ESCC response to Cycle Seahaven’s cycle route proposals for Newhaven

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have proposed some new cycle lanes linking Newhaven and Peacehaven, which sounds great. However we are concerned that these proposals are mainly on steep and narrow roads, so would do little for the take-up of cycling. You can see our counter-proposals here:

ESCC have responded to the above:

Thank you for your email.

Further to the consultation various elements of the proposals are being taken forward for detailed design and construction. As you know we had a limited budget for Newhaven as the LSTF funding had to be used in Eastbourne too. I have attached a link to the reports that went to our Lead Member for Transport and Environment in February. This was item 7 on the agenda and the report was approved. It sets out which elements are being progressed:

In terms of the route along Valley Road, this was considered as part of the feasibility study looking at routes between Peacehaven and Newhaven. There were issues on this route with land ownership and crossing Lewes Road and given the tight timescales of the LSTF funding this option was not put forward for consultation, however that does not mean it couldn’t be considered if further funding became available.

Background to LSTF and our campaign strategy
Our campaign list of priorities, which is now under review

2.5c Friday Night MTB ride report 21st March 2014

The 2C ride only had two people on the night so despite the fact that it would be more demanding for Paul and I and it would slow down the 3C a little, we decided to integrate the two rides into one for safety reasons. Knowing to be a lot slower than the 3c going uphill, we did went with an head start hopping to make it up cardiac at the same time as the 3c riders. We set up a good pace and went straight from the gates to the top of cardiac in one straight run reaching the top about 5mn before the first 3c riders. After a pause to recuperate we went all down to the 3rd craters were we decided to rejoin cardiac half way up while the 3c went down to the candy canes and up again. Once at the top of cardiac it was down via stumpy higher trails , very muddy as usual then one of my favourite trail Doris and Burt then up a step as hell muddy track to a set off on new trails to me. I was surprised how most of the trails had dried up ! Of course any trails holes were still very muddy, but in all the forest was drying very nicely. This was a result as after the ride, we did not have the usual major bike cleaning session and for me it was just a matter of brushing off a little mud of the bike and tyres Fantastic.
The 2C was out for 2 hours did 9 mls in 1.24 pedalling time, not bad going.
This Friday we are hoping to be back to our 2C ride level as long as we have our safety minimum of 3 riders.
Weather so far is looking good for Friday so I hope the numbers will be up!

Sunday Morning Ride to Horam – 16 March 2014

2014-03-16 09.00.32What luck! Wall to wall sunshine again,  just like last Sunday morning. This time fourteen members turned up at the Martello Tower for a ride to Horam. It catered for two groups of cyclists,  those who prefer to cycle at a ‘touring’ pace,  ie an average speed of 12 mph and those who prefer a ‘sportive’ pace,  ie between 15 and 17 mph. The plan was for the sportive cyclists to take a longer route,  the aim being to arrive at Wessons Café in Horam at about the same time as the touring cyclists.

At 9.00 am eight of the cyclists led by Dave Geering shot off,  their first challenge being to get up to Friston via Exceat. They regrouped at the pond then took off down through Jevington to Polegate and along to Westham. The Pevensey Levels still had some remnants of the Winter rain and mud and the road surface was unforgiving in places. It wasn’t long before they turned onto Grove Hill and climbed up to Horam. Wessons was very busy this morning with a high number of motorcyclists and getting a coffee meant queing for about 20 minutes. The touring group hadn’t arrived. Where were they?

They had set off at a more leisurely pace from the Martello Tower led by Clive Aberdour,  towards Litlington and Chapel Hill,  on the shorter version of the ride. There was a bit of a tail wind so it wasn’t long before they were climbing up Chapel Hill,  the only significant climb on this ride. It seemed steeper than last year;  this must have had something to do with the lack of training over the winter months due to the bad weather. A few more Sunday rides should see us back to full fitness!

After a breather at the top of Chapel Hill,  super view,  they descended through Wilmington,  crossed the busy A27 crossroads and then came to an abrupt halt as they spotted a rather excitable horse about 100 metres down the road. The horse had been startled by some noisy motor cyclists and,  rather than cut their engines and wait for the horse to pass,  continued along the road as the horse reared up and ploughed into a ditch. The rider did well to stay on the horse. After a long wait,  the horse calmed down and the rider indicated that it was OK to pass but it had been a tense situation. They continued to Hailsham,  then Grove Hill to Horam,  arriving at the cafe as the sportives were enjoying their coffees outside in the sun. 

The return journey took the sportive cyclists via Gun Hill and Upper Dicker,  passing St Bedes. There were plenty of horse riders in this neck of the woods and it was great to see so many other road sharers out and about. Chapel Hill reversed split the pack a little then annoyingly 2 punctures forced a regroup at Friston Forest entrance,  so close to home!

The tourers took a different return route passing through Muddles Green,  Chalvington,  Berwick and Lullington; an easy ride as it was mostly downhill or flat.

It had been another enjoyable Sunday morning ride;  it was great to see so many other cyclists on the roads. Next Sunday’s ride is to the Velo Café in Brighton. Let’s hope our luck continues with the good weather.

Dave and Clive


Avenue Verte Official Guide: Review

Avenue Verte Book Review_0001Since my previous update about the Avenue Verte I have studied the official guide in more detail and would advise anyone thinking of cycling to Paris along this route to take this excellent guide with them. 

It measures 17 x 12 cms and has 144 pages so is small enough to fit into a pocket yet is full of useful information. This includes directions,  route profiles,  accommodation addresses and detailed maps (1:10,000,  1:25,000 and 1:100,000) covering the entire route.

It’s spiral bound and folds back on itself so ought to be easy to use when on the ride. However,  there is a front cover which could prove to be a nuisance as it protrudes by about 3½ cms when the guide is folded back. It’s an attractive cover which opens up to show an overview map indicating the page numbers of the detailed maps so may be of use when familiarising oneself with the guide. It’s likely to get damaged on a ride when attempting to stuff the guide into a pocket so it may be better to dispense with the cover

The first few pages are the Introduction with the nitty-gritty starting on page 15 and continuing through to page 140. These pages are divided into twelve chapters,  each one being “based around a comfortable day’s ride” according to the guide. That’s not to say that it takes twelve days to cycle the entire route as it divides into two just south of Gournay. One branch,  known as the Western option,  goes through Gisors and Cergy. The other branch,  which is longer,  is known as the Eastern option and goes through Beauvais and Senlis. Therefore,  if you cycle from London to Paris using the shorter Western option it would take 8 days if you kept to the daily distances in the guide. They range from 23 to 42 miles so rather less than touring cyclists would achieve.

That’s not a problem as it doesn’t really matter where a chapter starts and finishes;  simply follow the directions until reaching your overnight stop which might be in the middle of a chapter. 

At the start of each chapter is ‘Route Info’ which gives information about the terrain and route surface followed by a diagram showing the ‘Profile’ of the route,  all useful stuff. The next section entitled ‘What to See &  Do’ makes for some interesting reading. This is followed by ‘Directions’ and ‘Accommodation’,  interspersed with clear and detailed maps which look really helpful. Also, there are some pictures of interesting places to be found en-route which may be worth visiting if there’s time.

All in all,  this looks to be an excellent guide to the Avenue Verte with just the right level of detail for route information. The fact that it is a compact size and spiral bound is a bonus although I’ll probably ditch the cover when I next cycle to Paris.

The guide is available from SUSTRANS for £12 plus £2.50 postage.

2.5c Friday Night MTB ride report 07 March 2014

At last we had a break in the weather and we managed to have our 3rd ride of 2014. I was expecting a very muddy Friston and decided to keep to lower trails knowing how muddy the top trails were a month and half ago. Despite the weather being fine on Friday, by night fall we had a strong mist soaking up every thing. We also had a new rider with us: Graham. This was going to be his first Night ride, certainly not ideal conditions, but he came fully prepared with bar and helmet lights! Ridding with us was also Roger and Paul, the other guys from our little gang were unable to join us for various reasons. We set up on the family trail up Jamies B/P and pick up the snow run then up cardiac to the moby, fairy trail down and up the gravel track to take the red down to the car park, we were out for about 1h40mn and just did under 6mls with about 1.10mn moving time. The lower trails were very slippery in places but in better condition that I expected. Every one stayed up, the filming I did was useless due to a fine mist on the waterproof camera lens and I could have done with some fog lamps as our high powered headlamps were not penetrating very well the mist! For what I understand Graham had a good time and will be joining us on future night rides.
See you on Friday weather allowing.

Sunday Morning Ride to Ovingdean, 9 March 2014

2014-03-09 Ovingdean Beach CafeWall to wall sunshine,  virtually no wind and the air feeling quite fresh,  ideal conditions for our Sunday morning ‘touring’  cycle ride to Ovingdean.  Six cyclists met at the Martello Tower at 9.00 am,  some having not cycled for two or three month due to the foul weather conditions over winter.

We headed west following NCN Route 2 to Newhaven. Already there were plenty of people out,  jogging,  walking or cycling through the Ouse Valley Nature Reserve on this fine Spring morning.  We took our usual diversion through Newhaven via Valley Rd and then through the back roads of Peacehaven following Route 2.  It wasn’t long before we were at Saltdean and descending down the slip road to the undercliff path.

The wide concrete path at the base of the cliffs is usually a joy to cycle along but this morning it proved to be a bit challenging.  There were stones everywhere,  having been thrown up by the winter storms;  surely they should have been cleared up by now!  It was good to see so many children riding their bikes or scooting along the path although it certainly slowed our progress.  But,  we weren’t in a hurry and we hadn’t got far to go;  we soon reached the Beach Café at Ovingdean which was doing a brisk trade this morning.  Sally conjured up a vacant table where we sat enjoying the warmth of the sun over a cuppa.  It may be early Spring but it felt more like early summer!

Our return trip to Seaford was along the same route which was mostly easy going except for the steep incline up the slip road at Saltdean.  It’s only short,  probably about 100 metres,  but we needed a breather at the top! Well,  it is early in the cycling season after all.

We were back at the Martello Tower well before Noon.  It had been a round trip of about 24 miles and very enjoyable;  let’s hope this superb weather continues so we can get out for more fine Sunday morning cycle rides.

Helmet cams and police evidence

With the reduction in price and weight of helmet cameras we are seeing more and more evidence of ‘questionable’ road use being posted to such sites as YouTube and Vimeo. At Cycle Seahaven’s meeting with our Police and Crime Commissioner (Katy Bourne) we were advised that cyclists DO NOT publish video evidence of aggressive and dangerous behaviour. Instead, such evidence should be reported to your local policing team. Online publishing of such video evidence makes it very hard for police to pursue a case.

Be polite and be safe.