When temporary cycle lanes were installed on the Old Shoreham Road last year, the campaign to remove them was immediate. The reasons changed on an almost daily basis: cyclists won’t use it, it’s too hilly, it’s too rainy, no one wants it, it’s bad for the emergency services, it’ll cause congestion, we weren’t consulted, we weren’t consulted properly, the route was chosen in a rush.
One by one, these reasons have been blown out of the water. People do use it. It’s not too hilly. Yes, fewer people cycle when it rains, but they still cycle. The lack of consultation and short timescale was a national condition imposed on all councils by the government. The emergency services aren’t affected. According to recent data, published by the council, average vehicle speeds remain unchanged, meaning that congestion has not increased. And around a third of people who cycle along the OSR have switched from driving.
The A270 was identified as a key cycling route many years ago as it’s an east-west artery and accesses many homes, shops and schools but councillors fought off attempts to install permanent cycle lanes.
In line with government guidance, Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) are drawing up a Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan. This identifies key cycling and walking routes, and public consultation will begin later this year. The Old Shoreham Road is an essential part of this. Latest DfT design guidance says that in urban areas, safe cycling routes need to be a minimum of 250 – 400 metres apart, and that these routes must be direct, and go where people need to go.
We’re a long way from that goal, but the OSR is a key part of an emerging network. In Hove, Blatchington Road, Portland Road, Cromwell/Davigdor Road and (New) Church Road, as well as key north-south routes will need to be made safe too.
Some politicians have been calling for temporary lanes on the OSR to be ‘relocated’ to another road, which shows they haven’t read the government’s guidance and don’t understand the concept of a network.
A network is only as strong as its weakest link. Without the Old Shoreham Road, there will be no cycling network in the west of the city, and thousands of people will never have the chance to cycle.
If you haven’t done so already, please write to local politicians to tell them why this route is so important, using our simple guide.