Spending LSTF money on cycle shelters will not boost cycling in Horsham

The West Sussex County Times reports a “boost for Horsham cyclists” with the news that £30,000 of LSTF money is being spent on cycle shelters.

The Horsham District Cycling Forum responds in full below.

Family cycling in Horsham town centre

Family cycling in Horsham town centre

We are disappointed to see such a large sum of Local Sustainable Transport Fund money (£30,000) being put to poor use.

Town-centre cycle parking needs to be convenient and easy to use and, most importantly, situated close to where people actually want to park their bikes.

By contrast, Horsham District Council, in combination with West Sussex County Council, have chosen to spend some of this money from the Department for Transport on needlessly expensive two-tier cycle stands, which are inconvenient for the short-term parking of the kind that is expected within town centres (where people want to pop in and out of shops).

Two-tier stands are only really appropriate for long-term parking – such as at railway stations – due to the difficulty of lifting bikes in and out of these stands.

This new cycle parking will also be located at the margins of the town centre, with the intention of discouraging cycling within it. Deliberately increasing the distance that people have to walk after parking their bikes will not make cycling more convenient.

In response, we note that:

• Most of the town centre is actually legally accessible by bike, including East Street, Market Square, the Causeway, Blackhorse Way, Carfax (although only in one direction) and Springfield Road. It therefore makes little sense to place cycle parking far away from the shops in the town centre – down on the Bishopric, or tucked away behind the Piries Place car park – and then expect people to walk long distances to the shops they actually want to visit.

• Where cycling is occurring in pedestrian zones (for instance on West Street) this is not because of a lack of covered parking outside the town centre, but is instead because of a lack of safe, attractive routes across (and into) the town, particularly from east to west, as well as from north to south. These are long-standing problems that a joined-up sustainable transport policy should be addressing in a coherent way. Providing covered cycle parking away from the town centre is not a solution.

• Rather than solely viewing cycling as a problem, the Council should engage with the evidence – from within Horsham itself – that cycling can work well as a transport mode in the town centre. An accessible town centre requires high quality cycle routes – safe, convenient and direct, suitable for anyone to use, no matter how young or old; routes that are almost entirely absent in Horsham.

We desperately need real help to encourage more people to cycle into the town. Cycling brings huge economic and social benefits: better health, reduced congestion and less pressure on car parking spaces. It means more people spending their money locally rather than driving to Crawley or shopping on the internet.

Cycling is quiet, safer for pedestrians, non-polluting, and helps make our town a more attractive place to live. It gives independence to young people, as well as to those who cannot drive because of lack of money or for health reasons. Providing isolated cycle parking without high quality cycle routes will not allow Horsham to reap these benefits.

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