A decision has been taken to remove the Government funded, temporary cycleway in Chichester.
Government funding for the temporary cycleways was announced in May this year. In West Sussex the national lockdown saw a dramatic reduction in vehicular traffic on the road (at one point a near 70% reduction and an up to 90% reduction in bus and train usage). The Government ambition was to provide more space for people to safely walk and cycle.
At the time the Government funding was awarded and work got underway on the cycle lane, the country was just emerging from national lockdown. Social distancing meant that more space was needed for walking and cycling to reduce pressure on public transport and to help people return to work and school. However, since that time, schools have returned and the Government continues to provide additional funding for local public transport and the popup cycle lanes are no longer needed for this purpose.
Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “It’s clear that while the cycleway did provide a safe route for cycling, the extraordinary circumstances during national lockdown that led to their introduction no longer exists. By removing the scheme we will return the network to its pre-pandemic state.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to provide us with feedback and reassure residents we remain committed to our long-standing, walking and cycling strategy with all the permanent benefits this will bring for active and sustainable travel. We have a continued ambition to support investment in sustainable and active travel and the data gathered and the experience of providing this cycleway will help us when delivering future schemes.”
A full review was conducted into the Chichester cycleway to inform the decision. This included taking into account all feedback received and data collected, including cyclist numbers. Feedback received showed the majority of responses were opposed to the cycleway. Automatic traffic counters installed on the cycleway also indicated relatively low usage by cyclists, considering it is a busy route for other road users.
The Cabinet Member decision is subject to the usual call-in period.
All the information and feedback for each of the other Government funded, trial pop-up cycleway schemes in West Sussex will be reviewed on a rolling basis in October and November.
Just as with the Chichester scheme, once the information has been analysed a decision will be made either to:
• keep the cycleway for a further period, and future review,
• to make alterations and review in future,
• or to remove the scheme.
Why the schemes were introduced:
• The pop-up cycleways for West Sussex aim to create safe space for active travel and encourage people to cycle rather than use the car. They are an emergency response to increase travel options as part of the Government-led recovery plan from COVID-19.
• The introduction of social distancing has reduced public transport capacity and people from different households are discouraged from car sharing.
• As an emergency response, the Government required the trial schemes to be planned and installed within three months. Given the timeframe, we consulted key partners including district and borough councils, emergency services and bus operators. Normally schemes of this nature would take years to develop and be subject to various stages of public consultation that might last two or more months and involve exhibitions, etc. This was not possible given the timescale limitations required.
• The cycleway routes are the result of collaborative work with the district and borough councils.