£800k Brighton cycle lanes may be ripped out after just three years at cost of £1.1m

Removal would "improve the visual impact and traffic flow " says council

by Mark Appleton   February 15, 2011  

Brighton cycle lanes on Grand Avenue and The Drive.jpg

Bike lanes installed just three years ago in Brighton and Hove may be ripped up at great expense to local taxpayers in order to “improve traffic flow”.

Half of the cash for the installation of the approximately £800,000 semi-segregated lanes on Grand Avenue and The Drive, was provided by Cycling England in 2008 but it will cost an estimated £1.1m to remove the facility and upgrade the road.

And there is already an admission from Brighton and Hove City Council that some of the Cycling England money may also need to be paid back if the proposal goes ahead.

CTC and local campaign group Bricycles, are opposing the plan and were opposed to the original design of the lanes which they say fail to meet acceptable standards. They say that the current design discourages some cyclists altogether and allows vehicles to block the lanes entirely, as pictured above. But rather than upgrading the facility to make it more bike-friendly, the council says it should simply be removed.

A council budget report says: "In order to improve the visual impact and traffic flow along this important north – south corridor including access to the A27 / A23 from the A259 / Shoreham Harbour it is proposed to remove the cycle lane along both sides of Grand Avenue and The Drive.

“An indicative cost of removing the lanes including changes to the signalling is £1.1m to be funded by a further topslice from LTP grant. Detailed costings have yet to be undertaken and any residual funds would be given back to the LTP. There is a low risk that up to £0.3m grant funding may need to be repaid."

That £300,000 would have to be repaid to Cycling England, potentially increasing the cost of removing the cycle lane to £1.4m.

Tony Green of Bricycle told road.cc: “When instated, less than three years ago, the city council described this scheme as a state of the art Cycling Freeway, but now they think it is a blot on the landscape. The administration seems to have lost the plot and is behaving like a headless chicken.”

Council Leader Mary Mears told road.cc:

“The cycle lane up Grand Avenue and the Drive was agreed by the previous Labour Administration – we were always against it because we felt it would not be safe and was unnecessary due to the road already being so wide.

"By putting forward this proposal to remove it we are responding to residents’ concerns (and indeed the concerns of some cyclists). In addition, unlike some other cycle lanes in the City, it is not well used. Removal of the lane will also facilitate traffic flow coming along the coast road from Shoreham Harbour and up to the north of the City along this key route.

"We are not anticipating having to pay back the money to Cycling England as they are one of the quangos that the Government is abolishing. Neither are we anticipating that it will cost anything like the £1.1 million which has been allocated in the budget - this was purely a precautionary measure to cover all eventualities.

"The Green’s opposition to investment in the City’s car parks shows just how out of touch with the mainstream they are. Good quality parking space is vital to the continued growth of the local economy, attracting visitors and shoppers to the City to spend their money. The Lanes Car Park, for example, has been transformed beyond recognition since we refurbished it and many more people now use it.

"We want to facilitate sensible car use in the City, not try and prevent it for dogmatic ideological reasons. The Green’s proposals on congestion charging and hiking up the cost of parking permits for family cars would be hugely damaging to the City’s economy and would unfairly penalise people who rely on their vehicles."
 

15 user comments

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I take it the cycle lane is the bit at the side with the truck blocking it. There don't seem to be any signs indicating that it a cycle lane. Isn't Caroline Lucas from the Green Party MP for the Brighton area? In the age of austerity why are they spending money on this right now I suppose they think that they can always close down the odd library instead.

yarrump's picture

posted by yarrump [15 posts]
15th February 2011 - 17:05

2 Likes

I walked past these cycle lanes every day on the way to work and it never failed to amaze how ill-conceived they are.

Rob

posted by robert.brady [146 posts]
15th February 2011 - 17:16

7 Likes

In my experience cycle lanes on the road are a bad idea, especially if they colour the lane green. This is because the driver's perception of the width of the road changes so they give less space when passing cyclists than if the road wasn't coloured. (Interestingly they use the same perception trick to slow traffic through villages by using hash marks or brick walls).

I even wrote to my local Council and Ringway to ask them not to put back the green coating on a cycle lane after a road was resurfaced and neither of them replied.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
15th February 2011 - 17:18

3 Likes

(This isn't about the article, but about the signature above by "hairyairey").

Ah - i haven't seen that one before.

Is that a new signature?

Please can I ask you to reconsider it?

I am a final year medical student, soon to be a junior doctor, and will be taking up a job in psychiatry in August.

The Mental Health Act isn't something to be taken lightly. Not many people realize how controversial it can be.

And cyclists don't come close to having a "mental disorder" under the terms of the act. Not just for cycling, anyway.

Thanks,

James.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
15th February 2011 - 17:58

3 Likes

Google Brighton & Hove Council Leader Mary Mears and look at her photo.

Why is it that such a large percentage of these myopic, car loving, anti-cycling, bigots are obese?

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
15th February 2011 - 18:00

3 Likes

I use these lanes frequently - they are indeed as ill-conceived as they appear to be. Traffic cuts across them all over the place, they're forever being blocked as in the photo and you have to make ridiculous dashes across the flow of traffic to turn right. And because they take up quite a bit of space they make cycling on the main carriageway more dangerous too. I think it does make more sense to get rid of them altogether than upgrade them - these are wide avenue-style roads that don't benefit hugely from having cycle lanes.

There are other roads in the area that should be looked at first...the Old Shoreham Road, for instance, is deadly for cyclists and the council's promises to make them safer lent weight to Brighton's request for Cycling England funding. Plans were drawn up, discussed, watered down, then dropped altogether, leading to suspicion among some cynical souls that the council never had any intention of building them but just wanted the funding. As if local politicians could ever be so underhanded!

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [584 posts]
15th February 2011 - 18:06

4 Likes

Living locally, I know & use these lanes regularly & they are, as Rob says, frighteningly ill conceived. Cars are forced to park in the middle of the road, confusing queueing traffic &, perversely, the road is so wide that there is plenty of room for all road users irrespective. The converse of the situation in London where the nearside lane is often compromised to fit a bike lane in, making the whole situation worse.
The lanes are only wide enough for one rider, so overtaking is not possible, as kerbs on either side & usually blocked with cars, delivery vans & road works, hence throwing you out into the main carriageway with moments notice.
A shocking waste of money to build (wherever it came from) & a regretable further drain in removing, but I applaud the action of the Council in sorting it out.
I fear that this won't be the last story to hit the headlines about the cycling infrastructure of Brighton & Hove as so much of it must have been penned by the same ignorant, inexperienced & irresponsible hand.

Bikesoup's picture

posted by Bikesoup [22 posts]
15th February 2011 - 18:21

6 Likes

Actually, hairyairey just explained why he has such a sig - I take it back, he has a point!

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
15th February 2011 - 18:33

3 Likes

Obviously one of the Councils who managed to avoid Mr Cameron's swingeing cuts. Not sure my Council could afford to waste this sort of cash. Not that I'm saying that they too are not incompetent enough to fork out the cash by cutting another hundred or so council jobs.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [399 posts]
15th February 2011 - 20:41

3 Likes

Hi PJ McNally - just to fill everyone in I have had the dubious pleasure in the past of being "voluntarily" taken into hospital under the threat of being sectioned. If I was to leave I would be sectioned. Not sure how voluntary that really is (a bit too much Hotel California if you ask me).

Without going into too many boring details (like "Ted Striker" in Airplane) a concerned friend who was also a psychiatric nurse misunderstood something I said as evidence of considering self-abuse. She took me down to the drop-in centre. I was prescribed risperidone which I didn't want to take (it stops you exercising which has been my way of dealing with stress for years) so things went downhill from there.

The signature is meant to be a rhetorical question. It isn't meant to be offensive to anyone with mental health problems. I've been assaulted at work for having mental health problems. My current situation is that my condition is so bad I can be threatened with sectioning but not so bad that I get any consideration in the workplace. Absurd is an understatement.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
15th February 2011 - 22:49

3 Likes

Being detained under the MHA isnt such a bad thing. If you were subject to s3, you would be entitled to all sorts of financial freebies when finally discharged. Could even get a decent bike..............

posted by prawsk [5 posts]
16th February 2011 - 8:50

6 Likes

how lucky they are .... !!!!!

"We are not anticipating having to pay back the money to Cycling England as they are one of the quangos that the Government is abolishing."

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [768 posts]
16th February 2011 - 8:53

4 Likes

Personally, I don't want special cycle lanes, etc.

What I do want, however, is some consideration from motorised vehicle drivers.

Binky

posted by davebinks [129 posts]
16th February 2011 - 9:21

4 Likes

'we were always against it because we felt it would not be safe and was unnecessary due to the road already being so wide.'

So why was it installed in the first place then? Surely they had some kind of reasonably objective safety assessment by some sort of safety expert? No council makes a move on anything before extensive assessments of every detail by experts, at great expense.

Surely safety would have been the primary objective of the scheme in the first place.

It's implied that it cost £800,000 to make the situation more dangerous for cyclists and generally worse for everyone, reducing traffic flow into the bargain. How could they have been quite so dim, even taking account that it's a council we're dealing with here?

And the officious language they hide behind. Topslice??? Put up a wall of officous jargon and no one might notice how dim you really are.

posted by bikeylikey [173 posts]
16th February 2011 - 9:27

6 Likes

if you think scrapping these particular lanes and are in Brighton this weekend there's a little protest going on...

"From the Green Group of Councillors, Brighton & Hove City Council

Photo Op: Saturday 19th February 12noon at the corner of The Drive & Cromwell Road in Hove

Greens and cyclists protest against proposal to scrap cycle lanes

Cyclists and local Green councillors will protest at midday on Saturday 19th February against the Conservative administration’s proposals to scrap the cycle lanes on The Drive in Hove. They are calling on them to abandon their plans.

The administration revealed their plans to spend £1.1m removing the cycle lanes in Brighton & Hove City Council’s budget for the coming year. The reason cited for the removal is ‘In order to improve the visual impact and traffic flow along this important north – south corridor including access to the A27 / A23 from the A259 /Shoreham Harbour’

Green transport spokesperson Cllr Ian Davey and Goldsmid ward councillor Cllr Alex Phillips have charged the Conservative administration with wasting public money and increasing danger to road users and residents.

Cllr Davey commented: “These cycle lanes were put in by the same Conservative administration in 2008 at a cost of over £600,000. To spend nearly twice as much now taking them out again is sheer madness. Furthermore they claim to be responding to resident’s safety concerns, yet casualties have reduced since the cycle lanes went in. Widening the road will increase both traffic speed and volume. It is clear the Tories are encouraging its use as a route to and from Shoreham Harbour. Much of this traffic will be heavy vehicles .The proposals will make this road more dangerous for all road users and residents and rob families of a safe cycle route to the seafront.”

Green ward councillor Alex Phillips added: “Many people live on these roads and use them daily to take their children to school, some on the new cycle lane. I share residents’ concerns that removing the cycle lane will increase the volume and speed of motor vehicles, make the roads more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians and raise pollution levels. I call on the Conservative administration to abandon these ridiculous proposals. With the council strapped for cash for vital services, there are better ways to spend this money.”

Ian & Alex are also asking people to sign their petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43064.html"

posted by VecchioJo [769 posts]
16th February 2011 - 20:10

3 Likes