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Some were successful others were not, with the cost of taking down the South’s unsuccessful pop-up cycle lanes has been revealed.
Figures obtained by ITV News Meridian show hundreds of thousands of pounds has been spent installing and removing schemes across the South.
The cycle lanes were given the green light by central Government who provided funding to local councils to make walking and cycling safer through the pandemic.
There had been concern that social distancing would not be possible on public transport, so the cycle lanes were seen as a solution to an anticipated rise in people getting on their bike.
In reality a handful of schemes caused congestion, and in places restricted the emergency services, which meant they lasted just weeks before the road was reverted back to its previous formation.
However, in towns such as Shoreham, there’s a real sense of disappointment over West Sussex County Council’s blanket decision to remove every scheme.
Campaigners believe the cycle lane installed is working.
Counting the cost
Brighton and Hove City Council:
Southampton City Council:
Portsmouth City Council:
Kent County Council:
West Sussex County Council:
By far the biggest spend will be in West Sussex County Council where all of its pop-up lanes are being taken down. Work to remove the schemes in Crawley, Horsham, East Grinstead, Shoreham, Worthing, Chichester isn't finished yet.
Duncan Simpson from Taxpayers’ Alliance described our findings as ‘concerning’,
"It’s particularly concerning where you see numerous councils across the South East changing their minds and choosing to remove these cycle lanes. It begs the questions why were they implemented in the first place, was it purely on the basis the money had to be spent or was it just a pet project?"
Calls for a rethink
In Shoreham in West Sussex campaigners are frustrated with the decision that their cycle lane will be removed.
Cycling levels have increased in the area and Clive Andrews from group, Shoreham-By-Cycle, thinks it will be a huge loss.
"The idea of one blanket decision that doesn’t do credit to the huge success of what’s happened here in Shoreham is a real shame.
"It’s a design that works, it doesn’t take up too much road space, it doesn’t slow down driving time, it enables people using bikes to have safety and confidence and it doesn’t slow you down if you’re using a car."
Labour councillor for Adur District council Catherine Arnold believes the £60,000 used to produce the scheme was money well spent.
"I think it’s a reasonable amount of money for getting people out of their cars and ensuring safe cycling for all demographics, particularly children. As a councillor I see the huge spend on transport on the roads and that will go into millions. West Sussex have called a climate emergency but they must bring in methods to ensure they meet those requirements."
Cycle lanes 'fulfilled' their original objective
Local authorities have defended the schemes saying they've learned lessons from the cycle lanes which have been removed.
West Sussex County Council said,
"The Government-funded schemes were part of an emergency response in the COVID-19 crisis and were designed to be temporary.
"They fulfilled their main objectives of offering people dedicated space to cycle, rather than using public transport, or to leave the car at home and use their bike instead. Some of the temporary cycleways had components that may well have a place in permanent schemes in the future, subject to funding being available, detailed designs being developed and consultation with all stakeholders.
"We have also learned a great deal from public feedback, and data gathered about the cycleways’ usage, which will be invaluable for the future.
"We recognise the support and enthusiasm shown by some people for the Shoreham scheme, which is why we are looking to see if a redesigned, permanent proposal can be progressed. This is subject to there being sufficient funding from the Department for Transport and would require full consultation with the public and all other stakeholders."
Southampton Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, says:
"From the outset, we have stressed that all of our pop-up schemes are trials and that we will continuously monitor the changes and feedback received. The temporary pop-up cycle lanes on Bassett Avenue were a positive trial that served their purpose well, helping to keep people safe and paving the way for longer-term behaviour change in how people travel in and around Southampton. This trial has given us a wealth of valuable learnings to take forward as we continue to develop our plans for cycle infrastructure across the city."
Portsmouth City Council said:
"The Elm Grove and Kings Road three week-trial cycle lane was developed as part of the Transport Recovery Plan. This was launched following direction from central Government, calling on local councils to reallocate more of the existing space on roads to walking and cycling to enable social distancing and encourage active travel. These measure supported public health advice to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The council was awarded £214,515 from the government’s Covid-19 Emergency Active Travel Fund. Funding was awarded to councils across the country to carry out projects of this type."
Brighton and Hove City Council said:
"We recognised the serious concerns raised by public transport users and providers that congestion in a small section of the additional temporary A259 cycle lane had caused unavoidable delays to public transport in the city. We therefore agreed to suspend this short stretch of the lane.
"The aim of the measures introduced is to offer additional sustainable transport capacity and choice. The Government requested that councils across the country make changes to walking and cycling on a swift timescale.
"We will continue to look closely at the data, listen to what people are saying and make changes where necessary, particularly around disability access".
The Department for Transport said:"It has been great to see so many people build cycling and walking into their daily travel habits. To support them, we know it’s vital to have the right infrastructure in place so everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – can use our roads.
"A number of cycling and walking schemes have been revised in response to feedback from the public, and we have set out clear measures for councils to consult local communities before implementing cycling and walking infrastructure. The majority of schemes are now working well."