The Argus has reported that plans to extend a seafront cycle lane from the cliff top path at the east end of Marine Parade to the Palace Pier at the Western end have been scrapped due to safety and budgetary concerns. Local cyclists had requested the route’s feasibility be investigated, however the Aquarium Roundabout was considered a barrier to the scheme, given the expense of incorporating it safely into the proposed cycle route.
The proposed route along Marine Parade would have run parallel to the existing Madeira Drive cycle route below on the promenade. However the Madeira Drive route previously came in for criticism from a wide range of cycling groups via the City Cycle Forum, where the Council meets representatives from local cycling and transport groups. The criticism was based on the fact that the Madeira Drive route serves very few local cyclists as there are no entry/exit points onto the route between either end of a very long stretch of road, so unless you’re cycling from Whitehawk or the Marina into town or back, it doesn’t do much for the large population of Kemptown or East Brighton. A route on Marine Parade was considered far more preferable, which would connect major employers like the NHS Trust, Sussex Police and American Express to the National Cycle Network and encourage utility cycling among the large population of Kemptown and surrounding areas.
In light of budget cuts it comes as no great surprise that major changes to the Aquarium Roundabout could not be considered at this time. However, the Council has previous form in scrapping cycle routes that require engineering projects which go beyond the heady heights of painting lines on roads. Two other axed schemes in recent years which went to public consultation, gained widespread support but were subsequently abandoned included the reinstatement of the North Street Quadrant cycle lane which connected the Churchill Square shopping centre to the Railway Station (its removal drove cyclists towards the only alternative route, the narrow and pedestrianised Air Street), and a new cycle route along Old Shoreham Road that got the axe due to a few tricky junctions and bridges. It will be interesting to see whether the Council will reconsider this particular scheme in a few years’ time when the financial situation improves; on previous form we think not. However, we challenge the Council to prove us wrong!