June 2014 Newsletter

At Full Council on 7th May borough councillors overwhelmingly voted in favour of a byelaw change to allow cycling along Eastbourne’s seafront. The results were:

17 in favour
2 against
6 abstentions

Great news! Well, maybe. It won’t mean that all of Eastbourne’s promenades will be opened up for cycling – apparently it will be limited to the “top” prom route outlined in the consultation.

But there is one final hurdle, and a sizeable one. The decision needs to be rubber-stamped by the Secretary of State for Communities – none other than Eric Pickles, who is not known for his love of cyclists. He has described them as elitist and came up with this gem in 2011: “not all of us can pedal up and down in rubber kickers, you know.

But can Mr Pickles really overturn this decision – made by elected councillors after a high-profile and well attended public consultation? One would hope not, but it is possible – more stakeholders, such as disability groups, have apparently been invited to comment. Details of the tortuous process are here, for those who enjoy peering at rusty, bureaucratic wheels grinding very slowly.

Meanwhile, over in Sovereign Harbour, a war of words has broken out over whether or not the harbour-side paths are open for cycling. I think most people have assumed they are, given there are no signs or instructions on the matter other than a short stretch by the waterfront cafes.

But the Harbour’s appearance on the new Eastbourne Cycle map (distribution now halted) as offering safe passage for cyclists has inflamed passions and launched an interminable debate over whether certain stretches have been “adopted” and if so, by whom. We beat on, boats against the current..

More positively, Eastbourne Carnival and Cycling Festival were great – thanks to all who waved Bespoke’s flag and manned the gazebo. Also, more encouraging noises on proper infrastructure for cycling have been emanating from central government. This speech, for example, by Robert Goodwill MP, Under Secretary of State for Transport, on 1st May. And some welcome new guidelines on cycle infrastructure from Sustrans. Published on the same day as this even better one “Making Space for Cycling” from Cyclenation. You wait decades..

Proper bike infrastructure was high on the agenda at the marvellous Cycling Embassy of Great Britain AGM in Brighton last weekend. I was really impressed by the separate cycle lanes along Old Shoreham Road (a template for King’s Drive, Eastbourne?) and it was great to ride along there with members of other cycle groups from around Britain, including Hastings, Hull, London, Sheffield and Tunbridge Wells, which has just launched Cycle Fridays – now there’s an idea..

And finally, things are moving on the Little Chelsea public- realm front. Eastbourne Can have launched an online survey to see what local businesses, residents and visitors/others think about cutting traffic in Grove Road and part of South Street – do have your say here.

Safe cycling!


P.S. The next Bespoke meeting is at 7.30pm Wednesday 18th June at the Crown and Anchor, Marine Parade.