A petition for high-quality protected cycle lanes on the Old Shoreham Road in Hove has been signed by over twelve hundred people.
A group of parents started the petition, headed by mum-of-two Pascale Palazzo from Hangleton, who was outraged when the temporary cycle lanes that had enabled her son to get to school safely were removed.
As a specialist in eating disorders and obesity, Pascale is well aware of the health impact of excessive car use and the health benefits of active travel, but her main concern is practical. ‘A child bus pass costs over £30 a month, so cycling can save parents a lot of money. Children obviously don’t drive and 40% of residents in Brighton and Hove don’t have a car. We all need and deserve the option of safe, cheap, efficient transport.’
Since the cycle lanes were removed in September this year, a group of parents has begun a ‘bike train‘, where adults and children cycle together, for safety and company.
Portslade father Daren Callow has been involved in the bike train since its beginning. ‘It’s great fun with music and a chance to catch up before school, but it’s a sticking plaster, not a replacement for infrastructure that would allow these trips to be made safely every day, and reduce school run traffic.’
From the moment the temporary lanes were installed in May 2020, a number of councillors campaigned for their removal, citing different reasons as time went on. This echoes cycling and walking schemes across the UK, which have met with similar resistance. Despite a report from the council stressing that the cycle lanes brought no detrimental effects and that their removal would have a far-reaching negative impact on safety and wellbeing, councillors voted to remove them. Because there was no evidence of detrimental impact, the Department of Transport punished Brighton & Hove City Council by docking thousands of pounds worth of funding.
The Old Shoreham Road is an essential route for thousands of people who live in the west of the city – many journeys are simply impossible without it. Government cycling policy says that cycle routes must be ‘direct and go where people want to go’, and that they must be physically separated from volume traffic. This means that without cycle lanes, the Old Shoreham Road flouts government policy to reduce car dependency and congestion, while improving air quality, public health and quality of life.
A complaint levelled by some opponents was that the temporary cycle lanes were not always full. This is a catch-22. Until the city as a whole is considered safe for most people to cycle – and not diehard cycling enthusiasts – cycling rates will remain relatively low. By way of comparison, wheelchair ramps on public buildings may not often be used, but they make an immeasurable difference to some people’s lives, and it’s hard to imagine others campaigning for their removal.
Most of the complaints about the cycle lanes were in fact related to the negative impacts of vehicle use – noise, pollution, lack of safety. This is why the government has undertaken to reduce car use in cities and provide healthy, cheap alternatives.
The Old Shoreham Road is a key route in the city’s Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), which is currently in the early stages of public consultation. This plan is needed in order to secure government funding for improvements to walking and cycling.
Click here to sign the petition for permanent cycle lanes on the Old Shoreham Road.
The Old Shoreham Road bike train runs on Friday mornings, with pick-up points between Hangleton Road and Hove Park. Click here for more information.