LETTER: Cycling improvements don’t mean routes aren’t dangerous

I HAVE just seen the West Sussex County Council webpage advertising the new cycling improvements for Northgate gyratory system in Chichester and would like to make the following personal observations and comments;

WSCC have made a valiant and honorable attempt to improve safety for cyclists at this dangerous junction but in reality have failed to make a ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and at a very high cost (£210,000).

Apart from the idea of the interactive warning signs there has been little change from the previous layout apart from a change in the colour of the cycle lanes.

Most drivers have not got the time to look at warning signs relating to cyclists on the cycle lanes when they are rightly concentrating on observing the road ahead and the potential hazards from other fast-moving traffic around them, with many drivers changing lanes at the last minute without indicating.

It is easier to spot a cyclist than the signs.

In the WSCC webpage advertising this scheme it is quoted by Louise Goldsmith (WSCC Leader) and John O’Brien (WSCC cabinet member for highways and transport) that this scheme is intended to improve safety for cyclists and encourage more cycling.

But, it is interesting to note in their attached publicity photograph there are no cars on the gyratory system. I wonder what time of day they cycled?

Even if this is a significant safety improvement for cyclists, who is going to use it? I suggest only the most experienced and confident.

What new cyclist will it encourage when every one of the approach roads is extremely dangerous for most cyclists?

May I suggest Louise and John try to cycle along St Paul’s Road or Orchard Street to get to/from Northgate between 8am-9am or 4.30pm-5.30 pm.

WSCC is currently assessing three options for major junction improvements to the Northgate gyratory system and its approach junctions. Two of these are quite radical and costly.

However, it may be some considerable time before sufficient moneys are acquired to pay for any one of these major Northgate improvement options. If this is the case, then there will be increasing traffic volumes and dangers for all highway users while the new major developments are being built.

But, if the money is found and one of these schemes is built within the next couple of years, then this makes this recently-constructed cycle improvement scheme a waste of valuable public money.

Finally, may I say that as a former employee in WSCC highways, I am well aware of the practical and financial difficulties in improving dangerous highways such as at Northgate.

So, my comments are not intended as a criticism of WSCC, just a request for some clarity and explanation for local people who may have the same questions and concerns as me.

And, there is the potential that some inexperienced cyclists may now be led into a sense of false security and use what still remains a dangerous area of highway for cyclists.

Paul Wreyford