An explanation

Explain this one if you can.

Network Rail wishes to replace the Fishbourne level crossing with a bridge.

In their early consultations they found the ‘main consideration’ they were asked to make was ‘to accommodate cyclists by ensuring there wasn’t a need to dismount’.

This of course ties in with modern guidance to encourage sustainable travel, including the stipulation that new infrastructure should make sure there aren’t any ‘pinchpoints or any other features that force cyclists to dismount’.

So, on this important part of National Cycle Route 2, how did we get from there to: a pinchpoint of a central span which, at 2m-wide, is well below the recommended minimum; a routing arrangement which forces cyclists into the path of pedestrians; hairpin bends which are so far below the recommended minimum turning circle that current users of tandems and child trailers will be either forced or at least ‘strongly encouraged’ to divert on to the fast-moving Cathedral Way (or just use the car instead)?

The explanation?

Well, in a Life on Mars moment taking me back to the attitudes of the 1970s, we have a rather complacent planning department which is apparently unembarrassed to state: ‘Alternative routes do exist … these I would suggest are clearly less safe, but that is their own individual choice.’

And we have an equally blasé Network Rail which states ‘the point about the DfT guidelines is that it’s guidance only’.

This is not just a cycling matter, of course.

Any cyclist experiencing problems getting past pedestrians is also a cyclist imposing problems on pedestrians.

And it’s not cyclists who are going to be most inconvenienced by the fact that the bridge imposes a detour of more than a lap round an Olympic stadium for practically no progress in the direction you actually want to go.

I wouldn’t relish doing that in a wheelchair or with a child in a pushchair.

Surely in today’s world we can avoid repeating past mistakes and design a bridge without these (and other) major shortcomings which will affect Chichester’s more sustainable transport users day in and day out, in perpetuity.

Bill Sharp

Whyke Lane