Was there ever a more controversial subject! Well the government instructed West Sussex County Council (WSCC) as the Highways authority to implement ‘Emergency Active Travel’ cycleways and allocated 781k to pay for them. This is known as Tranche 1 funding. This money was only to be used for this purpose and required WSCC to design and construct the routes very quickly in order to help deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on transport and particularly on the need to encourage people out of their cars in order to avoid congestion.
Crawley Borough Council (CBC) were consulted about the designs, having tried to get involved in them. CBC sent back formal comments, concerns and suggestions (including comments from our Transport Consultant) to WSCC but none of our comments were accepted. CBC officers and Councillors have also reviewed the implementation and sent detailed comments and suggestions for improvements to WSCC. The estimated cost of Crawley’s Tranche 1 schemes is 166k Here’s a link to the costs information: EATF1 Costs
I was pleased to welcome Geoff Farrell, the Chair of West Sussex Cycle Forum, to Crawley to review the implementation of these routes – pictured above. We rode around the whole of both routes – from Balcombe Road, past Worth Park Avenue and Three Bridges station to the Squareabout and Town centre – and from Three Bridges Station to Manor Royal via Hazelwick Avenue. It is clear that many elements of the routes are not satisfactory for cyclists to use safely and it is, therefore, unlikely that large numbers of people will start using these routes until they are fixed. Although we have all seen the large increase in the number of people, including families with children, out on their bikes over the Lockdown period it is going to be difficult to convert this into people travelling regularly to work by bike, instead of by car, if the routes aren’t fixed. This situation is very disappointing and we will work with WSCC Highways to help with improvements if we can.
It is also clear that although car drivers seem to have worked out what the changes mean for them and the traffic now moves fairly smoothly – I have driven along both routes in my car many times – the implementation has not been done well in terms of signage and communication with the general public.
In Crawley we have passed a Climate Change emergency motion indicating our desire to reduce air pollution and congestion by encouraging people to use more sustainable forms of transport including walking, cycling and bus. We have published a longer term Transport strategy ‘New Directions for Crawley’ to set out ideas as to how we could achieve this. And we have published a ‘Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), as required by government – public consultation has just finished on this. LCWIP available here These outline longer-term and properly thought through routes and designs ready to be implemented when funds, and the will, is available.
We have to wait to see if WSCC will improve the Pop-up Covid-19 cycle ‘routes’ and if they will make them permanent. And we at CBC are ready to work with WSCC to help to make sure that changes to the road network work properly for everyone including people on foot, on their bikes, on a bus and, yes, in their cars!
Cllr Peter Smith
Ifield and Ifield West
Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development