|Councillor Ian Davey leads the protest ride|
The plans to scrap the cycle lane, at a cost of £1.1m, were revealed in Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget proposals, made public last week. The plans have provoked protests from across the country, including from Sustrans, the charity that promotes sustainable travel in the UK.
Despite the dismal weather around thirty cyclists gathered at the corner of The Drive and Cromwell Road in Hove at noon. Councillor Ian Davey, Green Party spokesperson for Transport led the group on a cycle ride down the threatened cycle lane to the King’s House council offices.
Councillor Davey said: “I’m so pleased so many people came out in the rain at such short notice. This is just the start of this protest. The Conservative administration led by Councillor Mary Mears will have to withdraw this proposal if they want get their budget passed by the council. We have every hope that Labour will vote with the Greens to overturn this budget when it comes before council for approval on 3 March.”
The Conservatives have minority control of Brighton and Hove City Council and suffered a previous defeat in full council at the hands of Green and Labour councillors.
Tony Green, membership secretary of cycle campaign group Bricycles, was at the protest. He said: This cycle lane was part of a scheme to provide safe cycle routes across the city. The Drive was to link the seafront with Hove Rec and Hangleton and ultimately it was to improve access to the South Downs, which is now become a national park. That linkage was never completed.”
Mr Green said: “There have been questions about whether these lanes cause safety problems for cars trying to access driveways. If these are genuine concerns, let them be addressed. Don’t just remove the lanes.”
On Wednesday 16 February, Brighton’s Argus newspaper published data it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that revealed both numbers of accidents and reported people injured have dropped by 20% since The Drive cycle lane was installed in 2008. Specifically: “Between 2005 and 2007 there were a total of 41 accidents and 52 casualties along the entire stretch. Between 2008 and 2010 this dropped to 32 accidents and 42 casualties”.
|Alex Phillips is Green Party Councillor for Goldsmid in Hove|
“We launched the petition a few days ago, aiming to get a full council debate on the subject. Already we have 1,200 signatures, many online. Brighton’s status as a city of sustainable transport is of national interest, ”she added.
Brighton & Hove council’s transport team picked up the Transport Authority of the Year award at the National Transport Awards in Manchester on 15 July last year. It was commended for cycling improvements that saw cycling in the city increase by 27% since 2006.
Councillor Davey said: “If they go ahead with spending a million pounds scrapping this cycle lane it will be the transport laughing stock of the year and it will be bottom of the class for cycling.”
The 2011 budget proposals, released Friday 11 Feb, revealed the plans to remove the cycle lanes. The reason cited was to “improve the visual impact and traffic flow along this important north – south corridor including access to the A27/A23 from the A259/Shoreham Harbour".
Councillor Davey said: “I wonder if Councillor Mears has consulted local residents about whether they will welcome this road becoming an artery for heavy vehicles on their way to Shoreham Harbour.”
Councillor Davey asked those who support the campaign to sign the petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43064.html .