Heard rumours about new cycle lanes for Upper Shoreham Road?
We’ve put together this overview of what’s happening and what you may need to know and consider. As things change and develop, we may make edits to this page, so do look back later.
(last edited 02/09/20)
What’s going on?
West Sussex County Council will soon be creating some temporary cycle lanes Upper Shoreham Road. This is part of the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund.
Work is scheduled to begin on Monday 7 September.
(Originally, there were plans to build temporary lanes along Old Shoreham Road, but this part of the project was cancelled.)
Why is this happening?
As we recover from Covid, our transport habits are changing. During lockdown, huge numbers of local people got back on their bikes, and rediscovered how easy it can be to get around on two wheels.
Now, with public transport still being considered risky for some, there is a proven appetite for people to continue using bikes. But without good quality road design to separate bikes and cars, many people don’t feel safe enough to ride, so may feel they have no option but to get back in their cars. With temporary cycle lanes, we have more options.
In particular, a return to school in September is looming. Will we have car-based school-run chaos, with congestion and pollution worse than before? Or can we help parents and children feel safe enough to ride (or walk) to school in greater numbers? If so, we’ll need more safe routes for them.
What are the details of the temporary cycle lane designs?
The designs have been published by West Sussex County Council. Most of the route will be made up of a 1.5m lane on each side of the road, separated from the main flow of traffic by plastic wands. In some sections, these wands are absent.
(You may have heard other rumours. Not all will be accurate. Did you know, for example, that there’s never been a plan to route a cycle lane around the Holmbush roundabout as part of this project?)
Will the temporary cycle lane designs be high quality?
The government has a new standard for the design of cycle infrastructure, and virtually no aspect of the scheme’s design is up to these standards.
Parts, however, are not bad. Most of the route sees cycle lanes separated from traffic by plastic wands – so much safer and more effective than just a line of white paint.
There are some worrying parts of the design. For example…
- At certain stretches of the route, the plastic wands will give way to ‘advisory’ sections. These sections can be essential for junctions and bus stops, but our fear is that some advisory sections, added late in the design phase, will attract dangerous parking, blocking the route for people on bikes.
- In other parts of the route, painted cycle lanes are routed beside lines of parked cars. This brings a risk of drivers opening doors into the path of people cycling past.
We’ve stressed to councillors that badly designed cycle lanes can be dangerous – and we’ve encouraged them to follow the latest in government best practice. If the Department for Transport judges the designs to be poorly implemented, they may take their money back.
Why use a major road for these cycle lanes, not side streets?
Good question. Some of us may feel uneasy at the idea of routing cycle lanes along significant roads. But best practice – and the latest government guidance – points out that people on bikes need an easy, direct route to get to where they’re going, rather than being forced to wiggle through side streets full of parked cars and junctions.
Why do cyclists get special treatment?
It can be tempting to think of cyclists and drivers as an ‘us and them’ situation, can’t it? But we really don’t think this is the way it is. People who ride bikes aren’t a distinct group. They’re just regular people – including children -making short journeys on two wheels. Something we learned during lockdown is that cycling is an option for so many different types of people. Let’s make it easier for them – and for you, if you’d like.
Will I have to change how I drive, or where I park?
In some cases, yes, road layouts will change and parking spaces will change.
Parking will be suspended along most of Upper Shoreham Road.
Parking bays will stay by Buckingham Park, by the shopping parade, and near Southlands Hospital.
At the western end of the road, this probably won’t be very disruptive, as most houses have ample driveway space.
In areas near schools and nurseries, it may now be more difficult to make quick drop-offs by car. We suggested a design option for retaining more parking (a solution used elsewhere), but WSCC decided not to try it.
Around the Southlands area of Upper Shoreham Road, we know the reduction of parking on Upper Shoreham Road might be annoying for some. It might mean a slightly longer walk from home to your car or van. We know no-one wants added hassle.
But changes like this can be the key to freeing up space so that people can feel safer on their bikes. We think some changes are worth it, for the benefit of our friends, neighbours and children. Let’s see how this goes. It could be a change worth making – or it could be that between us, we work out how things can be improved for the better, and ask WSCC to make changes to the scheme.
I don’t ride a bike. Why would I want these temporary cycle lanes?
Even if you don’t think you’ll use the cycle lanes, there are plenty of reasons why they might be good news for you – even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.
- Your friends and neighbours will feel safer and more able to use bikes
- When more people decide to cycle, instead of driving, there’s an opportunity to reduce congestion, making essential driving easier.
- We can reduce air pollution as people increasingly choose bikes over cars for local journeys.
- Cycling on pavements causes annoyance, but often happens because people don’t feel safe on the road. Well-designed cycle infrastructure reduces people’s tendency to ride on pavements.
- If people cycle instead of taking the bus, then buses become safer spaces for people who need to use them.
Who’s paying for this?
Central government, via the Department for Transport, has shared funds around councils who are willing to try ambitious new ideas to help improve the way we get around post-Covid. If West Sussex County Council do a good job, more money becomes available to improve our streets.
This is all very well in the summer. But will people cycle in the winter?
Another fair question. Of course, more people use bikes in the summer than in the colder, wetter months. But the decline in numbers isn’t as great as you may think. For most people, it isn’t actually cycling in the winter that they dislike, but the idea of dealing with motor traffic in the winter months. When people feel safe, they’re more likely to ride year-round. Let’s give them that opportunity.
What about consultation for local residents?
This is an important question. And it has three answers:
- The routes of these new lanes are included within a long-term plan called the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, published by Adur and Worthing Councils. There was a consultation last year on this plan, that received a very large number of responses, and a good level of support.
- These lanes are temporary, to help people adapt to new transport habits. They won’t become permanent without some serious procedures coming into play.
- Paper-based consultations are important, but they are not perfect. Without seeing actual schemes in the flesh, it can be hard to form an opinion. So, as these lanes are being built on a trial basis, this is a kind of consultation in itself, to help us all try out a new idea. As a temporary scheme, it’s a chance to ‘Try before you buy’!
Haven’t similar lanes caused congestion in Brighton and Hove?
You have probably seen or heard about cycle lanes further along Old Shoreham Road in Hove. The cycle lanes on Upper Shoreham Road will NOT be of the same lane-width design as used in Hove or Worthing.
(By the way, did you know that since the trial scheme was constructed, cycling along Hove’s Old Shoreham Road has increased by 61%.)
Will anyone actually use the temporary cycle lanes?
If you’re driving, it can feel frustrating to see a cycle lane that looks like no-one is using it. We understand that. But a couple of things to bear in mind:
- Cycle lanes move people very efficiently. A lane that doesn’t look busy might be moving more people than it seems.
- People’s habits don’t change overnight. Many of us feel so wary about the current state of our roads that it’ll take us a while to get used to the new ability to ride in more safety. Some things need a little time.
- Schools have not yet returned from summer holidays. These cycle lanes will provide ways for children to get to school.
Won’t plastic bollards be ugly?
Let’s face it, the kind of orange plastic bollards used for these schemes aren’t beautiful! But that’s OK. This scheme is temporary. If a trial period leads to a decision to make them permanent facilities, we can hope for the construction of something a little easier on the eye!
I still don’t like this idea. Why should I have to put up with it?
We know that not everyone will be a fan of the temporary cycle lanes. Of course. But our suggestion? Let’s give it a try. The way we get around is definitely changing. Let’s allow new ideas to be tested. They might just work!
And if you do find yourself feeding back to councillors that you’re not a fan, our request is to be specific about the parts you don’t like – and to consider how else we can solve the problem of improving conditions for cycling and walking. What would you do?
We will keep listening
We know there’s lots of uncertainty about the new temporary cycle lanes. So we promise we’ll keep listening to people’s thoughts, and we’ll keep asking questions of the councillors and officers who have been tasked by central government to come up with ideas to help us get around more sustainably.