A long wait for serious change on Upper Shoreham Road

“There is no funding in the tranche 2 allocation for building a scheme in Shoreham.”

Cllr Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure

Will a permanent cycleway replace Upper Shoreham Road’s pop-up scheme? The West Sussex highways boss confirms: Shoreham can expect to wait a long time…

Anyone who has written to West Sussex County Council about the planned removal of Upper Shoreham Road’s successful pop-up cycle lane will be familiar with the council’s supposed assurance that, following the removal of our current cycle lane, plans will be set in motion regarding a higher quality, permanent, replacement.

This sounds positive, doesn’t it? But we became wary of this concept’s dependence on future funding, and distinct vagueness around timescales.

So we addressed some questions to Cllr Roger Elkins, WSCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure:

  1. What is the likelihood that efforts to secure funding and design for a permanent Upper Shoreham Road cycle scheme will be successful?
  2. Given the necessary process of design and consultation, what is the very soonest that a permanent scheme can be expected to be built on Upper Shoreham Road?
  3. Similarly, bearing in mind the process that must be gone through, what is the longest time this whole process and construction may take?
  4. In your view, what is the most likely period of time for which Upper Shoreham Road will be without any protection for people using bikes – between the imminent removal of pop-up safety measures and the completion of a possible new scheme?

In his reply to us, after mentioning that DfT Active Travel Fund Phase 2 funding will be used in early 2021 for the purpose of “engaging with stakeholders”, Cllr Elkins goes on to clarify that the future of cycling facilities on Upper Shoreham Road is dependent on the possibility of future – not yet announced – funding, and timescales simply can’t be determined:

“There is no funding in the tranche 2 allocation for building a scheme in Shoreham. Any scheme that is developed would need to be funded from further tranches of the Active Travel Fund which is subject to government budgetary processes and timescales. The success of a bid to the ATF will be dependent on the case we are able to make for the scheme. This will be informed by the engagement work mentioned above and the costs / benefits of whatever scheme proposal is agreed. Until there is clarity on these things it is not possible to determine the programme for delivery of a scheme.”

Realistically, this means a long wait between the removal of Upper Shoreham Road’s existing scheme (which has more than doubled cycling numbers) and the arrival of its replacement.

Our understanding is the wait looks certain to exceed a year. 18 months may be an optimistic estimate, and a longer timespan may be likely – all this, of course, dependent on a successful funding bid.

A perfectly reasonable compromise position exists – and was proposed by Cllr Kevin Boram, county councillor for south Shoreham. Cllr Boram suggested that the existing pop-up cycle lanes be allowed to stay for a few months longer, so that while engagement and consultation for a permanent scheme begins, the measurable benefits of the existing project are not lost – particularly for children, parents and people new to using bikes for their short journeys.

Sadly, while a WSCC scrutiny committee voted 6-2 that there was merit in Cllr Boram’s request to think again, Cllr Elkins declined this opportunity to retain facilities for safer cycling on Upper Shoreham Road in 2021.

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