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West Sussex to remove pop-up cycle lanes because "traffic has significantly increased"

County council ditches measures to reduce motor traffic in response to a rise in motor traffic

West Sussex County Council is to remove a number of pop-up cycle lanes, on the basis that, “the extraordinary environment that led to their installation no longer exists.”

Like many local authorities, West Sussex County Council installed a number of pop-up bike lanes during the initial Covid-19 lockdown using the Government’s emergency active travel fund.

The council announced last month that it planned to remove one cycleway in Chichester – a town where the mayor had opposed such measures because he believed they resulted in too many “inexperienced” cyclists on the roads.

Transport Network reports that pop-up lanes in Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Shoreham and Worthing will now also be removed.

In a statement, the council said that the decision was partly as a result of a ‘significant increase’ in traffic – the very issue pop-up lanes are intended to combat through reducing the need for people to make journeys by car.

“When the Government funding was awarded and the cycleways’ construction started, the country was just emerging from the first national lockdown,” said a spokesperson.

“However, since then, the Government has continued to provide additional funding for local public transport and traffic has significantly increased, so the pop-up cycle lanes are no longer needed for their original purpose.”

Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, added: “The schemes fulfilled their main objectives of offering people dedicated space to cycle rather than using public transport, or to leave the car at home and use their bike instead.

“This was in response to the unique set of circumstances during the first national lockdown, including schools and colleges having been closed for months and vastly-reduced public transport capacity.

“The extraordinary environment that led to their installation no longer exists even though we are about to enter into a new national lockdown: schools and colleges are open, traffic volumes have increased and, although public transport capacity is not back to pre-March levels, it is significantly improved.”

The council said that the majority of feedback on the cycleways was negative, with increased congestion cited as a key issue.

Paul Tuohy, the chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, commented: “Removing cycleways because car traffic has increased is utterly wrongheaded. It's precisely because of the negative effects of escalating traffic that we need to redouble efforts to encourage walking and cycling by making them safer.

“The alternative – people switching from public transport to cars – will land us with traffic gridlock, higher carbon emissions, worse air pollution, and dangerous streets that put people off walking and cycling.”

In September, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that emergency measures to improve active travel were, “hugely popular with the silent majority.”

However, a month later he wrote to councils to say that far too many temporary cycle lanes were being left unused, and that they were leaving traffic, “backed up alongside them.”

“We all want to see the benefits that active travel brings to be realised, but poorly implemented schemes will make no friends for the policy or more broadly for active travel,” said Shapps.

“Schemes must balance the needs of cyclists and pedestrians with the needs of other road users, including motorists and local businesses.

“I want to be absolutely clear,” he added. “We are not prepared to tolerate hastily introduced schemes, which will create sweeping changes to communities, without consultation, and ones where the benefits to cycling and walking do not outweigh the dis-benefits for other road users.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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ballanad | 3 years ago
1 like

To be fair the bike lanes in Chichester were unbelievably terrible. The design was so poor half of what was segregated wasn't used by anyone. The gaps between the bollards meant it was easier to stay in the main road. So all this did was block out half the road to sit there unused by anyone. 
I'm all for well designed bike lanes. Despite what the stupid mayor says they can lead to so many new cyclists getting on the road. But, all these poorly design lanes did was make cyclists the targets for bucket loads of hatred from the rest of the city. The traffic was pretty awful fir zero benefit. They can't have been designed by anyone who cycles. I'm glad they're going tbh.
Or maybe this was the plan in the first place. Now they can say they tried bike lanes and they didn't work. 

markieteeee replied to ballanad | 3 years ago

May I ask, is it a tory-led council?

ballanad replied to markieteeee | 3 years ago

Oooh yes. It sure is. Very much so

David9694 replied to ballanad | 3 years ago

Chichester - lovely town and a classic example of how the traffic planners have tried their best over many years. Is anyone now happy with the result?

alchemilla | 3 years ago

This is all the fault of Grant Shapps. First he hands out money saying it has to be spent within weeks on pop-up cycle lanes, leaving local authorities no time to consult on where they should go, or to explain why they're being installed to the motoring majority. Then a few weeks later he sends out a letter to the same local authorities saying "we are not prepared to tolerate hastily introduced schemes...without consultation ...etc" when they were only following government instructions in the first place . Of course no one except cyclists like them because there needs to be consultation before schemes like this will be accepted.
Then he has the cheek to add that these schemes must 'balance the needs' of all road users. No Grant Shapps, the point was, they were to prioritise cycle traffic and pedestrians over motor traffic. Boris envisioned a golden age of cycling, perhaps those two need to have a talk as there seems to have been a misunderstanding.

eburtthebike | 3 years ago

But hang on, the government have just announced another lock down, so the circumstances are the same now as what they were when the cycle lanes were installed.  Apart from that, everything the council says makes sense.

I need to lie down.  Under a duvet with a pillow over my head.  Let me know when it's safe to come out.

Hirsute replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago

Everyone has to be driven to school is the big difference.

There are also a lot of fridge freezers to move on a daily basis.

brooksby | 3 years ago

I'm confused.  So, these councils all put in pop-up cycle lanes to make newbie cyclists feel safer.  But as soon as motor traffic starts increasing to levels last seen Before Covid, they remove all the lanes again?  How does that work, then...?

Hirsute replied to brooksby | 3 years ago

How else am I going to make that < 3km trip?

Awavey replied to brooksby | 3 years ago
1 like

More to the point do the wheels of politics move so slowly in West Sussex they havent noticed they (and the rest of us in England) are right back in that extraordinary environment again.

Certainly the roads are quieter than they have been in East Anglia,not quite March levels,more like end of April I think,but i saw plenty out riding bikes today.

Daveyraveygravey | 3 years ago

I almost want there to be traffic jams everywhere, just so these knuckle dragging idiots realise it isn't bikes that are the problem!  

Locally, the pop up cycle lane on the Old Shoreham had potential, but they didn't finish coning it off, there were the usual arseholes that had to park in the lanes, and the lanes themselves could have done with being a bit wider.  I didn't have to pass another cyclist, but I would have had to have come out of the lane should I wanted to.  Also, there was the usual gravel/glass/muck in the bike lane, and to avoid that meant getting quite close to the cones in places.

David9694 replied to Daveyraveygravey | 3 years ago

Depressing. Ever more pressure to carve up the land/town scape to "sort the traffic" - just one more widening, one more roundabout will fix it. 

BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to Daveyraveygravey | 3 years ago

'I almost want there to be traffic jams everywhere, just so these knuckle dragging idiots realise it isn't bikes that are the problem!'

The problem is they won't. The congestion will increase but it will never be the fault of motor vehicles. 

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