Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Revival for 'crucial cycle lane' as Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane Scheme receives £330k funding from Sustrans

OSR planning story starts Nov 2009
3 August 2011. Brighton and Hove City Council announced today that it will revive the "crucial cycle lane" once planned for the Old Shoreham Road (OSR) - and scrapped by the previous Conservative council administration.

This is a special moment for cycle campaigners, and for the author of this blog, since the changes in spec, safety worries, and eventual scrapping of the 'OSR' scheme sparked interest in the campaign for sustainable transport in Brighton and Hove in 2009.

A council spokesperson said today: "A safe cycle route could now be built along part of one of Brighton & Hove's busiest roads. The city council has won £330,000 from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans to help develop a 1.5 km route along the Old Shoreham Road from the BHASVIC junction on Dyke Road to The Drive. Sustrans' 'Links to Schools' cash would be added to £125,000 of council funds to complete most of the work by March 2012.

"Lanes on either side of the road will have low kerbs to physically separate motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. No parking spaces will be lost under the plan. Two busy junctions on the route will also get safety improvements for pedestrians and cycles. Councillors believe the new lanes would fill a vital missing link in the local cycle network, particularly from the seafront in Hove to the Seven Dials area.

"Previous surveys of residents along the road, which carries up to 27,000 vehicles a day, have shown 66 per cent favour a dedicated cycle route."

Cabinet councillor for Transport and Public Realm Ian Davey said: "This shows the council meeting manifesto commitments to improve cycling facilities. Where we build cycle lanes we want them to be excellent, user-friendly and safe lanes which link to existing routes and facilities and really improve everyone's experience of moving around the city by bike.

"This is a crucial east-west route across the city but traffic speed and volume can make it an uncomfortable place for cyclists and pedestrians. The proposed scheme will make Old Shoreham Road safer for everyone including young people using the many nearby schools.

"When the Grand Avenue cycle lane was threatened last year there was a huge petition asking for the council to extend, rather than reduce, cycle facilities. This is our positive response."

A new consultation will now be undertaken before any work starts, subject to official cabinet member approval on August 17.

The council spokesperson added: 'The scheme is being reprieved by the new administration after councillors shelved the idea last year."

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the systematic destruction - by the Conservative administration - of plans to transform Brighton and Hove into a cycling city, or more accurately, into a sustainable transport city. These plans were the basis of the Cycle Town grants made to the city from 2005 by Cycling England. The Old Shoreham Road (OSR) Cycle Lane was the backbone of the scheme, providing a safe cycling link between the town centres of Brighton, Hove and Portslade. In 2009, the city planners under Conservative leadership removed segregated cycle lanes from the OSR plans and then found the scheme to be unsafe - and cancelled it. After that they cancelled the Marine Parade cycle lane scheme, and finally tried to rip up the one part of the scheme already installed - The Drive. Public protests, a big media campaign, and a huge swing at the May local elections saw the Tories lose half their seats, and the Greens gain power in the council.

Stuart Croucher, a member of the team who designed the original scheme, made an impassioned plea for the reinstatement of the scheme, and a powerful argument in favour of a network of segregated cycle lanes for young people and learners, in an interview he gave to this blog last year.

The original plans - and the 'crucial' part played by OSR cycle lane - are all shown in another entry on this blog.

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