Sunday, 20 February 2011

Opinion: Why bother ripping out a cycle lane in residential Hove?

Brighton & Hove's budget proposals link below
20 Feb 2011. People are puzzled over this story and asked for more info about the plans to rip out the Hove cycle lane. The plans are found in the (minority Conservative controlled) council budget proposals made public on 11 Feb - clause 3.11. They still need to be approved in full council on March 3. (Link to the budget PR below)

It's a bit disheartening because the budget boasts mainly of saving £82 million over five years to fund a 1% reduction in council tax. Opposition councillors warning that cuts are causing the loss of jobs in "front-line services" and will pose critical problems for the city. Meantime the budget proposes spending £1.1m on ripping out cycle lanes and £4.5m doing up car parks!

Much of the cycle lane is in Tory heartland but the Greens are pushing hard and Goldsmid was taken by the Greens at the 2009 by election. Maybe this cycle-lane-crushing move is to shore up the core Tory vote by acting tough on cyclists. (My personal opinion, I hasten to add, but car parking is identified as a core concern in B & H).

Yellow Bear in her post mentioned 'safety issues' about drivers turning off The Drive into their driveways. Drivers have to cross the cycle path to get to their houses. A steady stream of cyclists might make it hard to turn into your driveway. Also, cars parked on the kerb might obscure the cycle lane which is set into the kerb. It's partly about old habits - cars have to check to see if cyclists are coming from a place they hadn't before - and partly it's badly planned.

A layman's speculation into how to remedy the situation follows. Allocate a parking place on the kerbside alongside each driveway, for drivers to pull into and observe the cycle lane, before they cross the cycle lane. Another solution that comes to mind would be to make the centre of The Drive into a segregated cycle freeway. That would have been really revolutionary. OK, cyclists would have to join it at junctions using the cycle stop lanes. But if it was wide and car free all the way from the South Downs to the Coast - what a pleasure.

(IMO) The Tory administration is pro-car or maybe simply anti-change, and cycle and other sustainable transport plans (Valley Gardens Project) over the recent years have been so half-hearted they have partly failed or been cancelled: Old Shoreham Road, Madeira Drive, Marine Parade and now the Drive. This amounts to a serious reversal of the schemes that got the "Cycling City Status" and the "Transport Authority of the Year Award" last year.

Link to Council Budget PR with link to PDF of the budget proposals
Text of clause 3.11
This year’s transport funding is entirely from capital grant providing the council with real additional cash to spend on capital. A grant topslice of £1.503m is proposed in order to maintain corporate funds at planned levels. Without investment in these corporate funds there is a risk that the council will create additional revenue pressures, (for example through backlogs in maintenance programmes), or fail to deliver planned savings (for example through better use of technology to drive efficiency savings). In order to improve the visual impact and traffic flow along this important north – south corridor including access to the A27 / A23 from the A259 /210 Shoreham Harbour it is proposed to remove the cycle lane along both sides of Grand Avenue and The Drive. An indicative cost of removing the lanes including changes to the signalling is £1.1m to be funded by a further topslice from LTP grant. Detailed costings have yet to be undertaken and any residual funds would be given back to the LTP. There is a low risk that up to £0.3m grant funding may need to be repaid.
This story originally posted in response to enquiry about where to find the plans on Yellow Bear's Flickr video: link here

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