It’s becoming as established a part of the coming of spring as cuckoos being heard, daffodils blooming and the clocks going forward – the arrival of the first ‘Prom Wars’ story of the year, which in 2011 comes courtesy of Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
A new £7.6 million scheme called City Beach, due to be completed by the end of this month, will see cyclists share the promenade with pedestrians rather than a separate cycle lane along Marine Parade, according to a report in the Southend Standard.
The newspaper says that the council has allocated £10,000 from its highways budget so that a cycle path can be marked out on the promenade, and is keen that the facility not be used for cycling quickly.
“The enhanced paving area at City Beach is designed to be used by both pedestrians and cyclists,” explained cabinet member for transport and planning, Mark Flewitt.
“We are currently looking at ways of managing this designated shared space, but it will not involve the type of engineering measures employed elsewhere on the seafront where sections of pavement have been removed and coloured cycle tracks have been introduced,” he continued.
“Provision for cyclists will be met from the annual highways budget and is therefore not subject to the March 31 deadline set for the main City Beach works.”
Funded by the government, the City Beach project needs to be finished by the end of March if the council is to avoid having to fund any uncompleted work itself. However, since the cycle path markings are to be paid for by the council, they will not be subject to that deadline.
Graham Pearl from local cycle club Southend Wheelers, who is also a Sustrans Bike-It officer, said: “Anything that allows us to cycle in more places is beneficial.
“When it comes to shared use, it’s all about respect for each other, both cyclists and pedestrians.”
One local resident was less enthusiastic, however. Carmel Bishop, aged 42 from Bishopsteignton, Shoebury, commented: “You used to get serious problems, particularly in Chalkwell during busy periods when pedestrians were dodging cyclists.
“It looks like we’re going back to that,” she added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.