Campaigners upset as seafront cycle path vetoed by government

No cycling on Eastbourne seafront SUS-160510-133547001
No cycling on Eastbourne seafront SUS-160510-133547001

Eastbourne cycling pressure group Bespoke says it is frustrated and disappointed after a move to bring in cycling along the seafront was vetoed by the government.

The Department for Communities and Local Government rejected Eastbourne Borough Council’s proposals to amend the byelaw which would have allowed cyclists and pedestrians to share the promenade between Fisherman’s Green and the Wish Tower.

One of the major concerns was that a comprehensive cycling and walking strategy should be put in place by the council first and there were also numerous objections.

The council says it is working on the strategy and is adamant the byelaw will eventually be amended.

But Bespoke says for the time being, Eastbourne will remain practically the only British seaside town that does not permit safe, traffic-free cycling along its seafront.

The group’s Robert McGowan said, “Families, commuters, students or tourists who want to ride from the town centre to the Redoubt museum, or Sovereign Harbour or beyond to the more enlightened Bexhill and Hastings must continue to take their chances on the busy and dangerous Marine Parade.

“At peak times it carries more than 1,000 motor vehicles an hour at speeds of up to 30mph, a level the government says should trigger the provision of a cycle route.

“Meanwhile, the promenades will continue to host Dotto trains, skateboards, roller blades, mobility scooters, boat trailers and all sorts of other wheeled things. Isn’t Eastbourne trying to develop its tourism offer to attract families who might want to explore the town and surrounding coast and countryside by bike?

“Yes – Bespoke is disappointed and frustrated.

“We still think cycling is a low-cost, convenient and enjoyable solution to the growing obesity and inactivity crisis that is threatening to overwhelm the NHS.

“Riding bikes around towns is an obvious way of tackling the alarming issue of air pollution that causes 16,000 premature deaths a year in Britain – Eastbourne has been identified as a blackspot.

More than half of all car trips in Britain are less than five miles, which can easily be achieved on an ordinary bicycle in normal clothes. But most people will only do so when it is safe – preferably separated from heavy traffic.

“We hear the councils are now working on a walking and cycling strategy – but what does this mean and how long will it take?

“The councils’ record does not inspire confidence – Eastbourne’s first cycle strategy was written in 1994. While some groups seem to be vehemently anti-cycling, they are less vocal about practical solutions.”