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Four wheels bad, two wheels good in Lewes Road revamp
12:30pm Tuesday 20th March 2012 in Video News
One of the biggest transport shake-ups in Brighton and Hove is coming to a city road that is used by more 60,000 people every day.
The Lewes Road revamp will see a bus lane created on a dual carriageway used daily by tens of thousands.
Bosses believe cutting the car lanes from two to one in both directions of Lewes Road, Brighton, will see a 10% reduction in car trips as people turn to walking, cycling or taking the bus instead.
The plans, which could reduce air pollution, will also include creating a wider cycling lane as Brighton and Hove City Council looks to make it safer for those on two wheels.
- A new bus and cycle lane in both directions on the dual carriageway section of Lewes Road between the Vogue Gyratory and the A27 Falmer interchange. This will stretch 10km. It could involve either a combined lane or a separate bus and 2m wide cycle lane. Taxis can also use the bus lane.
- Changes to the Vogue Gyratory. This will see a continuous on-road two metre cycle lane northbound and separate bus lane. New traffic lights will be installed including the city’s first cycle-only priority light.
- Remove about 50 parking bays on the east side of Lewes Road between Natal Road and the bus garage. This will benefit cyclists and see pavements widened. Loading facilities and disabled parking would be retained where necessary.
- Improve the junctions at Saunders Park View and Coombe Road for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Widen the 300m shared cycle and pedestrian path next to Lewes Road north of Coldean Lane.
- Extra signs for cyclists along the route; l Extending the 30mph speed limit northwards to The Amex and the A27 Falmer interchange.
- New bus shelters and real time information signs in Moulsecoomb, Bevendean and Coldean.
The council believes the proposal will help more people travel to Brighton and Hove Albion’s games by bus as the club looks to expand the capacity of the American Express Community Stadium from 22,500 to 30,500.
But motorists have asked why buses must come first when greater numbers of people are behind the wheel.
Ian Davey, the council’s transport cabinet member, said: “We want to give people more choice in how they travel and make it easy for everyone, whether they’re walking, cycling, driving, or using public transport.
“Trying to accommodate limitless numbers of cars on this route is a road to nowhere. So it’s vital we make space for other modes of transport.
“This is a hazardous and unpleasant road for cyclists so these planned measures will encourage cycling and literally save people’s lives.
“Many people in this city are already choosing to use our great bus services and we hope that shorter journey times will encourage even more to do so.”
As well as the bus lane, there are plans to reduce speed limits, remove parking bays and improve junctions.
Changes will also be made to one of the city’s most hazardous spots for cyclists, the Vogue Gyratory system near the Lewes Road Sainsbury’s.
A consultation will take place asking people if they want a separate two-metre wide cycle lane or a joint five-metre bus and cycle lane.
It is hoped the measures will see a 30% improvement in bus journey times while increasing its passengers (currently 35,000) by 25% and reducing the number of car journeys (currently 25,000) by 10%.
The entire road will be monitored by CCTV and number-plate recognition technology which means motorists driving in the bus lane will receive a fine.
Motoring lobbyist Steve Percy, of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “Once again the poor old motorist is being taken for a sucker.
‘Not a fair deal’
“The motorist who pays more for road use than anyone is just being hit harder and harder. It’s not getting a fair deal from the Government or the council.
“They can only justify the bus lane until they get the rest of the bus infrastructure in place. There are many people with no alternative but to use cars as buses do not go to where they want to go.”
The proposals follow a six week council consultation last year, which showed a majority of the 550 responders wanted “more sustainable” choices on the road.
The local authority said the number of car journeys on the road had been decreasing since the opening of the by-pass in 1996 and was now below the level required for a dual carriageway.
If approved at a transport cabinet member meeting on Tuesday letters will be sent to 30,000 homes in the area and public exhibitions held in universities and community centres.
Work could start later this year and it is expected to be finished by 2013.
About £1 million will be spent on the road, including the bus and bike lanes, plus various other improvements.
It will come from £4.2 million of funding from the Government’s sustainable transport fund.
Another £2.25 million has been pledged by partners including Brighton and Hove Bus Company (£400,000), the universities of Sussex and Brighton, Southern Rail (£100,000) and Brighton and Hove Primary Care Trust (£90,000).
The rest of the money will be spent on travel planning programmes and working with schools and universities.
The local authority said it would have liked to introduce a separate cycle lane but this would have cost about £10 million on the full 10km route.
The plans have been backed by a number of organisations, including the Jo Walters Trust, which was founded after the death of the cyclist on the northern part of the road in 2010.
Lucy Johnston, Jo’s sister and the chairman of the trust, said: “The trust fully endorses the plan as a good solution to avoid any similar tragedies to the one that befell Jo, an issue of growing importance given the rising volume of cycling between the city and the schools, universities and sports facilities in the Falmer area.”
Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Martin Perry said: “We have one of the greenest transport plans of any football club in the country.
“But to really make it work in the long term, we must improve the capacity of Lewes Road to carry buses and cyclists. Any enhancement to the Lewes Road that would improve accessibility and public safety is fully supported by the club and I would urge people to support these proposals during the next round of consultation.”
Mike Best, the operations director for Brighton and Hove Buses, said: “These improvements will be great news for passengers with the new bus lane in Lewes Road speeding up bus journeys.”
Elona Hoover, of the University of Brighton, said: “The proposed infrastructure changes will have an outstanding impact on the quality and safety of staff and student travel, and we will be working with the council to ensure these changes are complemented with meaningful information, guidance and support for people to take action, creating lasting changes in travel habits.”
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