Cycling UK is appealing against the refusal of a High Court judge to allow a judicial review of the decision of West Sussex County Council to remove a well-used pop-up cycle lane in Shoreham-by-Sea.
The charity had applied on 25 February for a judicial review of West Sussex County Council decision to remove the cycle lane along the A270 Upper Shoreham Road.
Construction of the segregated lane, funded by the Department for Transport’s emergency active travel fund, began in September last year, and it featured in a government video promoting the benefits of investing in cycling.
Levels of cycling trebled on the cycle lane in Shoreham after it was introduced, and it was particularly busy during the afternoon school run.
But in November, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways, Roger Elkins, decided to remove the lanes before construction had even finished, despite the council’s scrutiny committee voting 6:2 for him to reconsider.
It subsequently transpired following a Freedom of Information request by local campaign group Shoreham-By-Cycle that the councillor had never officially visited the facility ahead of making the decision.
In its application for a judicial review of the decision, Cycling UK had argued that the council:
failed to take into account or comply with statutory guidance issued under the Traffic Management Act
acted irrationally given that WSCC’s own information did not support the reasons given for removal of the cycle lane and
breached the public sector equality duty (PSED), particularly given that it had information showing the scheme was especially beneficial for children accessing local secondary schools.
However, in a High Court hearing on 26 May, Mr Justice Lane refused Cycling UK’s applications for permission to pursue the judicial review.
The charity has now appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal, which will consider the issue later this year.
Duncan Dollimore, the charity’s head of campaigns and advocacy, said: “Cycling UK is obviously disappointed by Mr Justice Lane’s ruling, and after considering legal advice has appealed this decision.
“The issues this case raises, including the requirement to actively consider the impact of road space reallocation decisions on all groups with protected characteristics, are too important to let this case rest here.”
He expanded on his comments in an email to road.cc, saying: “Cycling UK brought this case to court because we believe that the council failed to take into account statutory guidance issued under the Traffic Management Act, acted irrationally, and breached the public sector equality duty.
“We’re hugely disappointed that the Judge didn’t agree and refused us permission to pursue the case further.
“That said, litigation concerning active travel schemes is still relatively new,” he continued, pointing out that the Court of Appeal last week overturned a High Court decision from January that Transport for London’s Streetspace programme was unlawful.
“Only a fool guarantees success in any court case, but we still believe that the council acted unlawfully, which is why, following receipt of legal advice, we’ve appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal,” Dollimore added.
The costs of the appeal, as with those of the original action, are being borne by Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund, which it says “helps fight significant legal cases involving cyclists and cycling, especially those which could set important precedents for the future and could affect the safety of all cyclists.”
West Sussex County Council has said on several occasions that it is exploring introducing a permanent scheme on Upper Shoreham Road, subject to DfT funding.
However, Shoreham-By-Cycle has said that removal of the temporary lane makes no sense given the uncertainty over securing that funding, plus the time and expense involved in planning and construction of a permanent cycleway.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.