Thursday, 16 October 2014

Brighton artist calls for research on prevention, in our battle against breast cancer

Jamie McCartney - Goddess - 2014
During a talk to launch an  exhibition of his art, including nudes and scans of womens' breasts, Jamie McCartney said he supported Breast cancer UK because it focuses on prevention rather than cure. The show runs to 9 November 2014 in Ground Coffee Cafe, Hove, UK.

Jamie makes his art by scanning body parts and recombining the scans into prints. He showed a poster  he has made of hundreds of scans of women’s breasts, one version in bras and one naked. The posters are on sale for £10, of which £2.50 goes to charity. Some people commented this is exploitative; Jamie counters that yes, he enjoys bodies, so do many other people, so let's raise money for charity, and public awareness.
Jamie also mentioned something else that made me think. He mentions that he has chosen to support Breast Cancer UK because, he said, it is the only charity that campaigns to prevent breast cancer (rather than try to cure the cancer once started). I did a search, and found others looking for prevention, but none that state so clearly that our modern environment must be closely looked at.
100 years ago breast cancer was unheard of. Now 1 in 8 women (and some men) will get it, one in 5 of these will die). So what is is about modern life that give rise to this cancer? It might be an uncomfortable answer – plastic bottles have come under suspicion, as have chemicals in under arm deodorants. Whether uncomfortable or not, we need to focus efforts on what is causing the cancer. What communities have less cancer? What are the lifestyle differences? And then let's play safe. If we suspect it, lets not eat it or use it for packaging our food! This research will not be popular with industry, because industry does not want us to criticise what it is coaxing us to consume.
Well done Jamie for calling our attention to this. Even if you did find it enjoyable.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Brighton and Hove awarded Europe's top transport award



Brighton & Hove won Europe’s top environmental award for policies to promote clean transport when it was named City of the Year in the CIVITAS Awards 2014 on Friday 26 September 2014.

The prize is awarded each year to the city which best demonstrates implementation of ambitious sustainable transport policies.  These must show active involvement of local people, overcome challenges and help meet CIVITAS goals on cleaner, better transport in European cities.

The city council scored with policies to promote cycling and bus travel, as well as offering schools, businesses and residents advice on smarter transport choices with “personal travel planning”.

Bus initiatives have included electronic real-time boards at bus stops linked to satellite tracking which show exactly when the bus will arrive, plus smartcard and smartphone ticketing,

Improved cycle infrastructure includes reconfiguring dangerous junctions such as Seven Dials and the Vogue Gyratory and a ‘floating’ bus stop on Lewes Road which prevent buses having to cross the path of bikes.  The council has also promoted cycle priority and ‘head-start’ lights for bikes at junctions and built cycle lanes to segregate bikes from fast traffic on main routes.

Elsewhere in places such as North Laine, cycle contraflow lanes have been created, meaning bikes can go either way along one-way streets, shortening journeys.

On public engagement, the council said it had consulted almost 85,000 people on Phases 2 and 3 of its roll-out of 20mph speed limits, proven to reduce the severity of accidents.  Some 70,000 people had been visited at home and offered advice on personal travel planning since 2006.

The council says such policies have led to continued growth of bus travel, with 46.4 million passenger journeys being made per year.  Numbers of people cycling to work have doubled in ten years.  Where the council has installed new segregated cycle lanes and floating bus stops on Lewes Road, in 2013, cycle journeys had increased by 14 per cent.  Road safety had improved with a yearly decline in the number and severity of accidents.

Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said:  “These award-winning initiatives are not novel to Brighton & Hove – instead they represent best practice all across Europe.  However the difference we have made is in actually delivering best practice in Brighton & Hove, instead of the city lagging behind Britain and Europe.

“It’s immensely satisfying to have this recognised by a judging panel of renowned transport experts from the UK and abroad – and to have it recognised that we have involved huge numbers of residents in these decisions.”

Find out more about CIVITAS and the awards: http://www.civitas.eu/page-awards-main

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Thirteen years later - MMR vaccine - Autism link is revived in USA "fraud" scandal

A whistle-blower says that a link between the MMR vaccination and autism was discovered by USA government health agency CDC 13 years ago - and that the CDC falsified the data to say there was no link.

The whistle blower is CDC scientist, William Thomas. In August 2014,  he released 10,000 CDC documents to a US congressman. These documents are alleged to show a coverup of a link between autism and MMR vaccination in USA.


Activists have accused the media of repressing this story, eg CNN initially withdrew their report. (Here's a link to the CNN report, which was withdrawn and then re-posted - with fascinating key points from the story http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1164794 )

Why I'm interested in this story on side effects of vaccination
I was surprised to stumble on this news story, because the story had so little publicity, especially when you consider the prosecution of Wakefield (who was persecuted following his claims of a link between MMR and Autism).

Readers of this blog will know that I'm interested in the vaccination saga, partly because I prefer natural health where possible, and partly because it seems big business obscures the truth in order to sell more vaccinations. My personal understanding is that there are risks attached to both 'natural acquired immunity' (whereby people get measles as part of normal life, and are then immune for life) and 'vaccine acquired immunity' (whereby people are injected with 'safe' versions of the disease to become immune).

My researches led me to believe that healthy children can contract measles with very low risk of side effects, so long as the fevers are managed naturally, rather than with fever-symptom suppressants such as paracetamol (eg Calpol). Unhealthy children who then contract measles have a higher risk of brain damage or death. Malnourished children (Vitamin B deficiency in particular) are at risk from measles, such as in Africa.

Vaccination may carry lower risk of measles-type side effects, so vaccination is helpful especially when dealing with unhealthy populations with poor diets. But there ARE also particular side effects from vaccination.

What bothers me is that the data on these risks is not easily available - government agencies gloss over the risk of vaccination - possibly because because the public avoids vaccination if they hear of even the slightest chance of risk.

I suppose mass vaccination is necessary in societies where populations are unhealthy. And it does depend on how serious the disease is. So in the case of small pox, the risk of vaccination seemed worthwhile in order to be immunised against the often fatal disease. But my opinion is that measles is one disease where healthy children have low risk when acquiring natural immunity - and that vaccination may carry risks which aren't properly evaluated by health agencies.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Road casualities decrease in Brighton and Hove - Greens claim credit for their sustainable transport policies - total road deaths and collisions down but cycle casualties increase

30.11.2013. Brighton and Hove City Council and the city's Green Party trumpeted a reduction in the total number of reported injuries on the cities roads, following data released in November 2013.

Council data showed 978 people killed or injured in Brighton and Hove in 2012, down from 1,106 (2011) and 1,110 (2010). Numbers killed (5) or seriously injured (155) also fell, as did number of collisions (789, down from 893). 

The Green Party, which is in control of the city, said the drop was due to its policies, which are designed to encourage sustainable transport - ie a 'modal shift' away from private motor cars and toward public transport, cycling and walking.

The council published detailed breakdowns of the statistics that showed the overall drop in casualties. The publication of detailed casualty data by the council is a new development. These data also show breakdowns for 'vulnerable groups'. Among these, there has been a slight increase in causalities among cyclists. In 2012, 161 cyclists were injured, up from 157 the previous year. There were no cyclist fatalities. This might be presumed due to an increase in cyclists using the roads. Data is detailed in links given at the end of this article.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brighton promises to action to cut air pollution as EU fines are threatened and councillor Pete West says new developments must minimise motor journeys and pay for sustainable transport

3 July 2012. A Brighton and Hove City Council press release predicted measures to cut pollution, caused mainly by motor vehicles - and avoid the risk of EU pollution fines.

Chair of the environment committee Councillor Pete West said: "Hazardous air quality caused by vehicles remains a stubborn problem. This is one reason why we're so keen to help people use alternatives to the car. That means making it safer and more pleasant to walk and cycle. We also need to ensure buses aren't caught in queues of cars so that public transport provides a quicker alternative. It would also be good to see more low-emission buses, lorries and vans.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Plan to ban cars from Brighton's town centre is being considered by the city council who say the "old town" was "not designed for cars"

View of Bond Street in North Laine's warren - "not designed" for cars (pic Google)
Brighton and Hove city council is considering banning or reducing numbers of non-essential motor cars from the "Old Town" centre, which remains the heart of the city. Sustainable transport options are being improved throughout the city, although this latest move has been announced as a tourism and business promotion.

A press release issued Tuesday 22 May 2012 announced: "Proposals to make the Old Town area of Brighton a more attractive destination and better environment for business are now on display."

Option A would restrict vehicles from accessing any of the Old Town unless they have a specific reason for being there, for example they are delivering to a business, are a resident, parking for shopping, taxi or an emergency service.

Option B would allow vehicles to continue to come into the area with overall vehicle flow reduced by using restrictions designed to deter through traffic. In addition the section of Prince Albert Street between Black Lion Street and Ship Street would become traffic-free, and East Street would become an 'access only' area.

If agreed, the improvement scheme could start January 2013.

Councillor Ian Davey, chair of the city's transport committee, said: "The Old Town is one of the oldest and most popular areas in the city and part of its appeal is the quirky, narrow streets which people love to wander around. We want to explore ways of improving the area for everyone to enjoy, while allowing essential users to still have access. We are responding to requests to make improvements here and we'll be working with the community to find the best solution. The consultation results will be reported to a future Transport Committee meeting."
A council spokesperson said: "The Old Town's narrow streets were not designed for the high volume of 'through' traffic now travelling through them. Originally the heart of the old fishing town of Brighthelmstone, the Old Town has developed since the 13th century and retains its original street pattern.

"This is the next phase of making the Old Town, which includes the historic Lanes, more accessible for those who enjoy the area and wander through it to the seafront. The scheme has already put in improvements from Middle Street to Black Lion Street and extended it along to East Street. Work was completed ahead of the busy tourist season. An important aim of making infrastructure improvements to the area is to maximise the potential of one the city's historic centres for local businesses by making it more attractive and comfortable for visitors.

"Residents, businesses and visitors can view the two new proposals to further improve the Old Town for the hundreds of thousands of people that live, work and visit in the area every year"

There will be an unstaffed exhibition in the foyer of Bartholomew House from 23 May to 29 June and staffed exhibitions at the Friend's Meeting House in Ship Street on Thursday 14 June, 12 noon–8pm and Saturday 16 June, 9am–5pm and at Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Square, Thursday, 28 June, 8.45am–4.45pm.

Related information and links
View the details online and complete the questionnaire
Information and questionnaires will be sent to residents and businesses in the Old Town.
The Old Town is the area bounded by East Street, North Street, West Street and the sea which forms the historic core of Brighton.
The Old Town is most well-known for The Lanes, and intricate maze of twisting alleyways.
Latest proposals on view to improve Brighton's Old Town

Friday, 11 May 2012

Cyclists to be allowed to cycle both ways on one way streets in Brighton's North Laine

Twelve one way streets in the North Laine area of Brighton are to be opened up for cycling in both directions following a decision taken by Brighton & Hove City Council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Cabinet Member Meeting on Friday, 4 May, 2012.

Councillor Ian Davey, cabinet member for transport and the public realm, said: "This is designed to make the area easier for people to move around. It will address issues raised by local residents and businesses about cyclists who use pavements and twittens, by permitting people to cycle legally on the street. We will continue to work with the local community as the changes are rolled out. The council will be taking into consideration the views of the people who live and work in the North Laine when designing the contraflow so that it is safe and works well."

Headcam vid shows excitement of cycling down Lewes Road in Brighton

Brighton's council proposals to improve cycling along the Lewes Road were backed up by a headcam video of the cycling experience. The measures are expected to increase bus journeys by 25%, increase cycling, and reduce car trips by 10%.

Cllr Ian Davey explains Brighton & Hove City Council's proposals to improve transport and safety on Lewes Road. These include wide bus and bike lanes and safety measures for the Vogue gyratory junction. Click here for full story on the proposals.

Brighton council to increase road space for buses and cycles at expense of cars on traffic artery to Lewes Road

Brighton and Hove City council has proposed to reduce the space allocated to cars on the A27 which is the main traffic artery heading inland eastwards out of Brighton toward Lewes. The road is a dual carriageway and one of the two lanes in each direction will be re-designated as a bus and cycle lane.

It is hoped that the measures will improve bus journey times by 30%, increase bus passengers by 25%, reduce the number of car journeys by 10% and get significantly more people cycling.

Improved bus journey times will make buses a more attractive option, and increase the number of people using buses. This should reduce car traffic, and further ease congestion, decreasing the amount of traffic pollution in the area (NO2 pollution exceeds EU limits). See PR issued yesterday (Click for Link)

Details of the council's Second stage consultations are given below, and a link to the council web page is given at the foot of this article. The proposals don't specifically say that cars will be allocated less space, but that is implied by allocating one lane to other (sustainable forms of Transport

Lewes Road Sustainable Transport Scheme: Second Stage Consultation

Picture of how the proposed plans may look on Lewes Road [The image above is a visual of what the proposed traffic lanes might look like]

The consultation on detailed proposals for Lewes Road transport improvements is now open until 25 May 2012. You can comment on the proposals by completing the consultation questionnaire.
The proposals include changes to one of the city’s most hazardous spots for cyclists – the Vogue Gyratory system near Lewes Road Sainsbury’s. They also include:
  • Wide bus and cycle lanes in each direction between the Amex stadium and the Vogue Gyratory.
  • A continuous on-road two metre-wide cycle lane both north and south through the Vogue Gyratory system.
  • Widening the shared pedestrian and cycle lane for 300 metres north of Coldean Lane.
  • An enhanced cycle network to the north giving access to the Amex stadium and both universities.
  • Extending the 30mph speed limit northwards to near the Amex.
It is hoped that the measures would:
  • improve bus journey times by 30%
  • increase bus passengers by 25%
  • reduce the number of car journeys by 10%
  • get significantly more people cycling   
The video below shows a bird's-eye view of cycling around the Vogue Gyratory on Lewes Road, while Cllr Ian Davey explains Brighton & Hove City Council's proposals to improve transport and safety. These include wide bus and bike lanes and safety measures for the gyratory junction.

Commenting on the proposals
To tell us what you think about the proposed changes to Lewes Road complete the online Lewes Road consultation questionnaire. A printable version of the Lewes Road consultation questionnaire [PDF 286kb] is also available, which can be returned to us in an envelope using the freepost address given on the form (no stamp required).
The closing date for comments is 25 May 2012.

This text was originally posted on Brighton and Hove City Council's website on this link:
http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1252674#title2

Green councillor says sustainable transport on Lewes Road will benefit the majority, since more people use buses than use cars, and bus services will improve

Cllr Davey at Save The Drive Cycle Lane 2011
Proposals to increase space for buses on the Lewes Road will benefit a majority of the road users, according to Brighton and Hove City Council's cabinet councillor for transport Ian Davey.

A statement released on 9 May 2012 by Brighton and Hove City Council said: "The top two myths about plans to improve safety and transport on Brighton's Lewes Road are being exploded by the city council."

The authority has been monitoring early responses to a 30,000 strong survey of residents about plans to improve safety and smooth transport along the key route.

Main proposals are to change the road from being a dual carriageway into a route with one lane in each direction for (motor) vehicles. The other lane would be turned into dedicated bus and bike lanes.

There would also be wide bike lanes at the Vogue gyratory system near Sainsbury's - scene of 25 accidents between 2009 and 2011.

The statement said the two main misconceptions among some residents are as follows:
1) The scheme will only benefit students. Cllr Ian Davey said: "It's true many students will benefit from improved bus and cycling connections. But getting them onto alternative transport should reduce traffic jams for people who have no choice but to drive. It will also benefit commuters and supporters of Brighton & Hove Albion. They are among the most avid users of sustainable transport of any fans in the UK. That's why the club is officially supporting the changes."
2) The changes will damage the economy because people will be stuck in traffic, unable to get to work. Cllr Davey responds: "Research shows that most people travelling the route do not use a car. About 35,000 use the bus compared to about 27,000 in cars. We want to increase further the numbers using sustainable transport because of serious traffic jams and air pollution in the city. That will happen if these changes speed bus journey times and improve reliability."
Residents can have their say in the public consultation on the Lewes Road proposals on the council's website at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/lewesroad This includes a link to a YouTube video featuring a cyclist's-eye view of the hazardous Vogue gyratory and an explanation of the proposed changes from Cllr Davey.
Closing date for public views is May 25.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Words into Action: Brighton and Hove budgets for sustainable transport, but is it enough to change people's transport habits?

Looking east along Old Shoreham Road: new cycle lane with raised kerb 20 Mar 2012
Brighton and Hove City Council released its 2012-13 Local Transport Plan capital budget on 15 March 2012 (link to download below). The budget lays out how £6.46m of capital will be spent over the next year with allocations for the following two years. This compares with £3.34m in 2011/12, £3.02m in 2010/11 and £5.79m in 2009/10. It is good to see progress - at a time when not much tangible seems to be happening - but I fear it won't be enough to show the benefits of sustainable transport. So the goal of a significant shift to sustainable transport won't happen. Yet.

Real priorities are funded in the Plan, including Lewes Road and Dyke Road cycle lanes, and expansion of area-wide 20 mph limits. The Plan contains real progress, but it doesn't promise a sustainable transport network throughout the city so I'm not convinced that it will improve public transport and cycling links enough to achieve a substantial 'modal shift' in the way people travel around the city.

Cycle lane - mixed use at bridge pinch point
I know it is a case of limited funds and limited political power. But we should remind ourselves of the objectives, and real possibilities that have worked in other cities. So I re-state the case for a East-West Sustainable Transport Corridor in Brighton and Hove (already outlined in the year 2000 Local Transport Plan 2).

Here is a (maybe radical) idea for testing the idea of a Sustainable Transport Corridor. We have already temporarily closed the Old Shoreham Road to construct a cycle lane. Can we extend the experiment by keeping the bridge over the railway (by Silverdale Road) closed to private cars? Only open to buses, cycles, walkers, taxis, local trades, emergency traffic etc. Introduce rapid (limited stop) buses along the route and make rapid public transport from Mile Oak to Brighton Central a realistic alternative to cars? We could show the public that sustainable transport is about more than just cycling.

There is already sustainable transport action in the city - I live near the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane construction scheme, and I (among others) have cycled along the new cycle lanes though they're not yet officially open. The widened cycle lanes give cyclists like me a much better feeling not just of safety but of room to "be" - a sort of confidence in being a cyclist, rather than a marginalised eccentric in a torrent of dangerous traffic. The space for car traffic is reduced. There may be complaints that this reduced space slows traffic. But right now it's closed and there is no traffic. The city survives. Boys play football on the Old Shoreham Road and it feels great to be car-free.

So this might be a good time to argue that the Old Shoreham Road should not be seen as an 'artery' for private motor traffic in greater Brighton-Hove-Portslade. We have the A27 bypass for people who want to drive between the suburbs. We want to reduce rat-run commuter traffic traffic in our residential areas because it is dangerous for children and cyclists. But it seems cars are the only fast way to get about town. We need a Rapid Bus Transport route. Could we re-propose the Old Shoreham Road become a Sustainable Transport corridor, where it's fast, safe and pleasant to cycle, walk and use buses? I guess these preliminary moves on Old Shoreham Road might turn out to be a first step in this direction. We don't need to jump at an untried 'Sustainable Transport Corridor' if we can implement and test it step by step.

We might make the transition easier if we engage motorists with planning alternative routes. I spoke to a lady who said it took an hour for her to drive from her home in Portslade to her job in Central Brighton the other day - including parking (in free-parking QP/Hanover). She says she lives too far from Portslade station to use the train. Can we show we do respect car drivers by talking to her of the alternatives: use the A27 and park for free. Or catch a bus and train... already we know that bus-train will involve long waits and slow buses... we're back to the need for a rapid bus. Likewise it can take an hour by bus from central Hove to Woodingdean or Moulescomb depending on your luck with traffic and connections.

So we need an east-west sustainable transport corridor, with feeds from the suburbs such as Mile Oak - maybe with with a fork running up the Lewes Road and to the Deans. It's not enough to say, as Mary Mears did, that there's a perfectly good cycle route along the coast. Most people don't live or work close to that route. It needs to be a transport backbone rather than on the edges of the city. There's stuff to work out. Lots of people don't like cycling. Try cycling to Woodingdean from central Brighton - the hills! Could we provide buses with cycle space? Many people don't cycle so rapid public transport is key to a sustainable transport corridor.

If handled right a Sustainable Transport Corridor might be acceptable to motorists and cyclists as an experiment, especially considering the road is already closed. Rapid buses would need to be provided. It would be good to show that the vision behind sustainable transport is more than a cycle lane in congested traffic.

Link to Brighton and Hove City Council Local Transport Plan Capital Programme 2012/13

Thursday, 1 March 2012

If we kept the Old Shoreham Road closed to cars? Unexpected side effect of cycle lane construction - quiet residential streets

There has been some complaining in the letters page of the Argus: the closure of the Old Shoreham Road to build cycle lanes has apparently increased journey times for some of those who like to commute the mile or two from Hove to Brighton by car. But it hasnt brought the city to a halt, and I think it shows us we don't really need these "arteries" for cars as much as we think we do.

I happen to live in the area affected near the railway bridge. Normally our street is a hectic 'rat run' for cars associated with the Old Shoreham Road traffic. Now, it's blissfully quiet.

My friends who drive cars tell me its a pain having to use alternative routes, such as the A27 bypass, to get from Hove to Brighton. But it's not really that much of a pain, a few minutes extra.

If we closed the Old Shoreham Road to car traffic, then the buses would run superfast into Brighton. And my friends might think of taking a bus to get to the other side of town. Or even, heaven forbid, a bike.

This is the kind of city planning used by the Dutch. Design the residential areas in 'cells' using one way systems to control traffic. To get between 'cells' by walking or cycling or bus, use the most direct route. But if you want to go by car, you have to use a longer, fast flowing bypass: you can't "rat run" through the residential streets (injuring people along the way). 37% of journeys in Holland are by cycle, only 2% in the UK. We need to change the way we design our cities.

I thought it needed an integrated city plan to work properly. We need the rapid buses AND we need to rearrange traffic priorities AND we cycling and walking routes... or maybe the way is to do it quietly, one street at a time...

Convert car lanes to bus-and-cycle lanes, says Jo Walters Masterplan for Brighton's traffic blackspot


1 March 2011. An independent study has called for car lanes to be converted to bus-and-cycle-lanes in Brighton's Lewes Road traffic black spot, and for an immediate end to mixed 2-way cycle-pedestrian traffic along the kerb of the A270/A27 merge slip road where Jo Walters died.

On Friday last week (24 Feb) the Jo Walters Trust released a "Cycling Masterplan" for the A27/A270 Falmer Interchange, where newly qualified school teacher, Jo Walters, lost her life in an accident in 2010.

The Masterplan, authored by traffic planning expert Paul Mynors, recommends "converting the inner (left hand) lane of the A270 in each direction into a wide bus/cycle lane. Within these wide lanes, cycle lanes would be provided where the width is sufficient (4.5m or more). Elsewhere, cyclists would share the inner lane with buses".

This would have the effect of extending on-road cycle lanes coming out of Brighton on the A270 to the east, where at present, cyclists in some places have to share pavements with pedestrians and other cyclists going in the opposite direction.

For those not familiar with the area, the A270, also known as the Lewes Road, is the main link between Brighton and the universities of Brighton and Sussex, the Amex Sports stadium, the city of Lewes and it is a designated Regional cycle route, D90.

The Masterplan says:
"A check on traffic flows showed that in principle this [reduction from 2 lanes of car traffic to one lane] should be possible, now that the A27 Brighton bypass has opened and removed long distance traffic from the area. Between junctions, the flows on the A270 are no longer such as to require two lanes in each direction for general traffic. In 2007 the two-way weekday peak hour flow on the A270 northeast of Coldean Lane was slightly under 1,600."
At the time Paul Mynors started consultations on this project, in May 2011, Brighton and Hove City Council won a £4m grant from the Department of Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) to make improvements to the Lewes Road, aka A270. The council has been refining these proposals, and invited the public to contribute. One of the new ideas (not included in the original Lewes Road LSTF scheme) was to convert the inner (left hand) lane of the A270 in each direction into a wide bus/cycle lane.  

Plans for Lewes Road will be the subject of detailed public consultation in 2012, following initial consultations undertaken in November / December 2011.

Jo's family started the Jo Walters Trust, which funds diverse community projects, and employed transport consultants to make cycling safer. Transport planner Peter Mynors developed the Masterplan following local consultations that started with a meeting at Brighton and Hove Council offices on 24 May 2011. 

Community cycle groups Bike Train & Lewes Road for Clean Air (LRCA) worked with the Trust and transport planner Peter Mynors in developing this plan.

LRCA spokesperson Duncan Blinkhorn said on Friday 25 February: "Jo was a Brighton University student who was killed in an accident while cycling along the cycle track by the Lewes Road at Falmer in July 2010. A tragic accident due in part to the inadequate width of the shared two-way cycle track at the A270/A27 interchange outside Sussex University."

Mr Blinkhorn added: "The plan has also informed the City Council's developing vision for The Lewes Road which will go out for consultation from 16th April. We look forward to doing more to help turn these ideas into a reality of improved cycling conditions during the coming months and years."

At the spot where Jo Walters was killed the cycle lane runs on the pavement alongside the A270 as it feeds onto the A27. Here, the Masterplan makes a call for immediate action: east and westbound cycle traffic should be separated by signage - east-bound (uphill) cycle traffic only should use the pavement alongside the A270. Westbound, downhill traffic should use the quieter, parallel Stoney Mere Road. If the Masterplan was fully implemented, so far as I can see, the left hand lane of the A270 will be converted to a bus and cycle lane as far as the actual merge with the A27 - and then it will leave the A27 and join Stoney Mere Road.

In addition, the Masterplan details secondary cycle  lanes around the area, and champions a 'nodal' system of cycle lane sign posting, a system which reportedly works well in the Netherlands. In a complex network of cycle routes, cyclists need more than route numbers to guide them.

For a copy of the Masterplan, please visit the Jo Walters Trust http://www.jowalterstrust.org.uk/

Friday, 13 January 2012

Slow start for 20 mph speed limits in Brighton and Hove's residential areas

Limits to augment 20 mph "zones"
A 20 mph speed limit around Stanford schools in Brighton and Hove will start in January. The Green Party won leadership of the council in May 2011 local elections, with a manifesto that promised to "press for a 20mph limit" for residential areas in the city.

Councillor Ian Davey, the city council's Cabinet Member for Transport and Public Realm, said: "This is a first step and we will be looking closely at how this pilot scheme works to shape future proposals - we hope to work with local people on a roll-out of 20mph limits in other communities across the city."

A council press release on 11 January 2012 said: "Speed limits will be cut to 20mph around Stanford Infant and Junior Schools and surrounding residential streets in Brighton this month, following concerns raised by local people and a review of speed limits by Brighton & Hove City Council.

"The pilot scheme will take effect on January 18 and cover fifteen roads around the schools where the speed limit is currently 30 mph.

"In addition, speed limits will be reduced from 40 to 30 mph by Brighton & Hove City Council in three other locations - on Lewes Road, from Natal road to Moulsecoomb Way; Falmer Road, from Brownleaf Road, Woodingdean to Rottingdean;and Old Shoreham Road, from Hove Cemetery to Locks Hill, Portslade.

Proposals for a second 20mph pilot scheme, in Portslade old village, will be considered at the city council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Cabinet Member meeting on January 24.

Councillor Ian Davey said: "We've listened to local people who are concerned about road safety in the Stanford area, and carried out a review of speed limits which has identified the roads around Stanford schools and local residential streets as suitable for a pilot 20 mph scheme.

Consultation was carried out with the schools in the autumn about the Stanford scheme and there were no objections when traffic orders, giving details of the proposed changes, were advertised.

Madeleine Denyer, head teacher at Stanford Infant School, said: "The safety and well-being of all children is of paramount importance. The 20mph pilot scheme can only benefit the whole community. It should help allow our children to walk, scooter or cycle to school safely, help decrease traffic congestion around our schools and benefit the environment."

Giovanni Franceschi, headteacher at Stanford Junior School, said: "We welcome the new 20mph limit. We have had some near misses around the school and teachers, parents and pupils have all been concerned about safety."

A final decision on the Portslade scheme, which covers the area around Peter Gladwin Primary, St Nicholas C Of E Junior, Portslade Infants and Hillside Special School, will be made by Cllr Davey at the meeting on January 24 after two objections were received when the traffic order for that scheme was advertised.

The roads included in the 20mph scheme around Stanford Schools are Highcroft Villas, Port Hall Avenue, Port Hall Place, Port Hall Street, Port Hall Road, Stanford Road, Coventry Street, Exeter Street, Stafford Road, Chatsworth Road, Buxton Road, Lancaster Road, Upper Hamilton Road, Hamilton Road and Brigden Street.

There are already a number of "20mph zones" in Brighton & Hove, many in the vicinity of schools. Others include North Street, Western Road, the Hanover area and Bevendean.

However, the pilot scheme in the Stanford area will be the city's first 20mph speed limit area. (Zones differ from speed limit areas because zones also include traffic calming measures in addition to a 20mph limit).

Friday, 11 November 2011

Parking review to keep roads and bus lanes moving will start immediately in Brighton and Hove - as Lewes Road consultation gets underway

Buses manoeuvre around parked cars on Lewes Road above The Level - Google
Friday, 10 November 2011. A review of car parking in Brighton and Hove, aimed at improving traffic flow, will start immediately in some parts of the city, according to an announcement by the city council yesterday.

The announcement said: "The citywide parking review will aim to improve service for all."

Councillor Ian Davey, cabinet member for transport and the public realm, said: "We also have to strike a balance between competing interests so that parking management is fair and achieves our aims of reducing congestion, maintaining safe access, and keeping the city moving on our roads and bus lanes."

Cllr Davey is a member of the Green Party who lead council and who have a manifesto commitment to promoting sustainable transport.

Also today, a public consultation - about the traffic clogged and polluted Lewes Road - got under way. Although not specifically included in the parking review, of the items on this agenda will be parked cars clogging up the Lewes road and slowing traffic flow for all road users.

The decision to start the parking review immediately was taken at a special meeting of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Cabinet (Wednesday, 9 November). The original decision was 'called in' by the Environment & Community Safety Overview & Scrutiny Committee with a request to reconsider reviews of parking schemes separately from a citywide parking review. The committee also asked that the cabinet look at bringing forward a review of parking in the Wish area of Hove.

At today's meeting, councillor Davey agreed to review the timetable and resources for work on residents' parking to see whether this could be accelerated and begin consultation on the following four residents' parking schemes:
Richmond Heights (Area C extension)
Canning Street (Area H extension)
London Road (Area J extension north of the railway line and Round Hill area)
Preston Park (Area A northern extension)

Councillor Ian Davey said: "These schemes have been selected as the most pressing from information provided by ward councillors and residents. They are also the most urgent in terms of road safety, with high levels of congestion and double parking.

"Parking is a complex issue for the city. I have taken on board the views expressed by the scrutiny committee and representations from residents and ward councillors.

"Rather than waiting for the outcome of the citywide parking review, I have decided to take action now to progress urgent work on residents' parking. Work on these schemes is not incompatible with the citywide review as one will inform the other."

Proposals for other resident's parking schemes will be taken into account as part of the citywide parking review. The review will take a year to complete, with a commitment to provide an update within six months.

Residents and businesses from across the city will have the opportunity to take part in the review and their input will shape the future of the city's parking service.

The review will cover public on and off-street parking. It will investigate long term parking issues and how the council should consult in the future, as well as looking at the best practice of other councils.

Councillor Davey said: "It is important that any consultation is meaningful and that we give residents and businesses the opportunity to help shape the future of parking management. We want to know what's working well and what doesn't work.

"The review will involve cross-party contributions through the scrutiny process and we'll be directly consulting residents groups and organisations such as the police and fire service. All the information provided will be invaluable to achieving the best outcome for the city.

"We also have to strike a balance between competing interests so that parking management is fair and achieves our aims of reducing congestion, maintaining safe access, and keeping the city moving on our roads and bus lanes."

There will be various ways the public can take part, via the website, and through a survey to be sent to 6,000 random addresses across the city.

Once residents, businesses, councillors and organisations have had the opportunity to shape the content of the review, public consultation will take place in the spring of next year.
Related information

Read the report discussed at the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Cabinet Members Meeting

Find out more about parking in Brighton & Hove

Plan your journey

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Lewes Road sustainable consultation starts Friday - opinion: we need a rapid transport route

Brighton's city council has announced a series of exhibitions to consult the public about the grant it was awarded to fix up the Lewes Road - probably the city's most polluted and dangerous roadway.

In my opinion, (at the end of this article), I suggest that whatever else is done, we need a well thought-out, expert, citywide, sustainable transport plan. I'm not sure we have that yet. We might try to work toward that goal, and build a single rapid, sustainable transport link.

In a press release dated 26 October 2011 a council spokesperson said: "Residents are being invited to a series of exhibitions on revamping one of Brighton's biggest and busiest main roads."

In April this year, the council won £4.2m of government funding for a scheme proposed under the previous Tory administration to "improve the transport flows, street scene and air quality along Lewes Road and surrounding streets. The sum will be added to £2.5m in contributions from other local partners," according to the spokesperson.

The council consultation will take place during November and December with series of local exhibitions. The spokesperson said: "The shows will be an opportunity for residents and businesses to learn more about the council's broad proposals – and to make their own suggestions. Feedback from the exhibitions will then be used to help draw up more detailed plans before more consultation next year."

Cabinet councillor for transport Ian Davey said: "This is part of our priorities to make Brighton & Hove a more sustainable city and to engage more closely with residents. Lewes Road looks rather untidy in places, it can be frustrating and difficult to travel along and is also one of our worst streets for air pollution. We have some broad aims and now we want to canvass the views of local people to come up with a more detailed plan."

Council officers will be on hand for a chat and a questionnaire available to fill in. The questionnaire can also be completed online.

Duncan Blinkhorn, of the local community group Lewes Road for Clean Air, urged members of the public to participate: "This investment is a rare opportunity to bring about some real improvements to cycling conditions along this route which could be used by thousands more people on bikes than at present. At Bike Train (& Lewes Road Cycle Vision) meetings we have talked about enabling a shift from the current 2% toward 10% of Lewes Road journeys by bike and reducing car journeys and associated congestion and pollution. Let's ensure that these Lewes Road improvements make a real change toward that."

Duncan provided a consultation detailed timetable (see below). A similar but less detailed timetable is found on the council website. There is also a link for an online questionaire on the council website. Times vary – for details see www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/lewesroad or call 01273 290487 (council number). 

Exhibition/Consultations Timetable
(supplied by Lewes Road for Clean Air)

Hollingdean
Mon 7th Nov - Thurs 10th Nov, 9am-5pm,
At Hollingdean Community Centre, Thompson Rd, Hollingdean BN1 7BH
01273 236160
Council officers present:
• Fri 11th November, 2pm-8pm
• Sat 12th November, 10am-4pm

Coldean
Mon 14th Nov - Fri 18th Nov
At New Larchwood Community Café, Waldron Avenue, Coldean BN1 9EZ
Council officers present:
• Tues 15th November, 10am-8pm
• Sat 19th November, 10am-4pm

Hanover
Mon 21st, Wed 23rd & Sat 26th Nov
At Hanover Community Centre, 33 Southover St, Hanover area BN2 9UD
Council officers present:
• Mon 21st November, 3pm-6pm
• Wed 23rd November, 12pm-4pm
• Sat 26th November, 9am-1pm

Moulsecoomb
Mon 28th Nov - Fri 2nd Dec, during normal opening times,
At Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre (bar area), Moulsecoomb Way, Moulsecoomb BN2 4PB
Council officers present:
• Fri 2nd December, 2pm-8pm
• Sat 3rd December, 10am-4pm

Bevendean
Thu 8th Dec – Sat 10th Dec
At Church Hall, Church of the Holy Nativity, Norwich Drive , Bevendean BN2 4LA
Council officers present:
• Thurs 8th December, 9am-4pm
• Fri 9th December, 2pm-8pm
• Sat 10th December, 10am-4pm

My Opinion:
As readers of this blog know, I think the many of the proposals as made in the Lewes Road grant bid were good, and I await the council's revised proposals with anticipation.

We want to achieve real change, but we risk tinkering around the edges of a poor transport route. Real time bus signs and routes to the South Downs are important - but the underlying traffic plan in the city is slow and dangerous for non-car users. Until we address that, then we won't solve the underlying problem, and the plan risks failing to deliver any substantial change. (I discussed this when the award was made: link here)

So: in my opinion, we need to start with a city-wide sustainable transport plan. This might involve consulting with experts, maybe even selecting an expert group to produce a city plan for B&H if that is what is needed.

If that is not allowed because the plan must be localised to the Lewes Road, then let's concentrate on the core plan for this route: a clear, sustainable traffic route from say Falmer (or Lewes) to Brighton railway station and feed in routes from suburbs. That means a route for public transport, cycling and walking that is fast, convenient, attractive and safe - and considers transport in the depths of winter and solutions for the hills. A Rapid Bus Service and safe cycle and walking routes to connect Unversities and hard-to-get-to residential suburbs with central railway station and town centre seem needed. Radiating out from this central Rapid Bus route: strategic, cycle friendly buses up the areas steep hills would help people choose alternatives to the car.

Does an integrated public transport system seem too costly? Maybe. Then let's settle for a redesigned Lewes Road. Let's clear the clutter from the road, including the parked cars, so buses and cycles can easily get into town. Lets ask the bus companies to introduce some Rapid Bus Services (fewer stops, no bottlenecks caused by parked cars, priority at traffic lights and filters).

It's not fair that privately owned cars claim priority over sustainable and public transport. This is effectively what happens when parked cars block traffic.

Let's aim to make it as quick to travel around town by bus as it is by car. Cycle might be as fast - at least down hill!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Barriers needed to separate cyclists and pedestrians from motorised traffic - updated opinion on Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane Consultation

Aerial view of the OSR bridge pinchpoint - Google
I already signalled my support for this cycle route along the Old Shoreham Road (OSR) - it was intended to be the backbone of the city's cycle network and we need safer cycling along this road.

However, I'm concerned by the 'pinch point' of the railway bridge between Wilbury Crescent and Silverdale Road, where road width is narrows and the cycle lane will become a mixed cycle and pedestrian lane. In the original vision for the OSR cycle route it would carry up to 7,000 school children.

View while traveling on the bridge - Google
In my opinion the council should consider a barrier (or other safety measure) on the railway bridge to separate the mixed cycle-pedestrian lane from motorised traffic.  The planners might get expert advice on this. If they have considered the detail of this it should be discussed/shown on the proposal.

Another solution is to make the pinch point a single lane for motorised traffic, with traffic lights to control who goes first. Then we could have lanes for cyclists cars and pedestrians. Would this slow traffic? I don't think so - this is not the limiting point of the OSR.

In any event, if we look at the big picture, don't we want to discourage short hop commutes along this road - preferring commuters to use the bus, train or if they must travel 2 miles by car to use the A27 bypass. Of course, we have not yet made public transport the 'option of choice' - but if we introduced priority for Rapid Bus Transport links along Old Shoreham Road, and into the suburbs maybe people would decide to leave their cars at home.

If we can't reduce car traffic, one solution would be to construct a separate bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. This might cost money but would be a high profile icon of this city's commitment to sustainable transport, since this route was intended to be the backbone of the cycle network and this pinch point always was its weakest link. Central Government has a program for capital spending on sustainable transport (LSTF) - application deadline has passed for now, but maybe we can apply for this in future.

As shown the proposal lacks detail. What will the junctions look like? The lack of these details in previous proposals has caused concern. Also I would like to to see the cycle route rationale - ie, is it still intended to carry a certain number of cyclists?

So I think we could ask for more from the proposal. But even as it stands, it will be an improvement over the existing situation where school children are resorting to cycling along the pavement at various points along this road during during rush hour. Once we implement this proposal, they need only do this along the pinch point, and maybe in the future we can apply for funding for a foot and cycle traffic bridge.

To see full story and for link to B&H Council consultation portal

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cycle safety opinion: cycling safely is probably better for you

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have been rather fascinated by cycle safety stats over recent weeks. This is because I'm worried by the apparent contradiction of our efforts to get more people to cycle to work and school, when the stats say it's 17 times more dangerous on average to cycle a mile on A-roads in British Cities than it is to drive in a car.

I fear I'm sounding like I'm saying it's too dangerous to cycle. But I'm a cyclist, a Dad and a supporter of sustainable transport, so I want to see safer cycling in our cities, and to my mind that means segregating cars from cyclists and pedestrians. That's my point.

The issue is complex - do we compare causalities per journey, per hour or per mile? So far as I can see it's got to be per mile - if it's a mile to cycle cycle to school, that is what I'm interested in. Do we include risky teen cyclists in the stats, they make up 24% of casualties (see link below)? Well, for now I can't try to provide this analysis. I can only look at the averages - and the newspaper - and give my opinion.

My opinion is that stats make cycling, per mile, on average, look dangerous. But a carefully planned cycle route to work or school can be very safe - choose cycle routes separate from motor routes, eg across parks, along segregated cycle routes. If I am faced with the choice of joining a dangerous busy road, or a short stretch along a pavement - I would say "take the safe choice" and walk along the pavement.

Safe cycling gives plenty of health benefits. The link I give below talks about many of these other benefits, but in summary - if you choose to cycle, cycle safely, and your life path may probably be healthier than if you always choose motorised transport. In my opinion. And get your local authority to build safe, segregated cycle links for cyclists and pedestrians.

Here is link to a great (USA) site with an overview of the subject.
http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

Here's a link to a great website which discusses the issues of cycling to school in the UK - and a post on why we're failing compared to Holland.
http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/09/wake-up-britain-theres-work-to-be-done.html

Friday, 9 September 2011

New cycle parking opens at the front of Brighton station

Area cleared of cycle parking - new parking behind taxis at far end
9 September 2011. The new cycle parking has now opened at the front of Brighton station after a campaign to get the cycle parking reinstated when Southern Rail demolished it earlier this year.

The new bike parking is in a new position and smaller than the destroyed facility. During the absence of parking at the front of the station, dozens of bikes were chained to the railings outside the station daily.

The new parking is on the right hand side as you enter next to the transport police office and vehicles behind the taxi rank.

Councillor Ian Davey, who helped campaign for the reinstatement, said: "Thanks to everybody who helped with the campaign to encourage Southern to provide this facility and to them for responding so quickly. It is surrounded by a large fence and is well covered by CCTV so should be reasonably secure. Another Green win!We now need to make sure it is used."

In the pace where the old cycle racks were, there is now a fruit and veg stall.

Brighton road rage against cyclists: motorist hammer attack on cyclist; pedestrians confront cylists flouting lane control on the seafront

Brighton's Argus newspaper today reported that a cyclist was hit up to 15 times with a hammer in a road rage attack.

The Argus report said police believe the driver struck because he was irritated the 60-year-old cyclist was taking too long to ride up a hill while struggling against the wind preventing the driver from passing. The cyclist was apparently not seriously injured.

More on this story: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9242970.Hove_cyclist_beaten_15_times_with_hammer_for_riding_too_slowly/

Also today, the Argus reported confrontations between pedestrians and cyclists in the King's Esplanade area - where the National Cycle Route No 2 cycle lane abruptly terminates and joins vehicular traffic.

The Argus said: "Cyclists are repeatedly flouting the rules on riding their bikes on the seafront leading to confrontations with pedestrians."

For more on this: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9241224.Cyclists_flout_rules_on_Hove_seafront/

Accidental death of cyclist on Lewes Road: safer cycle lanes on A roads are needed

In edition no 88 of Bricycles Newsletter, Tony Green provided a report on the inquest into the death of cyclist Joanna Walters on the Lewes Road in June 2010. The verdict was accidental death.

But we can, and need to make urban A Roads safer for cyclists - especially where they are designated cycle routes.

Mr Green is Treasurer and Membership Secretary of cycle campaign organisation Bricycles. He wrote: "Jo’s death was a terrible accident, which almost certainly would not have happened if there had been a proper barrier between the cycle track and the road. Will anything be done to make this location safer for cyclists and pedestrians?"

He wrote that the cycle lane conformed to standards when it was built, so "we’ll probably just carry on hoping another tragedy won’t happen. Although much lip service is now paid to cycling there remains little evidence of it being taken seriously by the authorities".

Joanna was cycling along Regional Cycle Route 90 which connects Brighton with Lewes and takes in Sussex and Falmer Universities. Where the accident happened (at the underpass where the Lewes Road/A270 merges with the A27) the cycle lane runs alongside the busy A270 and is shared by cyclists going on both directions and pedestrians. Apparently, Joanna was cycling into Brighton, another cyclist was coming the other way, there was a little confusion about their positions, their shoulders touched and Joanna was clipped by a delivery van traveling along the road.

It was a tragic accident, the coronor recorded.

But, as Tony Green suggests, a barrier such as a fence might have prevented this accident.

I agree with Mr Green, and further, I point out that this is not an isolated case. When you consider the statistics, with urban A roads claiming 17 times more casualties among cyclists than among car drivers, per mile travelled, we should be doing do more to protect cyclists from motor vehicles.

Yes, this means segregated facilities that separate cyclists (and pedestrians) from motor transport.

Where space is limited, we may have to used mixed pedestrian-cycle lanes. Mixed use is not ideal - pedestrians and cyclists mixed up does cause confusion and sometimes accidents, but it rarely leads to serious injuries. We would prefer separate lanes for each direction of cycle travel and for pedestrians, but where this is not possible, we must separate this mixed use pedestrian-cycle lane from motorised traffic with a sturdy barrier to prevent cyclists accidentally straying onto the path of rushing cars.

The government is encouraging people to cycle to school and work. If this is the case they should provide safer cycling facilities along designated cycle routes, separating vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians from motor cars so that accidents like this one are less likely to occur.

A trust celebrating the life of Joanna Walters can be found at http://www.jowalterstrust.org.uk

Bricycles website can be found at: http://www.bricycles.org.uk/