Plans for city’s roads will be looked at again to ensure the council provides more space for exercise, walking and social distancing
The council will look again at options for reallocating road space for walking and cycling, with Green Councillors today welcoming news that more roads in the city will be subject to change as part of covid19 related transport measures.
A report discussed at a meeting of party leaders today proposed a range of measures that the council could take to respond to the Covid19 pandemic, including reducing the number of bus stops on Western Road, adding more cycling space on the A23 and a cycle lane on Marine Parade.
However, arguing for stronger, longer-term measures, Greens worked with a number of transport campaigners and the Labour council to suggest changes to the proposals.
Following a joint amendment from Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty and Labour Councillor Nancy Platts, council officers will now look again at the city’s transport plans, exploring further interventions along the A259 seafront road, greater pedestrianisation of city centre areas such as North Laine and options for a wider range of traffic calming and reduction measures. News of changes to the city’s roads follows the closure of Madeira Drive and the extension of the cycle lane on Old Shoreham Road this week.
Today’s report comes after repeated Green requests calling on the Labour council to expand space for walking and cycling and to consider the impact of vehicle traffic on ‘social distancing.’ A successful Green proposal last month proposed a reallocation of funding to widen pavements, introduce more space for cycling and exercise and bring forward road closures.  The council also committed to explore a ‘car free city centre,’ following a Green proposal in January.
Arguing for a wider strategy to enhance outdoor space in the city, Greens have called for engagement to take place with all road users and transport bodies, and say it is essential that changes brought forward now help reduce air pollution, toxic emissions and encourage walking and cycling longer-term.
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors commented:
“Time and time again Greens have asked for more action to be taken on providing better walking and cycling infrastructure in our city during lockdown and as we recover. We of course welcome the closure of Madeira Drive and the extension of the cycle lane on Old Shoreham Road and the support of Labour Councillors as we push to expand these proposals. While many had braced themselves for negative comments about the roll out of this new, albeit temporary, cycle lane, the quantity of positive comments has shown that we are being bold not needlessly – but because this type of change is needed. Our city needs to be bold, and to intervene in the transport system before it’s too late.
“At a recent committee, Greens successfully pushed the council to quickly adapt spending plans for our roads to respond to the impact of the covid19 pandemic. So it has been our view that the latest transport proposals could – and should – go much further. Working with transport groups and the Labour Council we are pleased that the council will now focus on key areas of high footfall – like our seafront, and the A259, and also include the Old Town and North Laine – areas we know will be affected by ongoing ‘social distancing’ measures, and that because of tight pavements, must be considered for ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ in consultation with local businesses, residents and transport partners.
“We also need to look at other measures to reduce car access that can be brought into high footfall areas, to immediately minimise the amount of non-essential private vehicle access. By design, this must be about prioritising resident, trader and blue-badge holder access.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty added:
“These changes are also about remembering that with a pandemic that attacks our lungs, and knowledge that our city has illegal levels of toxic air pollution, we need to take action to support good health. Further it’s about remembering that 2/3 of households in the city centre don’t own a car.
“We need to recognise that a key part of recovery means we can’t go back to the failed fume-fuelled past. There are huge benefits to improving our roads for walking and active travel – and it’s vital that any changes allowing residents to enjoy clean air, walking and safer cycling remain in place long-term.
“We have therefore also called on the council to engage with all road users, especially with the many local cycling and walking groups who can work to safeguard these policies and plans long into the future. But we must engage them more effectively and let them help us make a better city fit for recovery.”