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Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Walkers and cyclists show the green way

Friday April 27 saw the launch of a major new campaign for greener, safer and more pleasant routes for walkers and cyclists in Hastings & St Leonards, in particular a proposal for a new track beside the railway linking Station Plaza to Ore Station and College Annexe in Parker Road. Ian Sier of Hastings Urban Bikes reports, in the week that also sees the official opening of the Bulverhythe Link and the related attempt at 1,000 Kissing Bikes – see here for our earlier story.

The Greenway project will create a ‘green corridor’, including a section alongside the railway line, which will allow cyclists and walkers to avoid busy roads and make direct journeys from Station Plaza to reach Ore Valley in one direction, and in the other direction to Silverhill and Hollington with a further branch up to the Ridge and the Conquest hospital at a later stage.

Britain already has some 3,500 miles of Greenway, created as part of the National Cycle Network and designed for very high levels of usage – they are invariably hugely popular in towns and cities where they’ve been introduced, becoming places of recreation as well as routes from A to B.

More than just a cycle way

A Greenway is a traffic-free route for walkers and cyclists of all ages and abilities which can also incorporate an attractive and direct green corridor, with tree and shrub planting, seating, view points and public art. In Hastings the Greenway route will benefit from connecting to Alexander Park and passing through the woodland of Ore Valley, linking together some of the town’s valuable green spaces.

The Hastings Greenway will provide a real opportunity to raise awareness of footpaths and promote their use throughout the town, as well as providing a safe, clean and green alternative to cars for many short journeys.

Hastings is fortunate in having a cycle-friendly promenade. The cycle way extension to the Stade was opened in the summer of 2011and the Bulverhythe Link from Hastings to Bexhill was opened in January 2012, both of which have helped to extend the cycle network. The Bulverhythe route in particular is already proving extremely popular with both walkers and cyclists – proving that once these facilities are in place people really do enjoy and make use of them.

These new routes are very welcome but it is the lack of safe urban cycle routes in the rest of the town that’s the greatest barrier to utility and leisure cycling. Hastings has suffered from decades of under-investment in cycle infrastructure, and people are put off by the steep hills, busy roads and sometimes dangerous junctions. The Greenway, by contrast, uses only flat land or reasonable gradients to smooth out the journey to higher ground.

Family friendly

Traffic-free routes such as this are particularly appealing to families with children, people returning to cycling after many years, inexperienced and less confident cyclists, and walkers of all abilities. They are also fully accessible for the disabled.

Hastings has a comprehensive network of footpaths, which are designated as public rights of way and thus protected. The Greenway would help to link them and facilitate the creation of marked routes and interesting circular walks.

The Hastings Greenway will provide the crucial backbone of a network of routes that would enable most residents to cycle in safety or walk into and across the town. It will also connect to the seafront, rail stations, schools, parks, shopping areas and more.

A broad partnership

Early in 2012 Hastings Urban Bikes (HUB) presented their plans for the Greenway network to Hastings Borough Councillors who expressed their support. They have joined forces with Sussex Coast College, University College Hastings, Station Plaza Health Centre, the local Ramblers and neighbourhood and community groups in order to drive the project forward. Amber Rudd MP has given her backing and offered to help. The project is also being supported by Sustrans, the UK’s leading charity campaigning to enable more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for their everyday journeys.

This exciting network will only be achievable if it is taken on by a strong, broad base of local organisations working in partnership and the local authorities make a definite commitment to obtain the necessary funding. It is proposed to set up a task force of participating organisations and local authorities in order to achieve this.

In conjunction with the Hastings Observer HUB and Ramblers launched the public campaign to seek the support of individuals and other organisations that can help and to make the case for funding to turn this vision into a reality.

Please show your support by sending a brief letter to:

Richard Gladstone, Wood House, Telford Road, St Leonards TN38 9LZ

 

For further information and to join HUB or the Ramblers contact:

HUB – Gordon Russell, Chair, email: info@hastingsurbanbikes.org  or see their website

Ramblers – Mike Riley, email:  mike.134@btinternet.com

Posted 14:39 Saturday, May 5, 2012 In: Campaigns

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