‘Pipeline’ of potential East Sussex walking and cycling routes approved
A new ‘pipeline’ of potential cycling and walking routes in East Sussex has been given the go ahead by county council leaders.
On Thursday (September 30), East Sussex County Council’s cabinet approved the authority’s new Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) — a document which lays out where cycling and walking improvements could be put in place.
The plan comes in response to government guidance which says local councils with such plans would be in a good position to secure funding at a later date.
Cllr Claire Dowling, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “The Department for Transport recommended that each transport local authority develop local cycling and walking infrastructure plans and these would be focused on the areas with the greatest chance where we could increase the levels of active travel, cycling and walking.
“In East Sussex, that is the coastal routes and the larger towns. However, the draft also recognises the importance of cycling and walking in our rural areas, which is very important to all of our communities.
“The LCWIP is a living document. It will be regularly reviewed and it will be regularly updated. It shows potential routes or measures. The routes that are contained within are not detailed proposals.
“To deliver and develop future schemes we need to secure funding. Once secured then the specific schemes will be subject to local consultation with members and with the public before they can be implemented.”
Cllr Dowling went on to describe the LCWIP as a ‘pipeline’ for future projects.
While the principle of the plan was broadly welcomed by opposition councillors, there was some criticism of some of the specifics of the plan.
Colin Swansborough (Lib Dem) said: “We do welcome any change in emphasis that encourages a modal shift away from the 70 per cent of trips which are currently made by car.
“Obviously we want to get people to use alternative forms of transport; walking, cycling or even buses.”
He added: “One problem I have with our approach is that the schemes are very complex and particularly the one I am looking at for Eastbourne town centre.
“Where it goes doesn’t appear to offer too much in the way of safer environment for cyclists. It doesn’t look as if it is much more than what the Department for Transport refers to as paint on the road.
“I am hoping that there will be something more substantial than that and look forward to hearing about the details of that scheme.
“Another aspect that concerns me [is] some of the schemes have been around for 20 years! Are we really near or about to get these schemes or is it another pipe dream.”
Cllr Swansborough also criticised the plan for lacking details on improving bus routes and access, arguing that it would be a more effective way to reduce car use in the county.
This last line of argument saw some criticism, however, with council leader Keith Glazier saying this issue was to be addressed within the council’s upcoming Bus Back Better strategy.
A more general criticism was made by Labour councillor Godfrey Daniel. He said: “It has almost become an article of religious faith about cycling these days.
“I have to say not all cycling schemes are universally popular. We’ve got one that has been thought of in my area, where there is a huge volume of complaints. In part of my patch, I get more complaints about cyclists — young, anti-social cyclists — than anybody else.
“Don’t get me wrong, I support cycle lanes where they are appropriate, where you get good cost effectiveness and which respect the topography.
“I don’t think we should just automatically say it is all wonderful all these schemes have to be well thought out.”
Cllr Daniel went on to highlight concerns around a particular scheme in Hastings, which would be a shared cycling and walking space.
Sign off from cabinet followed a public consultation on a draft version of the plan last year.
According to meeting papers, most consultation responses were focused on detailed comments related to individual schemes, which officers said would be considered as specific schemes come forward.
However, the council did update its plan in light of some of the responses, with a particular effort to make some of the existing information in the plan clearer.
Officers also said further consultation will take place next with the aim of identifying new potential schemes for the LCWIP.