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:

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).