Eastbourne cycling group criticises ‘shocking’ town centre scheme

Bespoke cycling rally along the seafront
Bespoke cycling rally along the seafront

A cycling group has criticised the Eastbourne town centre improvement scheme for ‘restricting’ access for cyclists.

Bespoke says scrapping plans to let cyclists use the new bus lanes in Terminus Road is discouraging cycling in the town centre.

Buses and pedestrians in Terminus Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Buses and pedestrians in Terminus Road, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)

The group also says reducing the width of the roads to increase the size of pavements means there is now less room for people on bikes –putting them in harm’s way.

And it has now turned its ire on the next phase of the plans, by East Sussex County Council and Eastbourne Borough Council, which propose pedestrianising Terminus Road between Bolton Road and Langney Road.

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Bespoke said in a statement, “The routes now open to cycles are being restricted. Choices will be either get off and walk or go on the busy, and for most, inappropriate ring road.

“The ring road is shown on the crash database as one of the routes with the most traffic incidents. So the young, old and disabled are discouraged from using cycles.”

Another gripe the group has is the new flower beds outside The Beacon extension could have been a cycle lane.

The statement says, “A cycle route alongside buses was in the original plans. Now buses are permitted in this stretch, and taxis at certain times, but cycles are forbidden.

“This is so far from the national direction as to be laughable. Phase 1 also built out many of the local streets so that the road widths were reduced, forcing cycles further into the path of cars, vans, lorries and buses.”

Bespoke says the new plan to pedestrianise a stretch of Terminus Road is ‘completely at odds’ with Government targets to double cycling numbers, the Eastbourne Local Plan and the town’s target to be Carbon Neutral by 2030.

“To make the modal shift away from cars, people need to use buses or cycles,” Bespoke says, “People will not use cycles if they perceive it is more difficult and more dangerous to do so. The town centre plan will make provision for cycling throughout Eastbourne worse and people will continue to drive throughout Eastbourne.

“The town centre regeneration should have permeability for cyclists. This worsening provision for potential cyclists is shocking. Bespoke has repeatedly stated its opposition to plans that do nothing to increase cycling numbers across not only the town centre, but the whole of Eastbourne.”

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Responding to these concerns, an East Sussex County Council spokesperson said, “The scheme has to strike a balance between the interests of a range of people with differing needs, including pedestrians, people wanting to access the area who use mobility aids or who have visual or sensory impairments, bus users and those choosing to cycle.

“The kind of configuration we’ve opted for is primarily aimed at improving conditions for the pedestrian environment, and it doesn’t easily lend itself to including access for people choosing to cycle.

“While the scheme does require cyclists to dismount, this only applies to a few town centre streets and we’re actively working to improve cycle routes between the town centre, residential areas of Eastbourne and the seafront. Cycle parking is also proposed to be provided at key entry points into the pedestrianised area.

“We are investing £6 million in walking and cycling in Eastbourne and south Wealden which includes new cycle routes, and we are also consulting on a Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan for the county in the new year.

“People can also have their say on phase two of the town centre improvement scheme in the consultation that is currently running and their views will be taken into account when it comes to finalising the design.”

The consultation is live at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay