A Waterlines Response

In its recent newsletter “Waterlines“, the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association made various assertions about cycling and Bespoke.

Bespoke would have welcomed any opportunity to discuss the SHRA’s concerns before publication. There may be some areas we could both agree on.

We would like to comment on a number of points raised.

Cycling On Quaysides

The SHRA’s main concern is around cycling on quaysides and at The Waterfront.

The SHRA have asked Bespoke to respect the law, and this is something we always do.

On the cycle map we helped produce with CEPE and Eastbourne Borough Council we show some quaysides as cycle routes, with the legend “designated cycle route”. The SHRA claim that we are showing these as dedicated cycle routes – we aren’t. What we are trying to show is that on these routes it is NOT an offence to ride a cycle, as it is on other paths. On future maps we can look at rewording this to reduce confusion and hopefully make it clearer that these routes are primarily, though not exclusively, for pedestrians.

The SHRA point out the law is very clear and that cycling on footpaths is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. The relevant law is Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835. Again, Bespoke agree with this. Legally, it’s an offence to cycle on a footway, however the quaysides are footpaths not footways and the Road Traffic Act does not apply as there is no carriageway there. Cyclists would only commit an offence if, for example, a byelaw was in place such as the one on the promenade from Fisherman’s Green to Holywell in Eastbourne. There is no such byelaw in place for Sovereign Harbour. So while these paths are primarily intended for pedestrians, it’s not an offence to cycle there. Bespoke would urge anyone cycling there to give pedestrians priority as many already do.


Bespoke have never shown the Waterfront as allowing cycling as this is privately owned, and the owners have clear signage showing they do not want cycling on their property.

The SHRA claim that Government Guidelines state that shared space is a last option and that cyclists and pedestrians should not share the same space. We believe this is incorrect, and current Government advice comes from the Department for Transport’s Manual for Streets (2007) and the DfT approved Manual for Streets 2 (2010) from The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, which was published by Lewes MP Norman Baker when he was transport minister. These overturned almost 30 years of planning guidance which was increasing out of date with modern needs and use. If the SHRA have a more recent DfT approved document we’d be happy to read it and take the advice into account.

The guidance from Manual for Streets 2 dates from 2010 and states:

2.3.12 Advice on the issue is set out in TAL 9/93 ‘Cycling in Pedestrian Areas’. This emphasises that on the basis of research, there are no real factors to justify excluding cyclists from pedestrianized areas and that cycling can be widely permitted without detriment to pedestrians. This was confirmed by TRL report 583 ‘Cycling in Vehicle Restricted Areas’ (2003) which established that cyclists alter their behaviour according to the density of pedestrian traffic by modifying their speed or dismounting. Case studies contained within the report demonstrate that very few collisions actually occur between cyclists and pedestrians. It also showed that as pedestrian flows rise, the incidence of cyclists choosing to push their cycle also rises and those cyclists who continue to ride tend to do so at a lower speed.

Mention has been made that cyclists are well provided for with shared use paths along Pacific and Atlantic Drives. These are actually very poor, and against best practice. The design forces those using the paths to stop at every single junction, as there is no priority over traffic and many junctions are blind until just before the kerb. Many cyclists choose to use the roads as they have priority there to the frustration of some drivers.

The guidance from Manual for Streets dates from 2007 and states:

6.2.4 Cyclists are more likely to choose routes that enable them to keep moving. Routes that take cyclists away from their desire lines and require them to concede priority to side-road traffic are less likely to be used. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cyclists using cycle tracks running adjacent and parallel to a main road are particularly vulnerable when they cross the mouths of side roads and that, overall, these routes can be more hazardous to cyclists than the equivalent on-road route.


Changes To Eastbourne Seafront Byelaw

The SHRA claim that Eastbourne Borough Council responded to pressure from Bespoke to modify the seafront byelaw to allow cycling on the promenades.

While it’s flattering to think this is purely down to Bespoke, it’s actually been part of Eastbourne’s Cycle Strategy, approved by both the borough and county councils, for several years. Bespoke have been pushing for this to actually happen rather than just being an aim sitting on a piece of paper.

East Sussex County Council carried out a public consultation on cycling at the start of 2014, and it was the most widely responded to consultation in Eastbourne’s history. 73% of respondents supported cycling along the seafront. In response, the borough council are looking to modify the current seafront byelaw to allow themselves scope to open up parts of the prom to cycles, while retaining other parts as pedestrian only routes. This is something Bespoke supports.

Cycle Parking

The SHRA have asked that cyclists park their bikes only in the designated area, and have pointed out that this area is rarely used. Bespoke agree that the cycle parking is poorly used near the Waterfront, however this is because it’s almost impossible to safely park a bike there.

The stands in the cycle parking area are “Grippa”, a design unsuited to outdoor use, especially in a seaside town. The majority of them have moving arms that have rusted in place or are broken, rendering them useless. The ones that are still usable, don’t fit all bikes. It’s of little surprise that visitors to the harbour need to lock up on railings as there is no where else to park a bike.

In a recent planning meeting at Eastbourne Borough Council, Bespoke raised this as a concern, and requested that all future cycle parking provision use Sheffield Stands (the ones that look like a “n” shaped pipe) as these have no moving parts that can break or rust, and are suitable for all types of bike. The borough council have agreed with Bespoke that this will be the case going forward.

It is also worth noting that the cycle parking area is also away from Waterfront and mostly surrounded by shrubs that obscure the view of the bikes there. This leaves bikes parked vulnerable and increases the risk of theft or vandalism. This design is very much against best practice and guidance from the Government which states that visitor cycle-parking in the public realm is best provided in well-overlooked areas (see Manual for Streets, 2007).

Bespoke would prefer to see more cycle parking in more locations across Sovereign Harbour, not just concentrated in one spot as it is at the moment.


A reference was made to a lady being knocked down on a harbour promenade. The details we have seen make no reference to this sad event occurring on a promenade or path, only somewhere at Sovereign Harbour. Many more people are hurt in accidents with motor vehicles than with cycles. So while any such accident is of concern, it should be seen for what is, a (thankfully) very rare occurrence.

Applying The Law

The SHRA have asked that the law is applied equally and fairly and that illegal cycling should be prevented, with cautions and fines issued as necessary.

The areas were it would be illegal to cycle around Sovereign Harbour would be on “pavements” next to roads, except on the shared use paths on Atlantic and Pacific Drives. It’s not an offence to cycle on the adopted quaysides, even though these are primarily pedestrian routes. It’s also not illegal to cycle on private quaysides such as the Waterfront, though the owners could see this as trespass if they have requested no cycling on their property. Cyclist dismount signs are advisory not mandatory, so you can ignore them when riding, however they are normally placed as a warning that the area is not suitable for cycling. If you ignore a sign, you are not breaking the law.

Under 10’s can’t be prosecuted for riding on a pavement. Under 16’s can’t be issued with a fixed penalty notice so are also unlikely to be fined. Adults can be fined, but the Home Office issued guidance that they should only be fined if they are riding in a manner that may endanger others. Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued a letter stating, “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.” Current roads minister Robert Goodwill confirmed this advice is still valid in January 2014 in a letter to cycling group Stop Killing Cyclists. This advice was then re-issued to all police forces.

Cycling Is Good For You

Finally, we’d like mention some of the health benefits of cycling, as this wasn’t mentioned in Waterlines.

Cycling burns calories, speeds up metabolism, and reduces the risk of diabetes by 50%. It can reduce you chance of dying of a heart attack or stroke by 22%, reduce your cholesterol, reduces hypertension (high blood pressure), and reduces stress. For our older population, cycling helps keep joints supple, it is low impact so doesn’t jar your joints, and off-loads weight from the knees so you can exercise without taking your whole body weight through them. Regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equal to a person 10 years younger, and also benefit from toned buttocks and thighs. With a growing obesity crisis and an ageing population, getting on a bike can add years to, and improve the quality of your life. For more information, please see the Health & Safety section of our website.

In Conclusion

We hope this was useful and has clarified the points raised in Waterlines. The government wants to “Get Britain Cycling” and Bespoke are committed to helping achieve this in Eastbourne. We want to work with all groups, including the SHRA, to make this happen in a way that benefits everyone, not just those who cycle. Sovereign Harbour is a lovely place to ride a bike, as many families already know, and we want more people to be able to enjoy this jewel in Eastbourne’s crown.

Note: All advice is believed to be correct, and references have been supplied where appropriate so you can verify what we are saying independently. We are not qualified to give legal advice and if in doubt we recommend talking to a lawyer.