This important street needs improvement, but should not be seen as a simple diversion to placate critics of an Upper Shoreham Road cycle route.
In the current WSCC consultation on cycling and walking, Upper Shoreham Road occupies the bulk of the conversation – with good reason, seeing as it’s been identified several times as primary route in a future cycle network.
But Upper Shoreham Road is not the only street that’s mentioned in WSCC’s engagement. Eastern Avenue and Middle Road, considered until now as secondary routes, both get mentions.
Should Eastern Avenue and Middle Road be made better for walking and cycling?
Absolutely. We’ve said for years that Middle Road, as it stands, functions poorly. At school times in particular, it becomes congested and dangerous. Thousands of children use Middle Road to reach Shoreham Academy, and there’s an uneasy, sometimes dangerous, tension between people travelling by car, foot and bike. We’ve worked hard with Councillor Debs Stainforth, trying to persuade WSCC to make simple improvements, but we’ve been unsuccessful.
Should Middle Road be considered an alternative route to the full length of Upper Shoreham Road?
No. Middle Road deserves change, but so does Upper Shoreham Road – for different reasons. Upper Shoreham Road connects together shops, medical facilities, parks and thousands of homes. Every strategic study into transport in Shoreham identifies the full length of Upper Shoreham Road as a key part of a future cycle network. It wouldn’t be right to dodge this necessary task by simply trying to push it south.
Is there space for a cycleway on Middle Road and Eastern Avenue?
Very good question. But this is where it gets tricky. Middle Road is a very different kind of road to Upper Shoreham Road. Fully separated facilities for cycling, along with good space for walking, would mean a reduction in driving space – or maybe even a stop to using Middle Road as a through driving route (for part of the day, at least). Measures like this might be needed, but they may be difficult, they may be unpopular, and they deserve careful consideration. New Department for Transport design and funding rules won’t allow for half-hearted bodges.
So, our advice:
Yes, let’s identify Middle Road (and the connecting Eastern Avenue) as spaces to improve in future. But let’s NOT let them distract us from Upper Shoreham Road – which needs a high quality, safe cycle route from end to end.