Railway station to seafront via Terminus Road

This is one of Bespoke’s proposals for Covid-19 emergency protected cycle lanes in Eastbourne.

Terminus Road is Eastbourne’s high street. Almost a kilometre long, it forms the backbone of the town, linking the railway station with the town centre and the seafront. Just about everyone who lives in the town or visits it will travel along it at some point.

Parts of Terminus Road provide a pleasant, relaxed environment for all. The new paving that fronts the extended Beacon shopping centre looks clean and uncluttered. But there’s a problem – bicycles have been designed out of the picture at a time when the world is waking up their importance as a vital part of the transport mix. During the Covid-19 pandemic of spring 2020, this has become even more apparent, with lots of families rediscovering what a pleasant way of getting around it is when road conditions feel safe.

Cycling is basically banned along the majority of Eastbourne’s high street, with the exception of two short sections where one-way traffic is permitted. This means that anyone who arrives at the station with a bike, perhaps having come by train or having ridden down from Old Town and wants to head to the seafront is faced with two choices: the busy and dangerous Ashford Road or the one-way traffic corridor of Grove Road.

Neither option is an obvious route to the sea.

People first

The best solution, for Bespoke, would be to pedestrianize the whole street from station to seafront, with access for cycles – 1899 style.

Sharing the section between the station and Banker’s corner with buses isn’t ideal – after all, bus lanes are not cycling infrastructure. Perhaps returning Gildredge Road to two-way traffic and directing buses there would have been better.

That decision has been made, but should cars and vans still be allowed to barrel along the central section of Terminus Road in 2020? This area – specifically between The Body Shop and the entrance to the Beacon – could be a piazza. Taxis could still serve the area, but from a turning bay on Bolton Road.

Putting pedestrians and cyclists first in Terminus Road means giving them priority over vehicles at the junctions with Seaside Road and Pevensey Road. These designs, from London and Boston, show what’s possible.

The “top” section of Terminus Road – from Seaside Road to the seafront – would be miles better without motor vehicles, which could be diverted along Trinity Place. The result would be space for socially-distanced al fresco dining within sight of the sea as well as market stalls, planters, seating and play areas. Amblers and cyclists could continue, unheeded, to the seafront, and then head for Holywell or Sovereign Harbour – safely separated from traffic if our Covid-19 emergency seafront cycleway proposal gets a green light.

Instead of a sea of empty tarmac, it could look like this:

Retailers benefit from pedestrians & cyclists

Studies around the world – from New York to San Francisco, Auckland to Toronto – have shown that introducing bike lanes and cycle parking has actually led to higher retail sales, as people spend more time and money on a street which has been transformed into a nicer place to be. This busy shopping street in Groningen, The Netherlands is a good example.

Much narrower than Terminus Road, it easily manages to accommodate people walking and cycling. Indeed, by prioritising human-powered transport over many years, Groningen has developed into a lively, safe, sustainable and healthy city.

Terminus Road – could it become Eastbourne’s answer to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas?