Horsham to get “pop-up” cycle lanes on Albion Way

Last month the Government called on councils to make “swift and significant” changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. West Sussex County Council has responded with seven schemes across the county, including a proposal to cone off one lane of Albion Way in each direction from Sainsbury’s to the Bishopric.

In announcing the emergency funding, Transport Minister Grants Shapps said: “We have a window of opportunity to act now to embed walking and cycling as part of new long-term habits and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.”

In the first tranche of funding, West Sussex has been allocated £784,000. The Government have made it clear that measures must be delivered quickly, otherwise this will adversely affect the ability to secure any future funding.

Pop-up cycle lane on Kingston Bridge (pic: @johnstreetdales)

Although initially only for a short length of road, the Cycle Forum supports this plan since it will enable local people to walk and cycle safely whilst maintaining social distancing – particularly along the busy stretch of road between the Bishopric and Waitrose. This will be good news for key workers getting to work, for children on their way to school (once they’re back!), as well as for people going to the shops.

However, for the new lanes to be a success it is vital that there are safe and easy access points, such as to the existing cycle track by Prewitts Mill near the Sainsbury’s roundabout. The cycle lanes could be extended at a later date to the junction with North Parade and beyond to East Street so as to create a “backbone” safe cycle route across the town.

Pop-up cycle lane in Leeds (pic: @LeedsCC_News)

We know that Horsham residents want to continue to experience the benefits of safer streets, cleaner air and quieter neighbourhoods that they experienced during the early stages of the lockdown. In our recent survey of cycling during the pandemic an overwhelming number of respondents wanted more protected cycle lanes to enable them to keep cycling when the traffic returns.

When first installed the lanes are likely to be temporary but the Goverenment has advised councils to monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they install “with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery”.

Pop-up cycle lane in Leicester (pic: @WeAreCyclingUK)

Ruth Fletcher, Councillor for Denne ward, welcomes the prospect of Horsham getting a pop-up lane in Albion Way and says:

“Councils across the country have responded quickly to the Covid crisis by creating wider pavements, pop-up cycle lanes, school streets and low traffic neighbourhoods. Horsham Lib Dems have been calling for urgent action here as well.

Although ours is only a small scheme, it is important because the government has said it will make much bigger sums available to those councils which deliver successful first projects.”

The local Green Party have called this “a good start” that needs to be extended to bring further benefits:

“We believe that an opportunity is being lost if the scheme does not link up to other cycle and walking routes near the proposed scheme.”

XR Horsham “love the idea” of the pop-up cycle lanes on Albion Way:

“They will improve the local environment, be healthier for the users, and be better for the planet. We would support any future extension towards East Street. Ideas like these pop-up cycle lanes, are the ideas that our future needs.”

Sussex Green Living say we “urgently need more pop-up cycle lanes” while people are in the habit of cycling and enjoying it:

“We are delighted to hear a pop-up cycling lane is being installed in Albion Way in Horsham. Covid has devastated so many people, families and businesses, we must try and find something positive to come out of the current health and economic crisis and what better way than to address the climate crisis with sustainable and safe transport!”

Pop-up cycle lanes are just one of several measures recommended in the new Government guidance, such as widened pavements, “school streets” (where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times) and low-traffic or traffic free neighbourhoods.

West Sussex has been allocated £3.9m in total to provide emergency measures for walking and cycling, but to access this money local authorities must demonstrate “meaningful plans to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians”.

Where in Horsham District would you like to see safer streets for people?

Low-traffic neighbourhood in Waltham Forest (pic: barnetlcc.org)

Comments

  1. James Whitston says

    Lockdown provided a perfect opportunity to hit the reset switch on our transport priorities, for people to try cycling as a serious and viable form of transport, and for local government to get behind this by switching their priorities from motorists to cyclists and pedestrians, and providing comprehensive infrastructure to back this. I’m not sure that a temporary 0.4km cycle lane along Horsham’s Albion Way represents a proper test of the kind of uptake that might be seen were we to commit now to a fully integrated network of safe, segregated cycle lanes. Sadly I have a cynical suspicion that it’s just an exercise in providing data reflecting a poor uptake, which can then be used to deflect pressure for an expanded network. I get it: it’s a really tough ask for any council to say ‘sorry motorists, but you’re not going to have such an easy time of it from now on, because as a society we need to make room for these better alternatives’. However, if not now, then when? 0.4km isn’t going to cut it. We need to find the courage and leadership to think much, much bigger, commit to it now, and be prepared to ride the backlash out for long enough to effect a widespread change of mindset.

Speak Your Mind

*