Bikeshare comes to Brighton – Hills not included

A Big Thing for 2017 will be the Brighton Bikeshare public bike hire scheme. With a three year contract awarded to Hourbike, with bikes provided by Social Bicycles, the plan is to have them up and running by the summer.

Lady riding a Bikeshare bicycle

The Argus ran a fair piece on it, although (not unusually) it was marred by below the line nonsense which afflicts most Argus pieces. One area of comment followed the line that bikeshare schemes wouldn’t work here because Hills, and this perhaps deserves a bit of consideration.

Brighton is a hilly place, its true (though Hove less so), but there is no particular relationship between cycling levels and hills, with some hilly places having good cycling levels and some flat places having very poor bike takeup – for fuller consideration of this, see HERE and HERE.

The thing about our hills is that they are divided by valleys, and whilst not strictly the case, it is broadly true to say that people tend to live up the hills, and stuff happens in the valleys – or along the coast – also flat. So – for example – a cycling Hanoverian will may start their journey with a white knuckle ride down Southover St, but once at the bottom can make head to Shoreham, Patcham, Falmer or Saltdean meeting minimal incline; can breeze around the North Laine, Lanes, Western Road, Kemptown, Hove… similarly flatly. The only substantial hill met on the journey is likely to be on the homeward trek back up into the Hanover heights.

Heres a map of the Bikeshare operational area. Aside from a brief hike up to Seven Dials, all of the bike stations will be in the Brighton flatlands, meaning that residents and visitors alike will be able pick up a bike for an hour or a day, do the things they want to do and leave it at a dock at the bottom of a hill, and mosey on home, to the station or wherever.

 

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The thing which mostly influences the choice to cycle is not hills of their lack, but how safe people feel to cycle in our city – specifically how safe from collision with motor vehicles do people feel, and this is an aspect which is likely to be more significant.

Although we have some good bits and pieces around – the seafront cycleway, Old Shoreham Road, Lewes Rd (north of Gyratory) – our safe cycle network is patchy at best, and its disjointed illegibility will be a big disincentive for bikeshare use.

There is a solution though. Bricycles supports the Space for Cycling Campaign, which aims to create the conditions where anyone can cycle anywhere.

Cycle-friendly streets are people-friendly streets. We want everyone to enjoy the health benefits, improved air quality and community feel that Space for Cycling can bring – whether you choose to cycle or not.

We are calling on councils to create a network of cycle-friendly routes, so that anybody of any age or ability can enjoy their journey through the freedom of cycling.

To achieve this we have devised a three-point plan for councils to sign up to:

Plan –  Plan a full network of cycle-friendly routes that allow people of all ages and abilities to cycle anywhere for any purpose

Invest – Actively seek the funding to implement the network and invest a minimum of 5-10% of the local transport budget in cycling

Build – Build the network using the most up-to-date high quality design standards

Although our council also supports this campaign, there is – as yet – scant evidence that it has any substantial plans to invest in our network, but perhaps the BikeShare scheme will be just the catalyst needed to take on the task of making Brighton & Hove a truly cycleable city.

Tree Planting BikeRide – this weekend!

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This weekend, why not join a tree planting bike ride from Brighton to Langley Vale Wood in Epsom to help The Woodland Trust plant 7,000 native trees, including beech, rowan, hawthorn and oak?

Organised by TimeToCycle,  Brighton BikeTrain and the Woodland Trust, with food provided by the Brighton Real Junk Food Project, it s one of three rides descending on Langley Vale – the other two from London.

Leaving on Friday 20th Jan – 9.30 at the Level, you’ll finish the ride at Headley Village Hall where you’ll stay the night (Don’t forget your sleeping bag & mat). You’ll be served a delicious dinner prepared by The Real Junk Food Project.

Saturday morning will start with a breakfast prepared by The Real Junk Food Project before everyone heads out to Langley Vale Wood. There you will meet the The Woodland Trust team who’ll supply tools and saplings from 10am-3pm.

This event will plant 7,000 trees. Eventually, the Woodland Trust aims to plant 200,000 trees at Langley Vale Wood, and in February there will be a second tree planting bike ride so if you can’t make this one then do come along in February.

What will it cost?

The tree planting bike rides are not-for-profit. All the organisers donate their time for free.

  • £7.50 – Evening meal & breakfast
  • £3.00 – Accommodation
  • £4.50 – Insurance & miscellaneous expenses
  • £1 – PayPal, Credit or Debit card fee

For more info and to sign up, visit the TimeToCycle website HERE

 

 

A27 East of Lewes Consultation Closes Thursday

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Highways England is consulting on proposals for the A27 East of Lewes. The consultation closes on Thursday 8 December.

Proposals include a continuous route for cyclists from Lewes to Polegate, a route which includes Firle, Middle Farm, Charleston, Selmeston, Berwick, Drusillas and Wilmington. These are familiar names for anyone who cycles out of town into East Sussex. To view the consultation documents. look HERE and to complete an online consultation form look HERE.

We believe that the best option is for the  “walking and cycle path” as this benefits walking and cycling without supporting damaging proposals which will take more land for motor transport and encourage private car use. We also would like to insist on high quality infrastructure for walking and cycling and a proper transport strategy which encourages walking, cycling and public transport.

 If you would like to add your voice to support these improvements, please follow the links above to the consultation pages.

Its Newsletter time

One of the great things about Bricycles is the informative, entertaining and comprehensive newsletter which has been produce a few times a year since sometime last century.

The latest one – issue 110 is out now. here it is!

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Or more properly, here is a picture of its front page.

Members will have received it, sent direct to their inbox, but non-members will have to wait a while before it turns up on our website

If you would like to be among the first to receive the bumper Brighton & Hove bike stuff roundup that is the Bricycles Newsletter, join HERE

 

Hanover Parking – its not just about cars.

Following a process initiated by the Hanover & Elm Grove Local Action Team a couple of years back, the area is currently being considered for a controlled parking scheme, with the council due to publish proposals in December 1st.

Whilst the major outcome of the proposal will be to regulate and organise the way that private motor vehicles are stored on the highway, there are also implications and opportunities for other aspects:

  • A controlled parking scheme will also mostly likely include additional cycle parking spaces – will there be enough and in the right places?
  • Some streets may be converted to one way operation – should they be two-way operational for cycles?
  • Overparking at some junctions reduces visibility of and for cyclists. Are these locations being addressed?

As well as the standard council consultation, the Local Action team have organised a series of public events around the ward for people to have a look at the plans and make comment (see above for details). A great many Hanover & Elm Grove residents use cycles for transport, and if you are one of them and can attend any of the events listed to comment on proposals, your input would be most welcome.

In our ward pages, Bricycles have been collecting comments and ideas for improving cycling facilities and infrastructure across the city. For the Hanover & Elm Grove page, look HERE

 

Mayor to join the bonfire biketrain

Mayor to ride the Bonfire Bike Train to Lewes

Two mass cycle-rides from The Level in central Brighton

Saturday 5th November, 3pm & 5pm

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 “Remember, remember…. getting to Lewes Bonfire can be tricky by rail, bus or car and not half as much fun as the totally massive and amazing Bonfire Bike Train” say the organisers of the annual ride from Brighton to Lewes.

This Saturday 5th November, two ‘bike train’ mass cycle rides will roll off from the Level in central Brighton, via the University of Sussex at Falmer.

The first ride will be joined by the city’s cycling mayor, Cllr Pete West, on the mayoral tandem. A total of up to 200 people are expected on each of the bike trains which will snake up the Lewes Road with lights and music blazing.  More will board at the University of Sussex (Falmer House).

From Falmer the ride will use the inside lane of the A27 dual carriageway. Organisers say this is a safer option than the very dark and narrow cycle path alongside it.

Organiser Duncan Blinkhorn said: “This will our seventh Bonfire Bike Train to Lewes. It is always hugely popular, bringing light, music and laughter to the Lewes Road and demonstrating that group cycle rides can provide a safe and efficient means for getting from A to B, even on such a busy road. We are delighted that our cycling Mayor Pete West will joining us and we look forward to escorting him on his mayoral tandem, flying the flag for a low carbon Brighton and Hove ”

He added: “The narrow shared cycle and foot path from Falmer to Lewes is not really fit for purpose for such a big ride and desperately needs major improvement if more people are to use it during the darker months of the year . The main road has a much better quality surface and more space making it safer. We will have warning lights, reflective signs, flags and a support vehicle at the rear to ensure we are seen by approaching traffic and there will be plenty of space for vehicles to overtake us, so we won’t be holding anyone up.”

Riders will pedal along to classic firey tunes like ‘This Wheels on Fire’ and Arthur Brown’s ‘Fire’ blasting out from a fleet of cycle mounted sound systems.

In response to concerns expressed by Lewes residents involved with processions about bikes being brought into crowded areas, Mr Blinkhorn said: “We will brief all our riders, advising them to park their bikes away from central Lewes to ensure that we do not get in the way of any processions or add to the pressures on crowded streets.”

 

The bike train is free to join.  Participants are asked to:

·      ensure they bring a road-worthy bike with lights

·      register on the Facebook event page or when they arrive at the start point.

·      assemble from 2.30pm and 4.30pm to get ready for the respective departures.

Return rides will depart from outside Lewes Prison, at 11pm, midnight and 1am.

What might a safer Elm Grove junction look like?

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When I was collecting signatures for my petition about the road crash hotspot at the bottom of Elm Grove, a few people asked how redesigning the road could improve safety. How different could it really be?

Following the council’s invitation to submit ideas for their forthcoming review of this junction, I got together with a few friends and we have come up with two options for a safer junction, plus some other ideas to think about. I’ll be emailing all these ideas to the council’s Travel Planning team tomorrow, just in time for their 1st November deadline.

If you think these are good suggestions, there’s still time for you to drop them a line to say so – feel free to link to this blog post if you want to. Or, of course, send in your own thoughts about what’s wrong with the junction and how it could be…

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Council bits & pieces

It has been a packed week for the council as ever, with a few bike related things floating to the surface.

Last Wednesday the road safety team held an exchanging places event, where cyclists get to swap with bus drivers to see what the other experiences. Anyone hoping that this would involve Stagecoach drivers being put on bikes and chased up North Street by a Deliveroo cycle courier behind the wheel of the number 49 will have  been disappointed, as the main thrust of this sort of thing is that cyclists sit in the driving seat of a large vehicle to better experience all the things that the driver cannot see, and through this process understand how they may be squashed without the driver noticing. And what they might do about it.

Found this cartoon by @beztweets which I think I will just leave here for a bit…

Being autumn, the council road safety team are also running their annual Be Seen – Be Bright awareness campaign reminding people walking and cycling about the advent of winter and the importance of being seen in the dark. They will be out and about advising cyclists to get lit, and if you head to their facebook page there is the chance to enter a draw to win some lights.

The big council news of the week has been the resuscitation of the Valley Gardens Scheme – a proposal aiming to improve the stretch between the Aquarium roundabout and the Level, which involves shifting private vehicle movements to the eastern side of the gardens, simplifying the crossings and leaving the western side just for public transport and access.

The scheme has been on the cards for years, but was substantially developed by the last council. When the change of administration happened in 2015, the new administration called a pause because they wanted to review the scheme – particular the traffic modelling, and this done, it is now back on track. this is a good thing, as it promises to provide high quality protected cycle routes along the north south length, as well as improved east west connections.

The final scheme has not yet been announced, and some consultation is still taking place, and Bricycles continue to participate in this and be represented as opportunities arise. The word from Tony, who has been attending consultation events is that it looks good for cyclists, although there are some aspects of the design that may require tweaking. watch this space.

And finally….another award for the Lewes Road scheme. Last Friday, the council Transport Team celebrated scooping first place as Transport Local Authority of the Year in the National Transport Awards. Congrats to the council and hoping that this inspires them to continue developing safe and accessible transport options for all.

Elm Grove Junction Update

“The message that everyone is trying to kill you outweighs some croissants from the Mayor on Cycle to Work day.”

Essential reading of the week is Dani Ahrens powerful and pertinent summary of the last leg in the journey of the petition which she started to seek improvements at the Elm grove Junction. The quote above is from the speech she made to the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee last week, and the full submission and her commentary can be found on her blog HERE

The response from the council to her petition of 781 signatures wanting improvements at this junction was – on the face of it – promising, with the council announcing that the junction will receive an upgrade in 2016/17,  but as the only detail given was the possibility of cycle advance signals, the suspicion is that the key problems with the junction will remain untouched. A suspicion backed up by another council ambition to “improve the efficiency of the junction” – some thing which Dani points out in her blog, can be a counter productive priority;

“I think it’s more important to make the road safer for people on bikes and on foot. In the long run, making roads feel safer for people travelling by bike is the best way to improve the efficiency of the road system. But the changes necessary to do that can’t be made if they have to happen without altering the existing capacity of junctions and roads to accommodate motor traffic.”

Also Dani is concerned that the suggestions made in her petition – for example introduction of a simultaneous green light phase for cyclists – have not been responded to, which may indicate that the council are reluctant to look beyond the limited palette of standard response to consider something more innovative or imaginative.

Whilst the council warn that they are working on a very tight schedule for this, and don’t have time or resources for a wide ranging consultation, they do invite contributions, and  if anyone would like to put forward suggestions then they are very welcome to do so by emailing Travel.Planning@brighton-hove.gov.uk. by November 1st.

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