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Are our councillors positive or negative about cycling?

We’ve looked at press statements made by Brighton & Hove councillors on cycling infrastructure since the start of the pandemic. We’ve stuck to the Argus, as it’s the local newspaper with the highest circulation.

The articles are linked below. We’ve assessed them by political party.

Labour

9 positive statements, 20 negative statements

Greens

13 positive statements, no negative statements

Conservatives

1 positive statement, 13 negative statements

This adds up to 23 positive press statements on cycling and 33 negative statements.

Labour have issued the most press statements on cycling by far. They began with mostly positive statements, but by late August 2020, had switched to negative messaging and announced they wanted active travel measures scrapped, pending further consultation. This is surprising, given their manifesto commitments to decarbonisation and active travel.

The Conservatives have issued only one positive statement. This is surprising, given that the move to increase active travel has come from the Conservative government.

The Greens have only issued positive statements. This is in line with their manifesto pledges on decarbonisation and active travel.

What’s striking in the articles we’ve reviewed is how many times councillors missed an opportunity to remind the public of the policy basis for active travel, or current safety issues with cycling.

There are many claims of increased congestion and pollution, but no evidence basis is given in any of these articles.

Councillors have huge sway over the opinions of residents. What’s clear from these press statements is that some councillors are shaping residents’ views with their own negative views, and are failing to correct myths and misunderstandings. They then present these residents’ views as a reason to remove safe cycling infrastructure.

10 May 2020: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18439297.uks-first-covid-cycle-lane-dual-carriageway-open-brighton/

OSR cycle lane announced, to help people travel without using cars. Anne Pissaridou (Lab) and Pete West (Green) welcome it. Readers’ poll: majority in favour of making it permanent.

12 May: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18441494.letter-cyclists-pain-walk-hove-lagoon/

Peter Atkinson complains about the behaviour of cyclists in Hove.

No mention of the lack of safe cycling infrastructure.

12 May: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18441764.coronavirus-calls-cycle-lanes-brighton-hove/

Chris Henry: Cycle lanes are not needed on the Old Shoreham Road. Old Shoreham Road works fine as it’s already a shared space.

Dawn Barnett: It’s going to be absolute madness, it’s taking up half the road.

No references from councillors about lack of cycling safety or the rationale for the temporary lanes.

16 May https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18453471.brighton-roads-pedestrianised-roads-given-cyclists/

General plans for cycling throughout city

Conservative group leader Steve Bell welcomed much of what was proposed, saying that it was rooted in Government advice.

19 May https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18458125.column-thanks-heading-right-direction/

Nancy Platts: Council wants to rethink how much space is given to motor vehicles in future

23 May https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18468070.vision-car-free-city-centre-brighton-hove/

Anne Pissaridou: Cycle lanes are important because of climate change. Sets out rationale for temporary cycle lanes.

2 June: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18487874.letter—great-strides-move-away-car-use-brighton-hove/

Anne Pissaridou: We’re making progress in improving walking and cycling

8 June: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18502192.brighton-roads-close-cars-like-madeira-drive/

Anne Pissaridou & Nancy Platts: improving cycling infrastructure is a great thing

23 June https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18535148.signs-hove-seafront-aim-stop-cyclists-flouting-ban/ Carmen Appich and Chris Henry share pictures of themselves next to huge no-cycling signs on Hove Promenade.

No mention of the need for safer infrastructure or its policy basis.

23 June https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18536046.proposals-brighton-roads-closed-major-changes/

Anne Pissaridou: we are supporting active travel

24 June https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18537856.brighton-bike-lane-approved-along-a259-seafront-road/

Lee Wares: criticises lack of monitoring of OSR

Pete West: this response is disappointing

Gary Wilkinson: cycling is good for health and decarbonisation

24 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18670892.environment-chief-brighton-hoves-new-cycle-lanes/

Pete West: cycle lanes are good for public health and economy

24 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18670895.labour-mp-peter-kyle-brighton-hove-cycle-lane-anger/

Peter Kyle: talks about anger between cyclists and drivers but does not address the need for change or acknowledge existing safety issues.

Does not mention government policy or any empirical research apart from own experience.

25 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18673443.disabled-groups-say-not-consulted-cycle-lanes/

Pete West: the Greens acknowledge disabled groups’ difficulties with A259 cycle lane

26 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18676558.we-talking-electric-cars-not-just-bikes/

Chris Henry: car use is not going to decrease, despite current measures. Claims that ‘one group is being given dominance’.

No research basis given for these claims.

No acknowledgment of the government’s strategy to reduce car use and increase active travel, or of current safety issues with cycling.

26 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18677337.part-a259-brighton-seafront-cycle-lane-will-removed/

Pete West: we’re trying to increase cycling and walking

Lee Wares: the council ‘refuses to undertake the necessary impact assessments… and proper consultation’ (does not acknowledge that these rules were set by the government, not BHCC)

28 August https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18682366.labour-councillors-rebel-criticise-seafront-cycle-lane-taxi-trade/

Jackie Quinn, Chris Henry, Peter Atkinson, Carmen Appich and Les Hamilton say on behalf of taxi drivers that cycle lanes are causing ‘mayhem’ and ‘misery’.

No reference to the policy basis for cycle lanes or mention the lack of cycling safety or the government’s active travel strategy and instead state that the lanes are merely there to aid social distancing.

No statistical basis put forward for these claims.

1 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18688599.conservative-transport-spokesman-hits-labour-cycle-lane-rebels/

Lee Wares: Calls for Labour ‘rebels’ to lobby the rest of Labour to reject cycle lanes

1 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18688626.cyclists-using-old-shoreham-road-figure-questioned/

Les Hamilton: Usage of the cycle lane is tiny and any increase will seem large. No reference to the need for cycling safety.

2 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18689750.bricycles-says-need-bike-lanes-brighton-hove/

Pete West: We need to improve cycling safety

2 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18691315.part-removal-brighton-a259-seafront-cycle-lane-cost-3-000/

Lee Wares: Every emergency active travel measure should be stopped and those planned should not go ahead

5 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18700353.protesters-call-brighton-council-stop-war-motorists/

Pete West: explains rationale for active travel measures

9 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18707090.brighton-residents-encouraged-walk-cycle-commutes-school-runs/

Pete West: explains rationale for active travel measures

9 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18707777.labour-halt-expansion-brighton-hove-cycle-lanes/

Gary Wilkinson: halt all active travel schemes and stop expansion

Lee Wares: we’re pleased to see Labour’s U-turn. They have brought chaos on the city.

11 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18713380.labour-come-senses-brighton-cycle-lanes/

Lee Wares: Labour have come to their senses by voting against cycle lanes.

Gary Wilkinson: Labour support carbon-neutral transport and a green recovery.

No mention of active travel or the need to improve cycling safety.

19 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18733395.labour-back-pedalling–say-cycling-campaigners/

Gary Wilkinson: Labour support safe, active travel measures.

23 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18740851.old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane-looks-set-amended/

Amy Heley: cycle lane amended in response to feedback. Active travel is important.

26 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18738495.listed-brightons-worst-roads-cyclists/

Amy Heley: we’re improving cycling safety with temporary cycle lanes

26 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18750425.old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane-survey-results/

Dawn Barnett: Nobody wants the cycle lanes on the OSR, nobody likes them and they’re not safe

(No evidence provided to support these claims)

Les Hamilton: Cycling numbers are low on the OSR and have been overstated

28 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18752604.call-investigation-brighton-council-cycle-lanes/

Lee Wares: The council needs to be investigated for possibly infringing equalities legislation over cycle lanes

30 September https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18758695.councillors-vote-keep-cycle-lane-old-shoreham-road/

11 December https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18937722.plans-underway-consultation-cycle-lanes-brighton-hove/

Amy Heley: sets out rationale for active travel

24 December https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18964757.cycle-lane-consultation-key/

Peter Atkinson: If the majority of residents don’t want cycle lanes, they should be removed.

No mention of the need for active travel or improved safety.

21 January 2021 https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19026479.brighton-hove-councils-deputy-leader-hit-cycle-lane/

Hannah Clare: I was hit by a van in the cycle lane. We need permanent lanes so this can’t happen.

30 January https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19049188.steve-bell-column/

Steve Bell: OSR cycle lane has caused congestion and pollution

No statistical basis provided for these claims.

11 February https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19078571.there-way-stop-rat-runs-brighton-hove/

Dawn Barnett: Removing cycle lanes will stop rat-running

No statistical basis provided to back up this claim.

19 February https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19103633.old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane-usage-data-questioned/

Lee Wares: The council has been misleading about OSR cycle lane data and the 61% increase is untrue

Council spokesperson: We have statistical evidence of a 61% increase.

28 May https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19336484.anti-brighton-council-protesters-gather-outside-hove-town-hall/

Robert Nemeth (in response to anti-cycle lane protest): The council has serious issues of competency, efficiency, democracy and accountability.

No reference to the need for safer cycling infrastructure or its policy basis.

6 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19424263.old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane-looks-set-scrapped/

Gary Wilkinson: Labour is choosing to remove cycle lanes on the basis of residents’ opinions.

No mention of the policy basis for cycle lanes, the need for greater safety or any statistics that back up residents’ opinions.

Green spokesperson: Labour’s move is irresponsible

14 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19442025.results-brighton-hove-consultation-road-layout-changes/

Amy Heley: Active travel is important. The government was clear that a consultation should not be used as a referendum.

16 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19447076.vision-improved-cycle-lane-old-shoreham-road/

Gary Wilkinson: Labour has listened to residents and is removing the cycle lanes as a result. This will bring the city together.

No mention of policy basis or need for safer cycling infrastructure. No mention of the funding implications of removing temporary lanes.

21 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19459726.old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane-set-removed/

Carmen Appich: The cycle lane has not worked and needs to be relocated.

No mention of policy basis or need for safer cycling infrastructure. No mention of the funding implications of removing temporary lanes.

Robert Nemeth: Cyclists are now bullied, attacked and punishment-passed as a result of temporary cycle lanes.

No statistical basis for this claim, or reference to the existence of these problems before temporary cycle lanes were introduced.

Jamie Lloyd: Labour don’t care about vulnerable road users.

23 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19462863.twitter-spats-vote-scrap-hove-cycle-lane/

Labour spokesperson: Residents told us the cycle lanes weren’t working.

No explanation of what ‘weren’t working’ means.

25 July https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19467169.residents-pleased-scrapping-old-shoreham-road-cycle-lane/

Labour and Conservatives join residents to celebration the removal of the cycle lane.

Dawn Barnett: They put it in overnight, so they should remove it overnight.

Nick Lewry: No residents were consulted

Jamie Lloyd: Children have been telling us not to remove the cycle lanes.

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