Group calling on Eastbourne Council to address pedestrian safety

Protesters from Afoot Eastbourne, sign says, 'Shared Space Schemes are the biggest systematic institutionalised discrimination against blind people the UK has ever seen'
Protesters from Afoot Eastbourne, sign says, 'Shared Space Schemes are the biggest systematic institutionalised discrimination against blind people the UK has ever seen'

An organisation has written an open letter calling on local authorities to invest in pedestrian safety in Eastbourne.

Afoot is lobbying Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council to make footpaths more safe, particularly for disabled and older people.

It is a group of people concerned with the rise in ‘anti-social cycling’ who oppose shared spaces between both cyclists and pedestrians – and think cycling should be banned from the promenade.

It accuses both councils of failing to consult with walking groups and prioritising the safety of those using bicycles over pedestrians.

The open letter says, “Afoot understand money has been allocated to East Sussex County Council to advance safe walking and safe cycling.

“In 2012 the Government requested councils give equal priority to delivery of safe walking and safe cycling strategies.

“Since this time Eastbourne has seen investment in dedicated cycling schemes, and of course delivery of a shared pavement cycling strategy at the expense of safe walking.

“Whilst consulting with national and local cycling groups to deliver a safe cycling strategy, you have failed to consult with walking groups, and have yet to deliver a distinct ‘safe walking strategy’.

“A pre-requisite of inclusive design and core to a safe walking strategy, smooth, flat surface pavements have become very rare on our high footfall routes.

“This is especially dangerous for disabled and older people, at times excluding them from areas of the town or their neighbourhood pavements.

“We strongly believe both councils should now focus on redressing the balance.

“Deliver safe flat surfaces to our town enabling inclusive access and safe walking.

“If you are unsure where to start we suggest you review the Eastbourne Access Guide to ensure our towns chairways and dropped kerb routes are prioritised.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said, “We are currently in the process of procuring a consultant to support the development of a county-wide cycling and walking strategy.

“As part of this commission the consultant will liaise with Afoot and other key local stakeholders, to address their concerns, and establish how these can be incorporated into the development of a longer term strategy for cycling and walking, and support the prioritisation of funding towards these measures.”

A spokesperson from Eastbourne Borough Council added, “We support the work of ESCC on its development of a countywide Cycling and Walking Strategy.”

Afoot describes itself as, “An association of like-minded people who are concerned at the steady rise in militant, anti-social cycling.

“Although many of us are cyclists and are very concerned that cycling should be made as safe and as easy as possible, we are equally concerned that increasing safety for cyclists should not be at the expense of additional danger to other road users, particularly pedestrians.”

For more information about the group, visit www.afoot.org.uk