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Petitions from bike festival will be handed to council

Hastings Urban Bikes' (HUB) annual Bike Festival last Saturday at Alexandra Park in the East Sussex town saw hundreds of visitors turn up to celebrate cycling and promote safety. And more than 350 of them signed petitions calling for better cycle facilities for riders in Hastings and Bexhill.

The petitions will be handed over to Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council to urge them to allow mixed pedestrian and cycle use on the Bexhill promenade.

Nick Hanna of HUB told the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer: “It's amazing to see so much support for cycling in Hastings and it's truly shocking that our council continues to refuse to allocate resources to cycling, even though it's meant to be one of their corporate priorities. We don't even have a cycling officer. It's simply not good enough to pretend that cycling is the responsibility of the county council.

"There are dozens of routes which have been identified in the council's own recently-completed audit which aren't even on the highway. It's crazy that we have this huge green space running through centre of town and cyclists aren't allowed to use it.”

Caroline Kelly, Hastings council spokesman, said the council's Active Hastings team ran regular classes promoting cycling safety and took advantage of the seafront cycle route.

Mrs Kelly said in the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer: “We understand that many cyclists are keen to avoid busy roads particularly at peak times and we continue to work alongside our colleagues at East Sussex County Council who have recently approved a new cycling strategy for the whole of the county.”

Madeleine Gorman, Rother District Council head of amenities, said: "The provision of cycle paths on highways is the remit of East Sussex County Council and Rother District Council has been in discussions with the county council over the options for providing a cycle lane through Bexhill that would form part of the National Cycle Routes network.

"However, in the past the council has not supported the provision of a cycle lane on Bexhill Promenade on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the enjoyment and safety of people walking on the promenade, and it is felt that there are other more suitable options for a cycle route. Cycling on the promenade is currently an offence prohibited by the council's byelaws.

"We are setting up a working party of members to conduct a comprehensive review of seashore and promenade byelaws and this will include the subject of cycling along Bexhill seafront. We have also been liaising with the Bexhill Wheelers cycling group on our 'Next Wave' seafront regeneration plans."

Cycling along promenades is a contentious issue, particularly during the summer months, and the CTC has said on the issue: “We would like to see more promenades in the UK open to cyclists. We advise local councils to make their decisions with consideration for pedestrians and other users of the area and to look at how it works in other places.”

The Hastings Bike Festival itself, staged around the bandstand in the park, included free bike maintenance workshops, information on the health and environmental benefits of cycling, and live music.