A popular pop-up cycle lane that featured in a government video promoting cycling investment is to be scrapped – even after the council voted to keep it. Campaigners say the decision was taken before the project had even been completed.
As we’ve previously reported, the segregated cycle lane on Upper Shoreham Road in Shoreham-on-Sea as much as tripled cycling levels without impacting car journeys. The route serves a hospital and several schools.
Despite its apparent benefits, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) cabinet member for highways, Roger Elkins, argued that the lane was an emergency response to a unique set of circumstances and that the transport network had now changed with public transport options restored.
A scrutiny committee last week voted 6:2 in favour of asking him to reconsider his decision but it was yesterday confirmed that the lane was to be removed.
The Shoreham-By-Cycle group said that virtually every school in Shoreham had co-signed a letter to Elkins, extolling the benefits of the project and pleading for its retention, while WSCC's own report said the scheme was a huge success, with thousands of additional cycle journeys.
A Shoreham-By-Cycle spokesperson said: “Councillor Roger Elkins' decision to go against advice and insist on the removal of Upper Shoreham Road's cycle lanes goes in the face of all the evidence that was presented to a WSCC scrutiny committee last week.
“The popular cycle lane was featured in a Department for Transport video highlighting the tremendous benefits of such projects.
“Even in its unfinished state, this DfT-funded scheme prompted a trebling of cycling numbers, with no delay to motor traffic, and a reduction in the numbers of children reliant on being driven to school – all evidenced in WSCC's own report.
“Yet despite a 6-2 vote from the scrutiny committee, asking Councillor Elkins to reconsider, he has decided to go against the sensible option of keeping our roads easier and safer for journeys by bike.”
The spokesperson added: “Ripping it out now – as we enter the darkest months of the year – will endanger children on their way to school, discourage use of bikes for short everyday journeys, and do away with the chance to gather more data on how routes like this are used.”
The council says it is now looking to construct a permanent cycle way in Shoreham given the support and enthusiasm shown for pop-up schemes.
It said: “Any scheme in the town would be redesigned to make sure it is suitable as a permanent scheme. If taken forward as a priority for the County Council, this would be subject to the Department for Transport agreeing additional investment as well as full and thorough consultation with the public and engagement with all relevant stakeholders.
“If agreed by the Department of Transport, this scheme would be added to the Tranche 2 cycle way work which will see permanent cycling improvements across the county.”
Shoreham-By-Cycle said the comments were “effectively empty” and that the Upper Shoreham Road pop-up scheme should have remained in place while alternatives were considered.
“There is no money with which to create this supposed permanent scheme,” said the group. “Tranche 2 of the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund saw a huge cut in the amount hoped for by WSCC (one of the largest reductions of any local authority's funding bid) – an indication that the council's approach to cycling infrastructure is considered inadequate by central government.
“If a permanent scheme is to be built on Upper Shoreham Road, extra money will have to be found – and this will take time.
“At last week's scrutiny meeting, Shoreham councillor Kevin Boram proposed that this temporary scheme remain in place for further months while the possibility of a permanent solution is looked into.
“This would have retained the considerable benefits of the scheme, ensuring a continuity of the safer, easier cycling being experienced by so many.”