BRIGHTON and Hove has been named Europe’s best city for clean and sustainable transport.

Transport experts crowned Brighton and Hove as the City of the Year in the Civitas Awards yesterday for its commitment to clean transport.

The city council was praised for its promotion of cycling and bus travel, as well as for the advice given to schools, businesses and residents on smarter transport choices.

Judges were impressed by the authority’s moves to improve cycle infrastructure, including reconfiguring “dangerous junctions” such as Seven Dials and the Vogue Gyratory and contraflow cycle lanes in North Laine.

Promoting innovations such as cycle priority, head-start lights for bikes at junctions, cycle lanes to segregate bicycles from fast traffic and a ‘floating’ bus stop in Lewes Road also helped the city claim top spot. Bus improvements, with electronic real-time boards at bus stops linked to satellite tracking and smartcard and smart phone ticketing, also helped the city claim the crown, as well as a commitment to engagement after almost 85,000 people were consulted on phases 2 and 3 of the 20mph roll-out and 70,000 people visited at home with advice on personal travel planning since 2006.

Brighton and Hove was runner-up in the awards in 2012 to San Sebastian in Spain.

The council said its initiatives had encouraged passenger numbers to grow to 46.4 million journeys a year, while the number of people cycling to work had doubled in ten years.

Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said: “These award-winning initiatives are not novel to Brighton and Hove, they represent best practice all across Europe.

“However, the difference we have made is in actually delivering best practice in Brighton and Hove, instead of the city lagging behind Britain and Europe.

“It is immensely satisfying to have this recognised by a judging panel of renowned transport experts from the UK and abroad and to have it recognised that we have involved huge numbers of residents in these decisions.”

Brighton-based transport consultant Mark Strong said the award vindicated the transport initiatives in the city.

He said: “Quite often cycling policies will be subject to a backlash that tries to make out it’s all a Green obsession, but this shows that it isn’t, it’s totally part of the mainstream.

“It’s not just cycling for cycling’s sake.

“It’s about making the city more liveable and more profitable.

“It isn’t the people rushing through in cars that spend the money in cities, it’s people walking and cycling who stop.

“In New York, which wouldn’t do anything that would impact on profit, studies show that rents go up and businesses move in on cycle-friendly roads.”

Motoring campaigner Steve Percy, of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “I can’t argue with the award, and congratulations to them, but I can’t believe that the whole of Europe has a lower standard than we have here in Brighton.

“The motorist has paid the price for this award. All these innovations have done for motorists is slow them down and made junctions harder to negotiate.”