LETTER: Transport – rise to the challenge

After attending the launch of the SCATE (Sussex Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment) Report entitled ‘A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast’ at the Bassil Shippam Centre, Chichester last Friday 4th May, it was clear to me that we in Chichester now have an opportune moment to initiate a radical reform of our transport infrastructure.

With plans for the Southern Gateway, currently only being a missed opportunity, but being challenged by Gateway Plus and housing developments such as White House Farm providing extra funding via Section 106, alongside our knowledge of the devastating effects of polluted air in the city – 65 deaths per year – now is the time to do something radical.

At the SCATE launch we were presented with dynamic ideas for solutions to Chichester’s transport problems by Sarah Sharp, Green city councillor.

There are three key areas we need to address. 1. Improving cycling and pedestrian pathways throughout Chichester and the environs such that they link up and are safe and separated from traffic. Sarah showed us plans for a redirected Centurion Way that Friends of Centurion Way have obtained from its original designer, John Grimshaw, to link the pathway to the South Downs directly from the city centre via a tree-lined route separated from vehicular traffic.

2. Improving public transport – buses and trains – such that they are regular, reliable and affordable for all, with realtime signage for buses, which should have separate bus lanes, and be powered cleanly so that they do not continue to pollute our air.

3. Reduction in vehicular use via workplace parking levies which can help fund cleaner buses, as in Nottingham, car sharing schemes organised by large employers, such as County Hall, the hospital, university and the college, and outer city freight depots with small vehicle or cargo trike deliveries to supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s.

These are relatively simple solutions to the traffic congestion, that we experience daily on the A27 and other roads around Chichester such as the inner ring road at rush hour times. They do not require massive funding, but importantly they need co-ordination.

This is where you come in. The Chichester Observer, the Gateway Plus Team, together with councillors such as Lousie Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, and Bob Lanzer, responsible for transport, need to get together with Sarah Sharp and the creators of the SCATE Report to devise what is best for Chichester and its surroundings, not just for the next few years, but for the rest of this century, and that requires a futuristic vision, that takes into account the threats of climate change, pollution, increased housing and population in our city and beyond.

I very much hope you will all rise to this vitally important challenge.

I am a cyclist and resident of Orchard Street – one of the most polluted streets in our city way above the European safety levels.

Valerie Briginshaw, Orchard Street, Chichester