A BATTLE is raging over a controversial “Covid cycle lane” on a major dual carriageway.

In May, residents woke up to the new cycle route taking up two lanes of the A270 Old Shoreham Road, one of the main arteries into and out of Hove to the west of the city.

Since then, campaigners have battled over the future of the lane with some wanting it made permanent and others wanting it scrapped.

The Argus:

The showdown is set to come to a head at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on July 23 where the rival factions will present their petitions to councillors.

Speaking at the cycle lane’s junction with Olive Road in Hove yesterday, Conservative councillor for Hangleton and Knoll Dawn Barnett said: “This is Bedlam, it’s horrendous and I don’t understand how anyone can think this is an improvement.

The Argus:

“I don’t disagree with cycle lanes, but not one big enough to drive a tank through.

“This was underhanded and done overnight and I, along with my residents, want to know when it will be removed.

“The Greens and Labour think they’re going to get rid of cars, but I’m sorry, they’re not.”

Some people have raised concerns the cycle lane is not being used by cyclists.

When The Argus visited the section at the junction with Olive Road between 4.25pm and 4.40pm yesterday, we saw six cyclists.

The Argus:

A petition from Peter Challis entitled Remove Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane Extension has been signed by 2,318 people.

You can sign it yourself by clicking here.

The petition says the lane was implemented without reference to the environment committee, nor all the affected councillors” and without any consultation with the electorate or any transport groups other than the cycling charity Sustrans.

It says: “It does not meet the Government’s criteria for a ‘Covid cycle lane’ as there is little public transport using this section of road.

The Argus:

“Since its introduction, the use by cyclists is minimal, mainly as a result of the route being hilly and not linking anywhere of any real interest.

“The remaining single lane used for other traffic is seeing increasing traffic and subsequent congestion at junctions as Government lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

"It seems there has been no active monitoring of traffic flows in the Old Shoreham Road or in adjoining roads, nor any measurement of emission levels to identify whether or not this is a net improvement to the local environment.”

Despite the backlash, the new cycle lane has proved popular with some people.

The Argus:

Photo credit: Joe Taylor

Environmental activists Extinction Rebellion Brighton held a weekend “bike carnival” to celebrate the introduction of the lane.

Rick Lyons, a spokesman for the group, said: “It’s important to remember the Conservative Government has instructed councils to reallocate road space to forms of active travel.

“There is a consensus across the political parties that we need more cycling and walking so people can travel safely during the pandemic while cutting pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

The Argus:

“By creating the new cycle route, the council has implemented the Conservatives’ vision and made a really positive step towards achieving safe and clean transport in our city.

“Evidence from traffic counts on the route show that traffic is flowing freely along the road and cyclists are using the new lane. The numbers of cyclists using the route will only increase as it is linked up with other safe cycle routes.”

A rival petition from Chris Williams, called “Make the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane extension permanent and establish a city-wide cycle network” has been signed by 2,185 people.

You can sign it yourself by clicking here.

It states: “About 30 per cent of households in the city do not have a car.

“Given current advice to avoid public transport, walking and cycling are obvious options.

“With the reduced traffic in lockdown, there has been a huge rise in the number of people cycling but many people who wish to cycle feel unsafe doing so in dense, fast-moving traffic, such as that found on the Old Shoreham Road. The solution to this is segregated cycle lanes.

The Argus:

“Cities that have invested in cycle networks, such as Copenhagen, have seen a big rise in cycling and a drop in car use. This means that streets are less congested, the air is cleaner and people who have no alternative but to use a car can get about more quickly and easily.

“Although isolated cycle lanes on key roads are better than nothing, we will not see a large shift from car to bicycle use until there is a full network.”

Chairwoman of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, Anne Pissaridou said: “We are seeing huge change in the way people are moving around the city, with many more people choosing to walk and cycle.

“The Old Shoreham Road cycle Lane is among a range of temporary measures which have been put in place to ensure cycling and walking is safe and to encourage people to physically distance, while also supporting Brighton & Hove’s economic recovery.

“I am committed to making sure residents are asked for their views on these changes. I would urge people to have their say and I look forward to seeing the results.”

Have your say in a consultation by clicking here.