Campaigners call for council action to make West Sussex safer for cyclists

The following article has been published in the West Sussex County Times.

Campaigners call for council action to make West Sussex safer for cyclists

Pop up cycle lanes, revised on street parking, cycling contraflows and closing certain streets to motorised vehicles.

These are just some of the suggestions proposed by campaigners on how to make West Sussex safer for cyclists.

The West Sussex Cycle Forum, which comprises members of individual cycle forums around West Sussex, said there had been a ‘surge in cycling’ since the COVID 19 lockdown began.

It said there was an ‘immediate and urgent need’ to keep people safe as they ride a bike, but still be socially distanced – and is calling on the council to take action.

A spokesman said:

“The current emergency has provided few benefits, but one of them is the increase in people now cycling on our roads and cycle paths.

“Clearly, with fewer cars on the roads this has reduced the perceived fear, and the actual risk, of conflict between people on bikes and people in vehicles.

“Bike shops report record levels of repairs being done on bikes rescued from sheds and garages.”

Cycling can help relieve the pressure on public transport and therefore make social distancing easier, campaigners said.

However as the lockdown is gently lifted, and public transport is shunned, once again bike riding will be in conflict with vehicles, they said.

The group wants local authorities to respond with ‘quick action’, such as pop up cycle lanes, revised on street parking, cycling contraflows, closing certain streets to motorised vehicles.

It comes as the Government announced a £2 billion package to create a ‘new era for cycling and walking’ last week.

Chairman Geoff Farrell said:

“The West Sussex Cycle Forum believes that there is now an unprecedented opportunity to capitalise on the surge in cycling – and we press local authorities in West Sussex to use their new and existing powers to increase road space for cycling and to respond positively to all the surveys that show that people want to cycle more.

“Our councils must acknowledge that their policies – to reach cycling targets and carbon emissions targets by specific dates – are doomed to failure without radical intervention.

“Cycling UK, Sustrans and British Cycling are being proactive in this and the West Sussex Cycle Forum totally supports their actions.

“It is within our collective power to address the underlying health issues that are already a cause of premature deaths, and are now contributing to COVID 19 mortality rates.

“Turning the response to COVID 19 into long-term action to reduce the need to travel by car, to promote active travel, and at the same time improve air quality, will help to take the pressure off the NHS for everyone.”

The West Sussex Cycle Forum is calling on West Sussex County Council to urgently review its policies and respond positively ‘to satisfy the public’s desire to ride their bikes, to realise the enormous benefits of a healthier populace, to slow down the harmful effects of global warming’.

Mr Farrell said: “Let’s not go back to a time when people were afraid to ride their bikes.”

West Sussex County Council has been approached for a comment.

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