Brighton and Hove Council hasn’t shown a whole lot of love towards cycling in recent months, but now cyclists are worried that they are slowly being completely driven out of the decision-making process — to the point that a key active travel forum was scrapped while its members were left in the dark for months.
The Active and Inclusive Travel Forum (AITF) was previously one of the several groups consulted on highways projects, such as changes to the layout of Valley Gardens and Madeira Drive.
However, earlier this month, the forum was told that it had been disbanded in May. However, others such as those for bus users and taxi drivers still exist in the transport partnership and get to have a say in road projects.
Becky Reynolds of Bricycles, said: “Neither I nor the members of the AITF were informed directly that the meeting had been abolished. I view this as very poor process.
“We all gave up our time to assist the council. The AITF provided a means of sharing perspectives and for issues to be notified directly to a responsible. Our local knowledge also helps to improve travel and transport proposals.
“If the work of the AITF is to be included in the transport partnership, we’ll need more meeting time. It is urgent to pick up the momentum on schemes to provide better, safer infrastructure.
“Several much-needed schemes have been “paused”, like the A23 where people are at daily risk from outdated road design and potholed roads.”
One of the cycling projects which has been shelved is the cycle lane parallel to the pavement down on Madeira Drive, for which the previous Green council secured a £1.2 million funding. It is supposed to provide a continuous two-way cycle facility on the southern side of the A259, as well as cycle parking, provision of a BTN Bikeshare hub and bus network improvements between the Palace Pier roundabout and Lower Rock Gardens.
However, since the Labour party took over the Greens in this May’s local elections, the council has been described as being “actively against active travel” and accused of “wilfully destroying cycling infrastructure”.
Jamie Lloyd, former Green councillor and lead for Active Travel, had told road.cc: “It was the previous Green council that won the 1.2 million for the improved cycle lane and now that the anti-active travel Labour council are in full control they will almost certainly not do anything to deliver on that.”
Other schemes which have been “paused” include a new cycle lane from Fourth Avenue to Hove Lagoon and the final phase of Valley Gardens, which includes a new cycle lane from Edward Street to the seafront.
This week, it was announced only half of a new cycle lane north of Preston Circus may go ahead because of “affordability”, reports Brighton and Hove News.
Councillor Trevor Muten, Chair of the council’s Transport and Sustainability Committee, however, said that the council will be inviting more stakeholders to represent their views, and has previously said that “cycle lanes are hugely important for the city”, but the actions of the council seemed to say otherwise.
Councillor Muten said: “I consider the existing and long standing transport partnership the best place for all views to be expressed by key transport bodies and representative organisations, on transport schemes.
“There were four representatives at the September meeting who were pushing for the reinstatement of the active and inclusive travel forum. As chair, I set out the reasons why we will not be doing so.
“As a new Labour administration, we have increased membership of the transport partnership and will invite more stakeholders to ensure the breadth of views are well represented.
“There will be much wider proactive consultation with stakeholders on new transport schemes and initiatives as they progress, as standard.
“We will also consider holding working groups on specific schemes, should additional feedback on the detailed technical aspects of schemes be helpful. We will keep this under review.
“We are committed to being a listening council. If any group represented does not feel that their voice is being heard, I encourage them to get in touch with me directly.”
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.