Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The coronavirus crisis has prompted more people to get around by bike.

On yer bike, Hastings!

Cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable transport will be boosted by funding made available to local government. HBC says it is working with ESCC to find the best ways to make use of the money – when it arrives. Nick Terdre reports.

Transport minister Grant Shapps announced last month that £250 million was being made available under “plans to boost greener, active transport.” Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors would be created in England within weeks, he said.

The £250 million emergency active travel fund is the first stage of a £2 billion investment, itself part of a £5 billion package announced in February with the aim of levelling up transport services across the UK. With the country now in the grip of the coronavirus, the focus has shifted, for the time being at least, away from public transport.

“During this crisis, millions of people have discovered cycling – whether for exercise or as a means of safe, socially-distanced transport,” Shapps said. “…when the country does get back to work, we need those people to stay on their bikes and be joined by many more.”

Unprecedented? Certainly. Genuine? We wait to see. After years of prioritising road-building and while still pushing ahead with the H2S railway mega-project, the government has suddenly got the green transport bug.

Statutory guidance has been rushed into force directing councils to reallocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. The government hopes to maintain the trend towards cycling prompted by the coronavirus by issuing vouchers for cycle repairs and is planning to increase the provision of bike fixing facilities.

Last week East Sussex County Council told HOT they were still waiting to hear what their allocation would be, and until then they couldn’t start planning. Hasting Borough Council were more forthcoming, saying in a statement:

“There is more than a bit of smoke and mirrors going on here. In reality this is not new money but simply part of a £5 bn pot of funding for cycling, walking and public transport, which was originally announced in February 2020 – it has in effect been re-announced.”

Not so eye-catching

The council said it was working with ESCC as the highways authority to decide how the money would be used. But, they warned, the county council’s allocation would have to be shared out across the whole of East Sussex, so the part falling to Hastings and St Leonards, would “obviously [be] a whole lot less than the eye-catching figures announced.

Electric vehicle charging point in Marina car park, St Leonards. Both HBC, in its climate change strategy, and the government want to see more such points.

“That said, any new money, however small, is still welcome. We have submitted a list of potential ideas to ESCC… It is too early to say exactly where these schemes will be, but their focus is likely to be providing safe social distancing and access to shops, businesses, medical facilities and schools.”

The council said it was already working on developing a strategic network of cycle routes as part of ongoing work to tackle climate change. These would “link local communities with key services in the town including employment areas, healthcare, education and green spaces.

“We do hope that ESCC decide to go ahead with some of the ‘quick win’ schemes we have proposed.

“The turnaround for submitting to the scheme was ridiculously tight and officers from both the borough and the county deserve credit for managing to do this so quickly.

“Ultimately, of course, what we really need is a considered and detailed plan to revise and improve our transport infrastructure town-wide. Rather than piecemeal approaches, what we want is coordinated and long-term investment that increases connectivity and provides the modern transport system we so desperately need.”

The transport ministry plans to start trials of rental e-scooters.

As well as active travel, low carbon sustainable transport plays a key role in HBC’s climate change strategy.

It also forms part of the transport ministry’s plan. Trials of rental e-scooters are shortly to be launched and measures such as requiring the provision of rapid charging points are being considered to encourage a shift to electric vehicles.

Walking and cycling scheme goes ahead

Meanwhile ESCC has decided to move into detailed design and construction of the Hastings Western Pedestrian and Cycling Scheme – a shared cycle/walking route from Silverhill to the Combe Valley Greenway – under its 2020/21 capital programme for local transport improvements.

The scheme, which was supported by a substantial majority of respondents to a public consultation, was given the go-ahead by Cllr Claire Dowling, the lead member for Transport and Environment, at a remote meeting on 20 May.

Proposed route of the Hastings Western Pedestrian and Cycling Scheme.


Posted 13:20 Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Sarah M

    So tired of hearing about dangerous cyclists.
    In 2016 18,477 cyclists were injured in road accidents, including 3,499 who were killed or seriously injured. This is an unacceptable number.
    Very few pedestrian fatalities involve cyclists. Of the 448 pedestrians killed by a vehicle in 2016, three were caused by bicycles, compared to 289 by cars. These levels have been broadly consistent over the past five years.

    It’s cars that kill people and that’s just from collisions – many more die from pollution.
    That said, cyclists need to be respectful in shared spaces. Most of them are anyway, it’s only a few that ignore the bylaws. I’m not sure having lanes helps as it can encourage people to cycle faster. Also pedestrians don’t always see the lanes and walk in them.

    I’d like to see more permanent lanes away from pedestrians and other road users. In the past the county council has not implemented schemes that were given the go ahead and the funding e.g. cycle route through Alexandra Park.

    Comment by Sarah M — Monday, Jun 22, 2020 @ 18:01

  2. Colin Foy

    We all like the idea of more cycling lanes as there are too many riding the pavement. A priority is marking out the cycling lanes along the promenade, especially from the Skateboard Park towards Hastings old town. There are no markings and most cyclists do not have a bell. People can not keep dodging out of the way of speeding cyclists. Being run over by a bicycle can have serious consequences, so how much will it cost for clear markings?
    Colin and Lynda Foy

    Comment by Colin Foy — Thursday, Jun 4, 2020 @ 05:34

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