Latest proposals for ‘two-way cycle track’ between Emsworth and Chichester divide opinion
A campaign group has claimed that new plans for walking and cycling provision on the A259 between Emsworth and Chichester will save lives.
This comes despite some scepticism from residents after proposals were revealed to narrow a road in Emsworth, to make way for a ‘shared use pavement’, and to relocate a Southbourne bus stop, to allow a narrow pavement to be used as a two-way cycle-track.
The scheme, developed by Highways England in collaboration with West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council in June last year, would see a seven-mile long off-road route link Chichester and Emsworth.
Following virtual workshops earlier this month, residents were told by Highways England that the proposed improvement scheme ‘will provide safe route for both pedestrians and cyclists’.
Jeremy Board, founder of the Gina’s Cycle Path Group, said: “We predict that the new cycle path proposal from Highways England will prevent 147 injuries, ranging from slight to serious, in the next ten years.
“These are not just numbers, these are real people, our neighbours, friends, family, our loved ones who will be spared from injury, who will be protected for generations to come. We would ask everyone to please say yes to safety.”
However, the proposals have not won over everyone.
Andrew Gould, secretary of Chichester and District Cycle Forum, said representatives were ‘shocked to find’ that the plans, drawn up locally, for segregated continuous cycle lanes on both sides of the road, running all the way from the A27 underpass in Fishbourne to the roundabout in Emsworth, were rejected.
He said: “Instead, the latest Highways England proposals mean that the vast majority of it would be a shared cycle/pedestrian path.
“This is despite the fact that a shared cycle/pedestrian path in an urban environment is against all the latest government guidelines. They are unpopular with pedestrians and cyclists alike, and are often extremely dangerous where there are hidden exits from driveways.”
Mark Record, from Chi Cycle, said the scheme would be a ‘huge waste of money’.
He added: “Of particular concern is the inconvenience that two way cycle traffic will inflict on people who are elderly, with sensory impairment, mobility disability, and families with children.”
Have you read?: Villagers’ anger at proposals to make path ‘two-way cycle track’
Regular commuter Bryan Hodges agreed. He said: “We will end up with an expensive waste of time that will make things more dangerous and won’t even be used by most people.
“There is no way that I, or 90 per cent of the other cyclists I see on a daily basis will; stop and give way at all side roads; cycle on the pavement; cross the A259 twice; cycle against the flow of oncoming traffic.”
City and district councillor Sarah Sharp said ‘it isn’t good enough’ to put in changes that ‘leave people cycling on the road or pedestrians worried about their safety’.
She added: “Getting sustainable infrastructure in place to enable more people to walk and cycle in safety is absolutely essential.
“We need to embrace the latest rules set out by the Government to deliver high quality infrastructure - and prioritize getting safe, segregated cycle routes.”
A Highways England spokesperson said ‘we care about everyone who uses our road network’, adding: “Improved cycling and walking opportunities have obvious benefits for health, safety and the wider environment.
“Space is limited here, and we’ve worked with local authority partners on a design that provides the most benefits within the space available, taking into account the existing characteristics of the road layout and the village/rural setting.”
Mr Board said the new proposals have ‘not been designed to make life more difficult’.
He added: “We know and respect that drivers cycle and cyclists drive. We know local drivers care deeply about safety, we believe we will all enjoy cycling the new safe cycle path together.”