Need to look at the bigger picture

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REFERRING to the letter about cycling along the promenades (August 3), by Jane Schulze, I sympathise with her thoughts.

However, the big picture was once again overlooked and like Jane, I too have drawn attention in the past to the serious predicament cyclists face in Eastbourne.

For more than 40 years the possibility of a cycle route away from the fumes and risk of traffic between Hampden Park and Eastbourne has been ‘on the shelf.’

Our council has not seen a right time for it with mainly cash flow being the excuse given.

During that time we have had Route 21 between Polegate and Hampden Park appear but no equally useful and pleasant extension of it alongside the railway line between Hampden Park and Eastbourne.

Having in recent years placed the need on record after it had been ‘forgotten’, I urge it be dealt with before the opportunity is forever lost.

The 1967 Eastbourne Urban Plan touched lightly on the needs of cyclists. However those representatives of the time, commenting to the public about cycling generally, had a strong voice in favour of a route between Hampden Park and the town, free from vehicular traffic and all it entails, and it was made a promise for the future.

The present strategy of council members is one of ‘make do and mend’ rather than showing the foresight necessary for the town’s future pedestrian and cycling inhabitants, including of course, invalids, and it places emphasis on private enterprise development methods for progress.

The government says provision for cyclists needs to be addressed. We’ve had arguments about cycle paths along our seafront but the real need, an artery for cyclists and pedestrians alike, free from the traffic flow with its fumes and inherent risk has conveniently stayed out of sight.

A case perhaps, of the most important being hidden by lesser argument for elsewhere!

Indicating no support for the need for the route into town for pedestrians and cyclists through that expansive green area alongside the railway line, one councillor said there had been very few accidents involving cyclists along Kings Drive over the past few years - making no reference to the fume-laden air and acute sense of self-preservation endured by cyclists.

Faced with reasonable argument, he and his colleagues have since allegedly changed their tune and make claim to having the need in mind.

That means little without such a route coming into existence and reliance on private enterprise buying the land for building purposes then providing the where-with-all is surely not the way.

The motor vehicle presence has inexorably spread through the town. White lines on roads with vehicle fume laden air and risk from accident is not an answer that will encourage and assist to any great extent; nor is the sensible provision of cycle lanes along the seafront an encouragement for cycling to work or simply cycleing to enjoy outdoor fresh air.

One has first to ride to the seafront with whatever that entails! Likewise, pedestrians and invalids, have a need or wish for both recreational and necessary activity away from the motor vehicle. That was obviously considered when the 21 route was provided so why not a continuance of the traffic-free route?

The Cabinet seems to not realise the need, nor to have the drive, to be adequately creative and forward thinking for the purposes of the future.

Except for that seafront cycle route, its present strategy still has little to do with “a Healthy Cycling Plan For Eastbourne” and the county council ‘Cycling Strategy’. Both are a mile apart from creating a pedestrian and cycling strategy which in particular would satisfy movement between Hampden Park and Eastbourne similar to the 21 route.

More than 40 years and still not accomplished yet hardly mentioned nowadays by Bespoke or in Council. Council members of many years ago had vision and good creative thinking. The word prioritise had not been taken into common use then but its meaning had long been recognised.

Times have changed but the need for creativity remains. Providing a Hampden Park to Eastbourne route may well be considered as a difficult financial path to tread, but it could be even more difficult as time goes by, especially with the introduction by the council of private enterprise interests.

It could be it will no longer be viable and an excellent opportunity will have been lost forever, lost through a lack of creativity and foresight as well as reliance on private enterprise development.

Is that what our council will allow? I’m sure it shouldn’t!

RON SPICER

Meadowlands Avenue