The cycle debate rages on ... but what’s the answer?

A bike in the city centre
A bike in the city centre

A MENACE, or environmentally responsible? It seems there will always be a divide over cyclists.

We asked residents whether cyclists riding on pavements was understandable or a peril, and responses were divided to say the least.

But one thing was clear: more needs to be done to make the roads safer for everyone.

Chichester resident Lance Edynbry contacted the Observer to raise his fears over cyclists on the city’s streets.

“Cyclists riding everywhere have taken over in both Bordeaux and Bruges and pedestrians go in fear of their lives. Is the same thing going to happen in Chichester?” he said. “Unless there is a designated cycle lane, I always thought cycling on pavements was unlawful. “On Summersdale Road, where a number of elderly residents live, you often find cyclists going fast on the pavement and recently a blind woman told me she was traumatised by cyclists brushing past her.

“If one remonstrates with individuals, one is frequently subjected to verbal abuse.

“I accept some roads are dangerous to cycle along but why should pedestrians’ lives be put in jeopardy?”

George Haig, 77, from Emsworth, agreed saying: “I don’t think cyclists should be allowed to ride their bikes around the pedestrian areas of Chichester, and the same goes for skateboards. The cycle paths are there for a reason. It would be fine if the cyclists stuck to the cycle paths but half of them don’t. Pedestrians are at a risk just walking around the town.”

Tim Matthews, 49, of Chichester, said: “Even though the roads are dangerous, there is no excuse for the dangerous cycling I see all the time while I am working here in town. I’ve seen so many near misses and potential accidents that could injure both the pedestrian and the cyclist. People need to be sure of the rules concerning this issue.”

Both Camilla Duggan and James Pirie agreed cyclists shouldn’t be on the pavement, but said more needed to be done to improve road safety as well.

“As long as we have cycle paths there is no reason for cyclists to use the pedestrian areas,” said Ms Duggan, 23, of Chichester.

“They are putting so many people at risk by cycling through the town centre. On the other hand the roads aren’t safe for the cyclists either.

“If there was a way to make the roads safer then hopefully this wouldn’t be a problem any more.”

Mr Pirie, 20, from Chichester, said: “When the weather is nice and the town centre is full of people it seems impossible that a cyclist would be able to avoid the pedestrians. However, the roads aren’t very good for cyclists and would need to be improved before this problem is resolved.”

But Sarah Vincent, 20, of Emsworth thought cycling was a good thing: “Whenever I come into town I don’t see that many people cycling and the few that I have seem to be sensible.

“I suppose the pedestrians also need to be aware of what is going on around them and respectful that the cyclists need to get to places too.

“In some ways the cyclists are doing the city a favour. The less people driving on the roads, the less congested they are which is a problem a lot of the time.”

So everyone has their own opinion, but is there an answer?

When asked for a comment on the issue, a West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We are looking to improve the cycle routes in and around Chichester as part of our Local Sustainable Fund – a three-year programme worth £2.46m launched last year to develop public travel in the city. We are currently asking for feedback from residents as well as local cycle groups to see where we can improve routes in the city centre.”

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