Day of action to build public support for safe walking and cycling routes this Saturday
Safe and convenient solutions for pedestrians and cyclists to get around town will be in focus in a day of action on Saturday 22 April, not least the Walking and Cycling Strategy adopted by Hastings Borough Council three years ago but still awaiting implementation. Nick Terdre reports.
Saturday 22 April is Sustainable Transport Day, which is backed by Hastings Urban Bikes (HUB), Hastings Greenway Group (HGG), Rother Ramblers, Transition Town Hastings and 1066 Cycle Club, as well as Hastings Green Party.
In 2014, Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and East Sussex County Council (ESCC) adopted the Hastings Walking and Cycling Strategy – drawn up following consultations between the two councils. The strategy sets out various cycling and walking routes, including a cycling route through Alexandra Park and routes running through the town from east to west.
The lack of progress in implementing the strategy has recently galvanised local groups into action. They have worked to engage both the public, through a series of walks along stretches of the proposed greenway route through Hastings, and East Sussex County Council, which has also adopted the strategy, over what they see as inappropriate road sections in the council’s proposed walking and cycling network in town.
Meeting with ESCC
A positive meeting with ESCC officers was held earlier this month which will lead to more exchanges. It was agreed that HGG would deliver a copy of its design report of the proposed Ore Valley Greenway route for ESCC’s consideration – it was due to be handed over this week.
“We are now engaged in a dialogue with ESCC and have been named as stakeholders for consultation over the walking and cycling routes in Hastings,” Tony Polain, who attended the meeting on behalf of Ore Community Land Trust, told HOT.
Also present were Steve Foreman of HGG, David Young of Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, Mike Riley of Rother Ramblers, Tim Goodwin of HUB, Rebecca Polain of Hastings Advice and Representation Centre and HUB, and two HBC representatives, including council leader Cllr Peter Chowney.
Opportunities to get involved
Sustainable Transport Day will provide more opportunities for members of the public to become involved in the campaign. It will begin at 10am with a protest cycle ride from the pier through the town centre to the station. Participants are asked to ring their bells – in fact a prize is offered for the cyclist with the best or most bells.
At 11am the action switches to the Central Hall next door to the Body Shop in Station Road where Caroline Russell, the Green Party spokesperson on local transport, who successfully made the case for 20 mph speed limits on main roads in Islington, will give an address. That will set the scene for a general discussion on questions of sustainable transport.
The Central Hall will also house an exhibition of the greenway concept and how it could be applied in Hastings.
Ore Valley walk reprised
The day will round off with a walk along the route of the proposed Ore Valley Greenway, meeting at Ore station at 2pm. Boots are recommended in case of muddy ground. A previous walk along this route in January attracted some 70 participants.
“The Hastings Walking and Cycling Strategy provides a fantastic opportunity for making walking and cycling easier, safer and more enjoyable in our town,” said Julia Hilton of Hastings Green Party. “At a time when we’re facing serious threats from air pollution and climate change, it is particularly important to encourage people to walk or cycle rather than drive.
“We invite everyone to come along to find out more about sustainable transport locally, and to call on Hastings Borough Council to make the implementation of this strategy a priority.”
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