Benefits for cyclists stalled

Cycling in East Sussex is under increasing pressure. Low spending by the county council has now resulted in only 10% of residents cycling at least once a month.

The Department for Transport annual data has only Medway, in the South East, with lower numbers. The question is when will cycling conditions improve?

There certainly is ‘active travel’ money in the East Sussex County Council’s budget, but cycling campaign groups have found out that across the county only £165,000 has been spent on actual cycle construction in the last 4 years.

Much gets spent on consultation and design. In fact, more has been spent on removing cycling from Eastbourne town centre.

South East Local Enterprise Partnership has identified that £2million has been spent on 4 ‘cycle schemes’ in Eastbourne.

The county council have confirmed, to me, that this money has been spent on the “provision of various design services… Road Safety Audits… amendments to the proposed designs… statutory and public consultation, elements of structural design ad crash barrier provision, and [in 2015] junction layout alterations… [and] parking arrangements on the southeastern side of Ashford Road.”

So the question is what usable schemes have been built for cyclists out of this £2m? The answer currently is nil, and due to financial pressures, some may never be built.

Other similar examples would include £2.5m of Government monies during Covid for temporary measures across the county, that included 5 ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes in the town.

Apart from a contribution to a scheme in Brighton and a limited amount of cycle parking, nothing else in county was built for cycling. Once again, much was spent on design, consultation, reallocated or not spent. Other councils decided to try temporary schemes, some of which were later kept.

BBC TV had recently asked the Bespoke Cycle Group for a news iten. One idea had been cycling the school run. However, the problem was finding enough children and parents who still cycle to school. Ever worsening congestion and dangerous roads are the main reasons.

There is no sign of anything getting better, but if you support cycling and want it improved, you should contact your councillors. You can also comment via the current consultation on the Local Transport Plan.

Paul Humphreys – Chair, Cycle East Sussex