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.

 

BBC News Report – Government to urge us all to walk and cycle more

We need to protect the public transport network as lockdown is lifted, the UK’s transport secretary is expected to say at a press conference on Saturday. The BBC understands Grant Shapps will encourage the public to continue to work from home if they can.

Image copyright JEFF OVERS

Those who need to travel to work will be urged to consider more active ways to travel like walking and cycling. Extra funding is likely to be announced for English local authorities to help alter road networks to facilitate this. The intention is to take the pressure off roads and public transport networks.

This is a devolved issue and in Wales, the assembly is suggesting a number of new policies including road and lane closures with filters for cyclists. Scotland announced funding for “active travel infrastructure” in April. No specific measures have been announced yet in Northern Ireland although the infrastructure minister is expected to appoint a cycling and walking champion.

It is believed that Mr. Shapps will talk about using the unique “opportunity” of the lockdown restrictions to change the way we get to work.

For more info click here

 

Digging out the old bike?

Artist Karl Jilg for the Swedish Road Administration

Artist Karl Jilg for the Swedish Road Administration

I was reading this article today from BBC’s environment analyst and it got me thinking…
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52564351

I’ve lived in my house for nearly 10 years. It’s on a quiet road on the outskirts of Seaford. I’ve never seen so many people cycling – and not just the regulars I see all the time. Young families, older people on 90’s mountain bikes, eBikers and even the odd cargo bike.

From speaking to friends it would seem that the lack of traffic is helping less confident cyclists to take to the road. I’ve been able to cross the normally dangerously fast and busy A259 with my children without the usual fear! My son HATES crossing the A259 at Bishopstone Road. He’s been so much happier when we go for family rides.

My question is what happens when we return to normal? Public transport usage is expected to drop until a vaccine is available – this is surely going to lead to a rise in individual car usage. An obvious answer is would be to make walking and cycling a safe and viable alternative to avoid extra pollution and gridlocked roads. But how?

One thing has been made very clear… our shared paths are simply not wide enough to social distance and we lack joined up cycling infrastructure. If we are to get people back on their bikes once the traffic increases then we really need to give novice and experienced cyclists alike safe places to ride. Bike riding shouldn’t be scary. You shouldn’t need to cycle defensively covered head to toe in high-viz. Popping to the shops for a pint of milk – the bike should be your first choice rather than the car.

The benefits are all to well known to us cyclists… health, well-being and environmental. We just need a strong grass-roots movement to ask for support to make this a reality.  We can’t do this on our own though. Support from local councils and government bodies will be required to make changes a reality.

I’ll be having conversations with the council over the coming months about the developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). I’ll make sure I keep everyone updated as I know more!

I’d be interested to know what you think… what could be done locally to get more people on their bikes?

Egrets Way Ride – Sunday the 22nd of March from 2-5pm. 

The Egrets Way now runs to and through the Lewes Railway Land Nature Reserve

We are pleased to announce that the construction of the newest section of the Egrets Way network of shared paths has now been completed and that an opening celebration based at the Linklater Centre will be held on Sunday the 22nd of March from 2-5pm. 

This new path, which is available to all non-motorised users, extends the existing Egrets Way route from Ham Lane near the entrance to the Lewes Recycling Centre. It is 800 metres long and runs through a section of privately owned land before passing under the railway line and continuing through the Railway Land where it ends at Railway Lane near the centre of Lewes.  The funding for its construction was provided by the South Downs National Park, the EU Rural Enterprise (LEADER) Fund, Lewes Town Council and private donations made to the Egrets Way project. 

This ‘Signalling Spring’ event is being held in conjunction with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust who are, at the same time, celebrating the opening of their newly refurbished and repurposed Signal Box which has been transformed into a Wildlife Hide.  This will provide the opportunity for Railway Land visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful water meadows which are home to a host of wildlife.  A loft has also been built into the Hide to encourage bats to roost and nesting boxes have been fixed to the exterior to encourage swifts and swallows to roost there.  Cyclists will be able to use the dismounting point which is alongside the Hide. 

This joint celebration is intended to make people aware of the improved accessibility which the widened and sensitively surfaced route provides for users of all ages and capabilities. There will be a range of family-friendly activities on offer for everyone attending the celebration.

The Egrets Way 

Save your trails before they are lost for good

Over 10,000 miles of paths across England and Wales are at risk of being lost forever unless we make an effort to put them on the map. Cycling UK campaigns officer Sophie Gordon explains how we can save them before they disappear.

Whether you use them for riding, running or walking the dog, our public paths are a gateway to adventure – a way to take time out, connect with nature and explore new places. They bring to life our history and heritage, your path could be an old Roman road or a way used by pilgrims to travel to church. 

However, many of these routes that have been used for centuries aren’t officially recorded on the map, and if they aren’t added by the cut-off date of 2026, they could be lost forever. 

Identifying and recording these lost ways is a huge task, but by combining efforts with individuals and groups all over the country, you can help make sure they are put on the map. 

The clock is ticking 

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW Act) brought in several improvements to public access, like allowing open access on foot on some areas of land and promoting strategic planning of rights of way networks. It also introduced a cut-off date of January 2026 for any rights of way created before 1949 to

be added to the definitive map (the legal record of public rights of way), so the public right to use them would be officially recognised. If these historic paths are not recorded, the legal right to use them will be extinguished in 2026. 

Find out more about how we got to this point. 

Many historic paths may be in frequent use by the public already, but as they are not recorded as rights of way, the landowner is able to close them off at any time. Others might be forgotten and overgrown, but could potentially be a useful route. 

This is particularly significant for off-road cycling and horse riding due to the fragmented nature of the bridleway network. There are many places where adding historic rights of way to the map could form a crucial link between existing rights of way. 

There are other cases where rights of way were incorrectly recorded as footpaths but actually carry higher rights, for example where they were previously used as a road for horses and carriages. Making sure these are recorded correctly could open up more rights of way for cycling.

Adding rights of way to the map 

Proving that a right of way exists involves gathering evidence from historic maps. Any route shown on old maps as a public road or bridle path that doesn’t appear on current Ordnance Survey maps could be a contender. 

Ever spotted one of those odd bridleways that suddenly turn into a footpath at a parish boundary? Chances are the footpath was incorrectly recorded when the council first produced their definitive map, and actually carries higher rights. 

The more evidence you can find to support your claim, the greater the chance of success. Once you’ve gathered all your evidence, you can put in an application to the local authority for a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO). 

Then sit back and pat yourself on the back, but don’t hold your breath – councils have a large backlog of applications and some take years to go through. 

Help and resources 

Researching historic rights of way may seem like a bit of an undertaking, but the British Horse Society and Ramblers have produced some great information and online tools to help steer you through and make life easier.  

Rather than reinventing the wheel, we’ve gathered all the resources here in one place so they are easy to find. 

Changing the status of rights of way

Cycling UK’s briefing is a good place to start for an overview of the processes for recording and upgrading rights of way.

British Horse Society – Project 2026 

  • BHS’s Project 2026 is designed to help groups and individuals start researching and recording lost rights of way, and is as relevant for cyclists as it is for horse riders.  
  • Their Project 2026 toolkit is an excellent place to start for a step-by-step guide to researching historic routes. 
  • Once you’re ready to dive in, there is also a more detailed guide with everything you could wish to know about doing the research and making the application. 
  • To share information and avoid duplicating efforts, BHS has created a mapping tool to help gather evidence and mark routes that an application has been made for. 
  • Financial support is available to recover any costs incurred in researching and making an application, and there are also training sessions for a systematic approach to researching historic rights of way. Both of these are available for anyone researching lost routes, not just BHS members. 

The man behind all of this is Will Steel, BHS’ 2026 project manager. He told us why it is so essential that these routes are protected: 

“Project 2026 is so important as it could be our last chance to safeguard thousands of rights of way that will otherwise be lost at the cut-off date of 1 January 2026.  

“Protecting these routes will help people to get out and about – on a horse or bike, driving a carriage or walking – and experience the natural environment avoiding the ever-busier road network.   

“The missing routes can often be key links in the minor highway network that also provide an opportunity to meet wider objectives around active and sustainable travel. I would really encourage anyone interested to get involved before it is too late.” 

Ramblers – Don’t Lose Your Way campaign 

Jack Cornish, Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, explained his passion for lost rights of way and why you should get involved:  

“Our paths are one of our most precious assets. They connect us to our landscapes, and to our history and the people who formed them over the centuries.  

“If we lose our paths, a little bit of our past goes with them. This is our only opportunity to save thousands of miles of rights of way and time is running out.  

“Joining our group of citizen geographers is a really easy way to help and by doing so, you’ll become part of the movement that puts these paths back on the map for generations to come.” 

What’s the significance of 2026?

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 placed a legal requirement on all local authorities in England and Wales to create a definitive map of public rights of way in their area. This process took a long time (decades in some cases), and many rights of way were left off or incorrectly recorded.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 aimed to create some certainty by defining a date when the definitive maps would be deemed ‘complete’ and no more historic rights of way could be added. This was set as 1 January 2026. Any rights of way that existed before 1949 but have not been added to the definitive map by then will be extinguished and the public right to use them will be lost.

In 2001 the Government set up the Discovering Lost Ways project as a systematic research programme to ensure that the definitive maps would be fully complete by the cut-off date. However, the lengthy bureaucracy involved with processing claims for historic rights of way meant that six years later the project was deemed unviable, having not achieved very much in the time since. So the task of researching lost ways and submitting claims was left to volunteers.

The Deregulation Act 2015 was designed to make the process simpler, but five years later it still hasn’t been brought into effect.