The Tory council in Hove in Sussex, a so-called Cycling Demonstration Town with it’s larger neighbour Brighton, has turned traitor to the sustainable transport cause by threatening to spend £1 million ripping out a section of the National Cycle Network.

And at the same time, spend £4.5 million improving car parking.

The news has shocked Sustrans, the founders of the 12,600-mile National Cycle Network.

The cycle lanes cost £500,000 when put in three years ago, as part of the council’s Cycling Demonstration Towns initiative.

The issue, which Sustrans first heard about on BBC Radio Sussex on Tuesday, has sparked a huge row in the council and local residents  have begun a petition.  Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said the Conservatives had demonstrated their prejudice against cycling and a distaste for sustainable travel options.

Green party transport spokesman, councillor Ian Davey  accused the ruling Conservative party of wasting public money at a time when  local authorities are having to make huge budget cuts.

The Conservatives say they are taking the cycle  lane in response to public demand.

Simon Pratt, Sustrans’ Regional Director for the South East, said he heard that the removal of the lanes was called for because of their “visual impact and effect on traffic.”
Sustrans say cycling levels in Hove have risen 27 per cent during the Cycling Demonstration Town Programme.

The lanes in question are on Grand Avenue and The Drive.

Pratt says: “If the Council wants to spend money wisely, it seems utter madness to remove routes at such a huge cost especially when they are well used by local people.  The cycle lanes in Grand Avenue form part of the National Cycle Network in this area, linking the seafront to the South Downs, and losing them would be a step backwards.”

Almost £3million has been spent by Brighton and Hove in improving conditions for cycling, and in response there has been a huge increase in the number of people cycling.

The BBC reported that the cycle lanes had sparked complaints about road width reduction and visibility problems. But cyclists had welcomed the improved safety of the segregated lanes which could be used by families with children.

One couple said they enjoyed cycling the route, but if the lanes were removed, they would have to put their bikes in the car, and go cycling elsewhere!

When Cycling Weekly contacted Hove Council Highways Department this morning, a spokesperson for cycling and walking initiatives, sounding really down in the mouth, was unable to comment other to express regret!

  • Alan

    The lanes in question are badly laid out and VERY LITTLE USED.
    Just because they are there does not mean they should stay. Fair play to the Brighton AND Hove City Council for seeing this.
    I hope your attitude turns the council against you so we never have these politically driven cycle lanes rammed upon us again. You use of the word Traitor is childish

  • AJR

    The cycle lanes are a waste of money. No one uses them. If they were even moderately used, cyclist would present a danger to pedestrians and vie versa by crossing the cycle path to get to either the bus stop or their own cars.
    The end of the cycle lanes stop well short of the traffic lights so drivers wishing to re-enter the nearside lane would be a danger to cyclists. The cycle lanes have also pushed out the roadside parking so effectively making a good two lane road into one with the added problems of causing traffic jams at lights where previously there were none and causing waiting times at these lights to rocket up and thus add to the very pollution they claim to be trying to alleviate.
    Badly thought out, expensive to do and all to please the mighty Sustrans. Wicked waste of money.

  • Dave

    Whilst I entirely agree with Rob’s comments, I think we have to recognise the need for adequate cycle paths and not the rubbish we get fobbed off by councils. At the moment I am working Monday to Friday in Lincoln and it is exactly as Rob describes. Not only that but your average commuter cyclist seems to think that they do not need lights.

    Having spent some 12 years living in Holland, the comparison is like chalk and cheese not just due to the cycle paths but also that in law the motorist has to prove he was not guilty in any accidents involving cyclists, the down side of this part of the law is that cyclists do tend to push their luck.

    Although Holland sounds like a cyclists paradise with the cycle paths you do have to share with families out for a run, in line skaters, horses, under a certain HP mopeds and invalid cars, so not all is rosy.

  • Jon

    To attack cycle lane per se is short sighted and doesn’t consider the needs of younger or less confident riders. Yes there are bad cycle lanes, but you have to consider the benefits of establishing an increased awareness of cyclists among drivers and more safe routes for cyclists.

  • rob marcus

    Good for Hove! Most cycle lanes are a bureaucratic trick, and unusable for adult, progressive cycle journeys as they suffer from so many deficiencies, such as being;

    1. too narrow
    2. too bumpy – especially those made from annexed pavement
    3. too full of puncture-inducing gravel and debris – especially those with a solid white line that discourages motor vehicles from ever entering and so ‘brushing them clean’
    4. too many toy-town ‘give way’ junctions along their length, making for stop-start progress
    5. too full of hazards, with (unpredictable) pedestrians and dogs, plus much street furniture (lamp-posts, trees, bins, railings, drain and manhole covers) at close proximity
    6. too segregationist – cyclists and vehicle drivers need to learn to mix. Using cycle lanes endorses misguided decision-making by bureaucrats on what an Integrated Transport Policy should look like.