East Sussex Country Council turns down Covid-19 schemes in Seaford and Newhaven

In a meeting on Monday 17th August it was decided to not proceed with the plans that East Sussex County Council submitted to the Depart of Transport for funding in both Seaford and Newhaven.

Unfortunately after we provided three sets of proposed improvements none were included in any of the emergency measures. Therefore there will be no emergency measures to support walking and cycling in the Lewes District Council area from the first Tranche of funding.

You will find the meeting agenda here with officer recommendations:
https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/documents/g4751/Public%20reports%20pack%2017th-Aug-2020%2010.00%20Lead%20Member%20for%20Transport%20and%20Environment.pdf?T=10

You will find our initial suggestions here:
https://cycleseahaven.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/cycleseahaven-temporary-measures.pdf

As you can imagine this is very disappointing to everyone involved and frankly quite surprising. The Secretary of State for Transport Grant Schapps and the Department for Transport were both asking for councils to do whatever they can to make it safer to walk and cycle.

I’m still hoping that we will get the additional cycle parking – although at this point I can’t get any information!

Cycle Seahaven member Councillor Carolyn Lambert commented:

“Some parts of Lewes, including Seaford, will receive no benefit from this funding.  If the money is not spent, then the government will claw it back which would be a huge missed opportunity.  Cycle Seahaven, one of the biggest cycling groups in the county, has put forward some perfectly achievable proposals, including some for simple signage, which seem to have been discounted.  I hope that the County Council will re-consider its approach and listen to local residents”.

Exceat Bridge Consultation

East Sussex County Council are currently developing a plan to replace the existing bridge at Exceat with a new two-lane two-way bridge. I will be putting together a considered response from Cycle Seahaven, so if you have any comments you can send them my way (campaigns@cycleseahaven.org.uk). Alternatively there is a survey at the link below if you wish to respond directly.

I know what I think already – but it would be good to hear a range of opinions from users of the current bridge.

“We write to advise you of the Public Engagement Exercise for the Exceat Bridge Replacement project.  The Planning Authority (South Downs National Park) recommend that this event takes place now and the responses will be used to inform the ongoing design.  The planning application will be submitted in early 2021 and we anticipate a decision from the South Downs National Park Authority in summer 2021.

The engagement starts on 13th July, and will run until 7th August; due to the current climate, it will be conducted online only.  Posters are positioned around the Exceat Bridge and Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor’s Centre signposting people to details of the engagement, which can be found here: ”
https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/economy-transport-environment/exceat-replacement-bridge-project/

 



Update 14/08/2020

Thanks to everyone who commented. Comments have been collated and sent to East Sussex Highways. Hopefully I’ve captured them all.

You will see that the general feeling is that cycling has been ignored in the designs and should taken into account before the full consultation next year.

Download the comments document here

Safer Highway Code for cycling and walking

Cycling UK have been closely involved in pre-consultation on proposed changes to the Highway Code that would make cycling and walking safer.

The proposals include:

  • The introduction of the ‘Hierarchy of Users’ or ‘Hierarchy of Responsibility’, recognising that road users who pose greater risks to others ought to have a higher level of responsibility.
  • Simplification of the rules relating to non-signalised junctions, which will make junctions safer and address ‘left-hook’ collision
  • New rules to tackle dangerous overtaking and ‘close passes’, with a guideline minimum safe passing distance of 1.5m
  • The inclusion of the Dutch Reach, to help prevent ‘car-dooring’

These are just some of more than 50 changes, and we’ve highlighted 10 key changes which we need you to support to help make our roads safer. If adopted, these new rules could help address many of the everyday problems all cyclists face on the roads, and would help educate all drivers, feeding into driving lessons and tests, and help the police better enforce driving which puts people cycling and walking at risk.

Much more information on the Cycling UK website: https://www.cyclinguk.org/safer-highway-code-cyclists

Click here to support the campaign

Sustrans National Cycle Network update

Sustrans are updating the National Cycle Network to make it more accessible and provide a consistent user experience.

Rather than a single classification they have two:

  • Traffic-free route on the National Cycle Network
  • On-road route on the National Cycle Network

The traffic free routes are perfect for families and those new to cycling (orange on map), the on road routes are for tourers and those more experienced (blue on map). The idea is to try and increase the orange routes and give people the confidence to ride “creating paths for everyone”.

Additionally, about 4.5% of the Network, which comprises of 753 miles of busy on-road sections, have now been taken off the map, with no signage assigned, as they fall too far short of the quality standards Sustrans aspires to.

The changes are part of a long-term UK-wide plan for the National Cycle Network to double the miles of traffic-free routes from 5,000 to 10,000 and make the Network better and accessible for everyone.

Sustrans only owns around 500 miles, or 4%, of the Network. The rest belongs to various landowners, who are ultimately responsible for their own stretch. 

See the map here: https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ncn

Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans said:

“The National Cycle Network is a vital part of the UK’s green infrastructure, connecting people to places and to one another, providing family-friendly spaces and boosting local economies. The move to differentiate paths and routes will help us offer more targeted and relevant information on the paths for everyone choosing to walk, cycle and wheel.

“It’s also an opportunity to promote routes as leisure cycling destinations in their own right and build the UK’s cycle touring offer to both domestic and international audiences. In times of public health crisis and climate crisis, travelling actively has never been more important. Together, we can move towards our 2040 vision of paths for everyone.”

Studies have shown trips on the National Cycle Network generate around £88 million for the UK economy through reduced road congestion and contribute £2.5 billion to local economies through leisure and tourism each year. Another good reason for more safe paths!

Confirmation of Emergency Active Travel Fund

This morning I attended latest Lewes District Council Cycling Forum.

I was pleased to hear that East Sussex County Council was awarded all the tranche 1 Emergency Active Travel Funding applied for from the Department for Transport.

This means that we will receive several 10 bike cycle racks in the Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven area.

Planning is also underway to improve the shared path at the A259 near Bishopstone and provide an improved cycle path between Newhaven and Peacehaven.

There is a short timeframe to get this work completed (part of the funding requirements of the DfT). We should see things happening by the end of the summer.

This is emergency funding to make cycling and walking easier during the pandemic. I hope that once the benefits are established these changes can become permanent.

We will be working with other local groups to campaign for further improvements with the second larger fund. Funding will be limited – but it will be a good opportunity to push forward some changes.

If anyone has any specific suggestions they would like me to investigate please let me know.

New cycleway proposed between Peacehaven and Newhaven (Article from Sussex Express)

A new cycleway between Peacehaven and Newhaven is part of proposals to increase cycling and walking and provide safe spaces for social distancing across the Lewes district.

Having worked with district and borough councils and sought suggestions from local cycling and walking groups to identify possible temporary schemes, East Sussex County Council has submitted the measures for approval by the Department for Transport.

Among the schemes are cycle routes, improved signage for safe social distancing, temporary cycle parking and the widening of footpaths and road closures to allow people to social distance and to support businesses to open outdoor spaces and enable their customers to queue safely.

In the Lewes district a temporary segregated cycleway along the A259 between Peacehaven and Newhaven is proposed as well as speed reduction measures and widening of shared footpath along the A259 between Bishopstone to Marine Drive in Seaford.

The footpath along the High Street and School Hill in Lewes would also be widened.
East Sussex has been allocated £479,000 from the first round of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund. A second round of funding is expected to be confirmed at a later date.

Claire Dowling, the county council’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “With a limited amount of funding, we are unable to submit all the schemes that came forward. The measures we are submitting for approval strike a careful balance between supporting businesses in their recovery and keeping the public safe.

“While we have submitted specific schemes, we have also put forward countywide measures that will enable more walking and cycling across key towns, market towns and village centres and encourage social distancing.

“We have already seen a significant increase in the number of people walking and cycling in the county and, if approved, the schemes that are put forward will make a real difference to those people choosing active ways to travel and exercise.”

Cllr Dowling added: “We will announce more details of the successful measures once approved by the Department for Transport, and undertake further local consultation.

“We will continue to work with district and borough councils and partners to look at possible schemes to include in the second round of funding, which could include bringing forward agreed capital schemes and measures we haven’t been able to include in this submission.”

It is hoped that, if approved, the schemes will be in place by September.

Emergency active travel fund

 

Press release from ESCC:

We’ve been allocated funding from the Government’s emergency active travel fund. We’ll use the grant to support town centres and high streets, and to provide temporary measures on some routes to enable people to walk or cycle more to work or for leisure.
 
Although the government grant is still to be confirmed, the first indicative allocation for East Sussex is £479,000, with a further £1.96m potentially available at the next funding application stage. This could amount to £2.3m of funding.
 
——-
 
We will be talking to the council to try and find out where this funding being spent. It’s important they use the experience of local cyclists when making their decisions!

Ask your council for cycle space during lockdown…

Decision time. Cartoon showing the potential future for walking and cycling.
We’re currently in conversation with both local and district councils about emergency measures for cyclists whilst social distancing is in place. 

If you want to get behind the camapign Cycling UK have put together a draft email to send to the council!
https://action.cyclinguk.org/page/59646/action/1?ea.tracking.id=web

We need councils to act now to create space for social distancing, and we’ve already secured funding from Governments across the UK to help them do it – now we need you to ask your local authority to make changes.

Cartoon by the very talented @davewalker

 

Cycling during Covid-19

It’s been brilliant seeing so many more people cycling and walking at the moment. An unforeseen issue is the lack of space, especially with the required social distancing.

On 9 May, Transport Secretary Grant  Shapps announced:

“Fast-tracked statutory guidance, published today and effective immediately, will tell councils to reallocate roadspace for significantly-increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.” 

(https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking)

I have a short window of opportunity (ideally before Friday 15th May) to put forward suggestions highlighting problem areas / routes in the Peacehaven, Newhaven & Seaford areas.

Of particular importance will be paths where there are no easy alternatives – but not enough room to pass with 2m distance. This could be because they are narrow or just really busy now.

If you have any comments either leave them below or send directly to me: campaigns@cycleseahaven.org.uk

Thanks

Simon

 


Update 01/06/2020

The gathered responses were submitted to ESCC (see document below). There was a very short space of time to produce this document so I tried to make a compelling case for each request.

Download pdf here – Temporary transport measures as result of Covid-19

There are also many more solutions which the council could choose to implement which are already laid out by Sustrans in the Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan. As this is only in draft stage I’ve been told I can’t share this with everyone yet. These have been excluded from the below document as they are already there for consideration by the council.

As soon as I hear more I will let you all know.