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?

Rebel Yarns

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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Elm Grove Junction Review

Last November, Brighton & Hove City Council passed a Notice of Motion that the council should sign up to the Space For Cycling Campaign

Space for Cycling is a campaign run by Cycling UK (at the time of the NoM known as CTC). The campaign is divided into six main themes:

  1. Protected space on main roads and junctions
  2. Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
  3. Lower speed limits
  4. Cycle-friendly town centres
  5. Safe routes to school
  6. Routes through green spaces

Following an incident last week where a cyclist was struck by a lorry at the junction of Lewes Road and Elm Grove, the council has the opportunity to act on its commitment to cycling in the city as local resident Dani Ahrens submits a petition for a junction review and urgent improvements at this location.

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Dani comments

The junction of Elm Grove and Lewes Road is nerve-wracking to cycle through from any direction, and with good reason. On July 9th, a local cyclist was hit and seriously injured by a lorry turning left into Elm Grove. There have been two other serious accidents at the same junction in the last five years, one involving injury to a pedestrian and the other involving a cyclist being injured. Two further serious accidents have occurred at the nearby junction of Union Road with Lewes Road, and both locations have seen numerous less serious incidents in recent years.

Junctions like this are a huge part of the reason why many people don’t cycle. Having to cross multiple lanes of traffic, position yourself assertively in the centre of your lane, and race ahead of left-turning vehicles is simply too terrifying for a lot of people. Making a mistake shouldn’t mean risking your life. A moment of inattention shouldn’t render a driver responsible for putting someone in hospital.

Suggestions for improvement include:

  • Simultaneous green lights for cycling only. This is a system that is commonly used at road junctions in the Netherlands. Here is a page with more information, videos and photographs showing how this works in practice: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/05/the-best-traffic-light-solution-for.html
  • Removing railings
  • Straightening the pedestrian crossing on Lewes Road, just north of Elm Grove
  • Adding a pedestrian crossing south of Elm Grove (improving access to Park Crescent surgery)
  • Protected cycle infrastructure, connected with the cycle paths at the Level, enabling people on bikes to cross or bypass this junction without conflict with other road users.

Please support this petition and to make sure that the council lives up to the commitment to Space for Cycling which it made last year. The petition can be found HERE and it will be open until 29th September 2016 before being presented to the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee meeting on 11 October 2016.

Lewes Road Bike Train pilot starts in March

biketrain_lcc.jpgDuncan Blinkhorn of Lewes Road for Clean Air is planning a “Bike Train” so that cyclists can gather and ride together at intervals, convoy style between the Level and Falmer. Duncan said: “Bike Train aims to create a safe space in the form of scheduled mass rides, where cyclists are highly visible and able to hold the road for each other on routine journeys to work, school and university.”

Continue reading “Lewes Road Bike Train pilot starts in March”

Police to fine Lewes Road cycle lane parking!

Sussex Police has been given
authority to issue non-endorsable £30 tickets to vehicles parked
in advisory cycle lanes for the offence of ‘Causing an
unnecessary obstruction.’ According to a Police spokesperson
"this is an offence that the issuing officer needs to see first
hand."

Continue reading “Police to fine Lewes Road cycle lane parking!”