Hundreds of local people have contacted me over the last few weeks expressing their views on the issue of cycling on the seafront. Strong opinions on all sides of the debate have been expressed.
I feel we are missing a trick. We as a town should be taking the opportunity to build a comprehensive cycling and walking strategy, integrated with a thorough transport plan that is visionary and inclusive for all Eastbourne residents. The key to successful planning of such schemes is understanding what works for each user of our communal space.
I am not satisfied that a thorough transport plan, including all safe-cycling and walking issues in the town, has been presented. So that’s why I am now calling for the byelaw that bans cycling on the seafront – currently the subject of a consultation as to whether it should be lifted – to stay in place at this time to allow for this strategy to be developed, which would include innovative and inclusive solutions to all the transport, cycling and walking issues in the town.
A study should be commissioned by Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council which would report within a designated time-frame. It should fully roll out a comprehensive, integrated strategy which would serve the town well over future generations, not just ticking a few boxes in the short term. This approach would be a far reaching, inclusive and a longer term vision for our town – rather than the piecemeal approach we see today.
In taking this proposal forward, we can ensure that lessons are learned from best practice across the UK and in Europe, and are applied to our plan and vision for the residents of our town.
So, to sum up; I am not satisfied with the current, piecemeal transport plans that have been presented, and are calling for the existing byelaw to stay in place to allow for an integrated, inclusive transport strategy to be developed; this strategy would include innovative and comprehensive solutions to all of the transport, cycling and walking issues in the town. The strategy should be jointly funded by EBC and ESCC, and take into account best practice from across the UK and Europe.
UPDATE; (24th August 2015)
There has been some comment that the above approach is simply a delaying tactic. This is not the case at all. There is no doubt that this subject has proved to be very controversial, with strong opinions on both sides of the debate. However, far from delaying tactics this is a genuine attempt to develop a joined up scheme that works for everyone in Eastbourne in the long term – something that frankly could/should have been done before. I appreciate that this may seem frustrating for some who are in favour of the lifting of the byelaw, but if we can end up with a longer term, much better thought through strategic plan, then the whole town will benefit, and this will be a much more appropriate approach than the piecemeal plan we are currently seeing.