Bespoke objection to the proposed Eastbourne town centre cycle ban TRO

The Bespoke Cycle Group have sent the following to Agya Kwarteng at Jacobs who are currently working on the Eastbourne Town Centre redevelopment. There is currently a proposal to ban all cycling at all times in the town centre, while still allowing access to motor vehicles. We believe this is wrong, and especially discriminates against disabled people who cycle.

Dear Mr Kwarteng

Comments on Traffic Regulation Order – Phase 2 Eastbourne Town Centre

Bespoke are writing to you directly, as requested, in your recent email. We believe that cycling between Bolton and Langney Roads is one of the few ‘low volume’ safe routes in the town and should remain accessible to cyclists.

This TRO as you are aware, is a further step in preventing cycling throughout the town centre. You may also know, that in Phase 1 cycle groups were identified, in the risk register due to their opposition to the overall approach in reducing cycling access. Later cycling, apart from parking, was removed totally from the scope of the project. This has been raised as a key concern by local cycle groups, especially as LCWIP provided no real acceptable alternatives.

The TRO states “The ‘no cycling’ within the scheme extent will be enforced by a legal traffic regulation order with appropriate signage. However, cycle parking will be provided at the entrance points to the scheme so that cyclists of all ages do not feel excluded. The considered placement of cycle parking should provide a safe and secure location that will encourage cyclists to dismount and park their bicycles. However, compliance cannot be guaranteed so measures will be taken to make restrictions clear though the legal traffic regulation order. Alternative cycle routes from Eastbourne station to the sea front have been developed and are being consulted upon as part of a separate scheme.”

It does not appear that disabled cyclists or groups like Wheels for Wellbeing were consulted. It is not sufficient to only consult with Disability Involvement Group (DIG), who do not have a positive attitude to cycling, and expressed concerns at the potential for cycling in pedestrianised areas, especially for pedestrians with sensory impairment and/or limited mobility, and the potential conflicts this generates.

The current proposal expects disabled cyclists to dismount, despite the fact that walking, wheeling, or lifting a cycle might be physically impossible for some. Perhaps even more of a problem with heavier e-bikes. The current plans mean disabled people face the threat of prosecution if they try to use their cycle in the town centre. The plans force disabled people to use sedentary vehicles, like mobility scooters, instead of being able to use active travel as part of an independent and healthy lifestyle.

Active travel has to be further supported in improving the health of the local residents. Scarlett McNally, who is a Bespoke cyclist and a NHS consultant, wrote the Royal Academy’s report ‘Exercise the miracle cure’. It collated evidence showing exercise was better than many drugs for reducing the risk of dementia, diabetes, bowel cancer and depression by 30%.  If people cannot cycle they will go back to using their cars.

There is no solution proposed for disabled cyclists trying to access Langney Road from Bolton Road or vice versa.

Looking at the data for collisions between cyclists and pedestrians in the Stats19 data set for the existing pedestrianised area, we can see there have been no collisions in the past 22 years that we have data for. As such it is not a problem that needs to be addressed.

Unsurprisingly, as in Phase 1, the proposed TRO calls for cycling to be banned at all times, yet motor vehicles are still allowed at times.  It remains unclear why those using cycles are seen as a greater risk.

This discriminatory approach to cycling is further evident from the 5 cycle schemes, out to consultation, as the trend to get cyclist to walk or dismount is increasing. The Ashford Road ( Horsey 1) scheme has walking near the station and corners where they must dismount.

Furthermore the current ESCC consultation, in terms of cycle parking in the town, failed to identify the needs for non-standard cycles such as tandems and tricycles, which are increasingly popular in Eastbourne.

In summary, Bespoke object to the proposed blanket ban on cycling at all times in the TRO. We believe this is discriminatory, and should be withdrawn, so those using cycles are still able to access the area. We have concerns the cycle parking proposed will not be accessible to those using non standard cycles. We also believe the Equalities Impact Assessment to be flawed, as the protected rights of elderly and disabled people who use cycles have been either missed or ignored, so should be updated.