Last Sunday around 200 people gathered with bikes and banners on the freshly landscaped, car-free piazza by the Congress Theatre and Towner Art Gallery. Stephen Lloyd MP and Mayor Steve Wallis were there to give their support – yet again – for a safe, traffic-free cycleway along Eastbourne’s seafront.
The Mayor joined the march along the prom as our MP took to the road on an electric-assist bike, along with children, senior citizens and disabled people on recumbents. There were dogs in baskets, babes on child seats or doubled up in trailers, friends, and families, all fed-up with waiting for action on this practical solution to improving health and wellbeing, averting climate breakdown and making our town a cleaner, greener and even nicer place to be.
Stephen Lloyd was particularly concerned that Eastbourne is now one of the only seaside towns without a family-friendly, traffic-free cycleway along its seafront. Evidence from seaside towns that allow cycling on their promenades, be it Hastings, Bexhill, Seaford, Brighton, Worthing or Littlehampton, show that the fears of some are unfounded.
Most seafronts in Sussex have experienced no pedestrian and cycle accidents whatsoever. In fact, 98% of recorded collisions with pedestrians are caused by drivers. Does this mean cars should be banned from the roads? Of course not, but implementing a safe, traffic-free cycleway that connects the whole town will make it easier to leave the car at home for short trips. It would also help improve air quality – shockingly around 60 deaths a year in Eastbourne are attributed to air pollution – and ease gridlock. With around a fifth of children and a third of adults suffering from obesity, safer options for cycling and walking will save a fortune for the NHS – and greatly enhance Eastbourne’s potential for tourism.
There is a concern that the promenade between the Pier and the Pavilion tearoom is too narrow to accommodate both people on foot and on bicycles. Bespoke Cycle Group is, therefore, proposing to make space for a protected cycleway on Marine Parade. Beautiful planters could be used as barriers. This would mean less space for car storage on the road itself, but luckily there are plenty of options for motorists in nearby purpose-built car parks such as Trinity Trees, Redoubt and Fisherman’s Green.
A safe, traffic-free cycleway would be a powerful symbol of Eastbourne’s intent to embrace a cleaner, greener, and healthier future. The world’s scientists say we have 12 years to take action to avert climate breakdown. This is a properly practical proposal – and one that Bespoke have been campaigning for since 2007– that’s 12 years!