TRANSPORT is a topic that most people have an opinion on but it is more complex than many people realise.

Convenience, speed, safety, comfort, cost, distance, weather and more, all influence our choices. Also, people don’t just travel by one form of transport; even ardent drivers get to walk at some point.

I’m often called a cyclist as I cycle most places in the city, but I often walk, take the bus, go by train and sometimes drive.

I just decide how to get from one place to another based on a range of factors. That is what most people do.

With modern technology, it’s easier to plan journeys across a variety of transport types.

Young people are not nearly as wedded to the car as my generation are, with far fewer having driving licences: they hire what they need when they need it rather than owning it. It potentially is a more efficient use of resources.

Then we have the damaging impacts caused by our over reliance on cars and lorries. Climate change, congestion, air pollution, obesity, noise, damage to buildings, loss of countryside, are just some.

Research shows we need to cut road traffic by at least 20 per cent if we’re to meet net-zero carbon by 2050.

The benefits of reducing the need to travel and traffic reduction are many. Every problem listed above diminishes with less road traffic, leading to cleaner, quieter and healthier streets and better bus services.

It’s also good for the local economy as people stop and interact more, rather than rushing past.

The problem facing many people is lack of choice. Without safe and convenient infrastructure or services, many forms of transport are just not an option. That’s particularly true for bikes and buses.

Rural bus services have been decimated over the past decade as austerity has led to cuts in many services. Yet we need to start seeing buses for the wider health and economic benefits they bring for society.

For bikes it’s slightly different. The volume and speed of road traffic prevents many from even considering cycling as a choice. Yet where infrastructure is provided, such as in London, Manchester and elsewhere, people use it. It increases choice, makes people fitter and happier and reduces pollution.

That’s why the Valley Gardens scheme is so important. For the first time it will provide a proper, safe and reasonably direct route to connect to the seafront from the London and Lewes Roads.

This will be a game changer in enabling higher levels of cycling.

But it isn’t just about cycling, it’s also about reclaiming acres of tarmac for public space creating a far more pleasant environment near the Royal Pavilion and on the seafront for tourists and residents alike.

The Palace Pier would benefit with a wider promenade.

Between the Palace Pier and West Street the promenade is at its narrowest; overcrowded during busy periods, blocking the cycle track and putting people walking and cycling into conflict.

But business has a habit of getting it wrong on transport. Similar behaviour was seen in Waltham Forest where the council wanted to reduce traffic and make streets people friendly.

Local businesses vociferously opposed the scheme, yet one of the businessmen who carried a coffin saying the scheme would kill the local economy is now one of its biggest advocates.

In Nottingham, when they introduced the workplace parking levy, the chamber of commerce said businesses would leave and investment dry up.

The reverse has happened while the city has cut carbon emissions and given road space to walking, cycling and public transport.

In 2006, Brighton businesses had to row back on claims that park and ride would reduce carbon emissions. While today the Valley Gardens Forum appears the source of many exaggerated or even false claims about the Valley Gardens scheme.

We have never faced so many environmental and social issues as we do today. We also have very different requirements to 20 years ago and we have new technology, such as smart phones, electric bikes, buses, cars and scooters.

We need to start looking at transport in a different way, with solutions fit for the 21st century, not hangovers from the 20th.

When the Dutch started on this journey 40 years ago, they met with stiff resistance from businesses, but now very few would want to turn back the clock to the car dominated spaces of yesteryear.

We need to see beyond the short-term upheaval to the long term gains for our health, our security and our economy.

Chris Todd is from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth