatening to overwhelm the NHS. And that riding bikes around towns is an obvious way of tackling the alarming issue of air pollution that is estimated to cause 40,000 premature deaths in Britain every year – Eastbourne has been identified as a blackspot. More than half of all car trips in Britain are less than five miles, which can easily be achieved on an ordinary bicycle in normal clothes. But most people will only do so when it is safe – preferably separated from heavy traffic.