Controversial plans to uproot a dedicated cycle lane in one of the South’s busiest cities have been defeated.
Tory proposals at Brighton and Hove Council’s 3 March budget meeting were defeated by Labour and Green councillors who banded together to force through an amended budget which will keep the scheme on Grand Avenue and The Drive in Hove.
Completed in 2008 at a cost of some £550,000, the lane runs for a whisker under a mile from the seafront directly north in the direction of the South Downs. It divides the cycle lane from the busy main road via a raised buffer zone of ‘pavement’, and on-street parking bays, and was intended to be a European-style cycle ‘freeway’.
The proposal – defeated in a meeting rife with interruptions from protestors – was to remove the lanes at a projected cost of £1.1 million – twice that of installing it.
The plans came to light last month, and quickly led to protest – both in the town itself, and from pro-cycling bodies nationally. Meanwhile, the online petition has peddled on towards 3,500 signatures.
While the council highlighted safety issues inherent in the cycle lane, it was also entirely up-front in admitting that removing them would improve traffic flow – particularly for lorries.
Photo by Nanagyei
According to the authority – buried some 200+ pages into the cabinet report – “In order to improve the visual impact and traffic flow along this important north – south corridor including access to the A27/A23 from the A259/Shoreham Harbour it is proposed to remove the cycle lane along both sides of Grand Avenue and The Drive.”
Photo by Tom Anderson
Writing on her blog prior to the meeting, council leader Mary Mears highlighted the “segregated” aspect of the lane, saying that it potentially makes cyclists and drivers less aware of the presence of each other, particularly at junctions and where vehicles need to cross the lane to access driveways.
She added that it “is not well used and it is certainly not attracting lots of young, new and inexperienced cyclists, as it was originally intended to do”, adding that “no amount of tinkering with access, parking places or driveways will change that”.
As a rider who regularly uses this lane, I can agree that it is far from perfect – and the issue of riders and drivers struggling to see each other (or indeed of drivers managing to park across the lane) can be a problem. However – even if we forget about the cost – the notion of ripping it out to make the road wider for lorries was a short-sighted idea.
Especially as the news comes amid suggestions that the council could bring London’s much-praised ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme to the seaside city – something which would be great to see, given its success in London.
And while two-wheelers are enjoying their coup, local rider Clive Andrews offered something further to think about. Writing on Twitter, he said: “Pleased about Hove cycle lane news but remember folks, cycling’s about more than cycle lanes. The roads are yours too!”