Removal of Old Shoreham Road cycle lane backed by Labour and Conservatives

Labour and Conservative councillors have banded together to remove the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane, to the dismay of the Greens.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 3:14 pm
The Old Shoreham Lane cycle lane being installed last spring

But before the lane is removed, a report must go before a special meeting of city councillors, before 11 August.

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson put the case for removing the lane but backed a redesign of Western Road, a park and ride at Mill Road, and moving forward with cycle lane designs for the A23.

With Conservative support, Labour also secured its amendment for consultation with businesses and residents into an extension to the A259 cycle lane.

He said: “The consultation was the true test of local opinion and despite its limitations, the residents that live there, have children there, work there and take great pride in their area have clearly said via the recent consultation that the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane is not needed.

“We are supporting nearly all the active travel changes and the extension of the temporary schemes we implemented and are simply asking that the experimental, temporary cycle lanes on the Old Shoreham Road are relocated to an alternative route that works better for all road users.”

More than 4,000 people responded to a public consultation about improving and extending the active travel schemes in the city, with more than 3,000 commenting both in favour and against the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane built in May 2020.

Alternatives to the current scheme councillors agreed to look into will include looking at Portland Road and New Church Road.

Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee chair Green councillor Amy Heley said she was “disappointed” in Labour and Conservative councillors for pushing to remove the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane during the special meeting on Wednesday (July 21).

She read out an email from a Hove Park resident who cycles two miles to school each day with their nine-year-old daughter, who would drive to school if it was not for the cycle lane.

They said: “She really enjoys riding her classic Raleigh Chopper bike and singing while peddling along. She is very proud of the independence it gives her as well as the comments from other riders and schoolmates about her bike.

“It is only because of the cycle lane that cycling to and from school has been possible as both my wife and I would not feel comfortable navigating the traffic while trying to guide our daughter as well.”

There is concern the council would lose out on future money from the government’s Active Travel Fund as West Sussex County Council was told it would not be able to bid for more money after it removed the Upper Shoreham Road cycle lane in Shoreham.

Labour councillor Nancy Platts was concerned whether the government would ask for its money back if the council removed the lane.

Assistant director for city transport Mark Prior said there was potentially no loss to the council from the £2.4 million Brighton and Hove secured from the government if the money could be spread across other schemes.

Whether the city will lose out in the future is likely to appear in the future report as transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said other authorities would see a reduction in their allowances if they followed West Sussex County Council’s lead.

Councillor Platts, who was leader of the council when the cycle lane was put in as part of wider emergency active travel measures during the first wave of the pandemic, said the volume of negative comments outweighed those who wanted to keep the lane.

Councillor Platts said: “People clearly feel strongly about all of this, it is a difficult decision for us as councillors, my heart is in having a cycle lane, I haven’t had a car for years.

“I’m gutted we might be pulling up the Old Shoreham Road or any cycle lane. I think every cycle lane helps to convert people.”

The consultation analysis raised concerns about the lack of children’s voices, as officers told councillors it was difficult to engage with schools during the January to March lockdown as the majority of children were working at home.

Committee deputy chair Jamie Lloyd said it was important for councillors to “take on board the point about hearing children’s voices”.

He said: “If you want to listen to the voices of children on the OSR bike lane, read the emails. All those children who are using it to get to school, and their parents, who would otherwise be driving.

“They’re the voice. Listen to that. Don’t do this.”

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth also secured backing for a report into proposals for a park and ride scheme at Mill Road from the summer of 2022, with the city council working in partnership with Brighton and Hove Buses.

He was concerned the project was reduced to a line in a series of recommendations when it deserved its own meeting.

Councillor Nemeth said the Old Shoreham Road lane has been “hated” since it opened, which is upsetting for cyclists.

He said: “A cycle lane on the Old Shoreham Road should never have been installed. It’s as simple as that.

“Such an idea – regardless of its merits and there are many – should not have been put forward without extensive public consultation, without the broad support of the elected representatives of the affected wards, and without consideration to the costs of removal, should it not be considered an attractive long-term prospect.

Councillors voted six to four to remove the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane before the committee unanimously voted for the 11 recommendations on the four active travel schemes.