Radical overhaul of city’s streets to encourage more cycling and walking

Radical changes to city streets including road closures and a new temporary cycle lane for miles along the seafront were approved tonight (Tuesday, June 23).

Friday, 26th June 2020, 10:23 am

Labour and Green members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee agreed to introduce the lane on the A259 between the Aquarium roundabout and the city’s western boundary.

It was one of 29 new or potential changes to pavements and road layouts across the city as part of the Interim Covid-19 Response Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).

However, Conservative councillors Lee Wares and Vanessa Brown voted against the LCWIP, despite agreeing with many aspects of it.

During the virtual meeting via Skype on Tuesday, Councillor Wares said temporary measures to make Covid-19 better are likely to be “permanent” without proper process.

He said: “Never let a crisis go to waste. All that appears to use is happening is shoehorning in a stable full of Trojan horses.

“People are trying to get in everything they could never do in normal circumstances under the guise of Covid.”

He criticised the lack of monitoring of cycle traffic along the new Old Shoreham Road cycle lane and the introduction of a car-free city without the usual process.

Green councillor Pete West was “disappointed” with the Conservatives’ response, as he had put forward additional measures they supported, such as a commitment to developing the School Streets programme.

He said although it was an aspiration for these things to become permanent, everything had to go through the proper process.

Councillor West reminded the committee it was just over a year ago that he questioned why the city’s famous beach is topped with a dual carriageway, during election hustings.

He said: “Our realisation of a vision we set then of reallocating space to cyclists and pedestrians is upon us.

“How far we have travelled in just a year. These urgent measures to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians across the city and getting people moving again set the stage for the longer term.”

Committee deputy chair, Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson backed Councillor West who said: “The potential benefits of the changes of the interim report going forward are myriad.

“Study after study has shown walking and cycling improve physical and mental health, builds more resilient communities, dramatically reduces air pollution, and can go somewhere towards decarbonising the transport system.”

The planned A259 cycle lane converts the nearside westbound lane for cyclists with the existing cycle lane dedicated to eastbound cyclists.

Access to loading bays and disabled bays will be maintained.

However, 60 per cent of seafront parking will go in the first phase to allow for the new layout.

The monthly cost of lost parking from the A259 cycle lane is expected to be more than £27,000.

The committee also agreed to keep Madeira Drive closed temporarily.

Keeping Madeira Drive closed also has challenges including access for disabled blue badge holders and concern about the viability of businesses along the road.

Full closure of Madeira Drive results in more than £108,000 in lost parking revenue each month.

Assistant director for city transport, Mark Prior confirmed during the meeting that any long-term closure would take the focus off vehicle-based events.

However, the report said this closure is unlikely to continue for the long-term in its current form.

A new cycle lane is planned between the A23 and Cheapside, to link the National Cycle Network with the Valley Gardens Scheme.

The authority is also monitoring West Sussex’s plans for cycling along the Old Shoreham Road between Shoreham and Southwick.

The 3.4mile cycle lane along Old Shoreham Road has its challenges when dealing with junctions and narrow, single-lane sections.

An experimental traffic regulation order covering The Lanes will close the north end of Black Lion Street and close Ship Street at the North Street Junction.

Market Street and East Street restrictions continue as they are with loading, blue badge holders and private access permitted at all times.

Queens Road between North Street and the Clock Tower, and West Street, will close to southbound traffic, except for buses, taxis and bicycles, as part of an experimental traffic order.

Gardner Street is to close on weekdays. Work will get underway also to close or partly close Trafalgar Street, following consultation with businesses.

Negotiations are underway with traders to see if they would welcome closing Sydney Street in the week.

Introducing new cycle lanes and walking facilities is part of a government active travel strategy launched in May.

The council has submitted two bids for the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.

It expects £594,000 in the first tranche and a further £2,376,000 in the second to cover the costs of new travel measures.

An earlier motion put forward by Green councillor Amy Heley called for work to move forward to make the temporary measures put in place as part of the action plan permanent.

It received support from Green and Labour members with opposition from the Conservatives.

A public consultation is currently underway on the various changes already undertaken for walking and cycling in the city.

To participate people can click on icons on a map to give feedback on specific changes as part of the online consultation at consultations.brighton-hove.gov.uk/parking/covid-19-temporary-measures/

Petitions taking opposing views over the closure of Madeira Drive and the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane are due to go before the full council on Thursday, 22 July.

All four petitions have more than the required 1,250 signatures required for a full council debate.