Hastings Alliance calls for investment in alternatives

PRESS RELEASE 6 March 2007

In a response to the National Audit Commission (NAC) report on the number and costs of road casualties (1), the Hastings Alliance Against the Link Road call for greater investment in walking, cycling and public transport in Hastings and Bexhill.

Speaking for the Alliance, Chairman Nick Bingham said:

With an annual figure of 3,000 deaths and 237,000 injuries on our roads, a programme of implementing 20mph zones across residential areas of Hastings and Bexhill would be a proper, effective, timely and value for money response to the report. As well as reminding us of the numbers of casualties, the report highlights the poor record of road safety in the UK in relation to child accidents. Currently a child pedestrian in the UK is three times more likely to die on our roads than in Italy and twice as likely as in France. Quite apart from the trauma experienced by family and friends of victims, the costs of this unacceptable carnage are estimated to be £470 million to the NHS and £8 billion to the economy.

We know that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) failed to properly examine and evaluate the full range of alternatives to the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road before deciding to press for its construction (2). We also know that if road casualties are to be reduced, challenging car culture, and particularly the culture of speed and aggressive driving styles, is essential. Research shows that reduction of traffic speeds to 20mph in residential areas is fundamental in promoting strong growth in walking and cycling, as well as dramatically reducing the severity of accidents (3). It allows streets to become shared spaces where children may play and learn to cycle safely. It also encourages social activity and reduces noise and pollution. The introduction of 20mph zones would help to bring this about for a fraction of the cost of BHLR. Where widely adopted, these measures have resulted in child casualties (killed and seriously injured) falling by 74% (4). They should undoubtedly now feature in the Community Strategies and Local Development Framework strategies for Rother and Hastings councils.

With the costs of BHLR soaring from £47 million to £89 million (ESCC, Feb 2007) we have a duty to stop trying to build our way out of congestion (it doesn’t work) and to examine all alternatives. A good starting point would be adoption of the measures described, backed up with public transport which itself is inherently safer than the private car. The tragic loss of a life on the railway in Cumbria this week, added to the 9 deaths on the railway in 5 years, should be set alongside the 15,000 deaths and one million injuries on the roads during the same period It is quite clear in what direction major initiatives should now lie, and these do not include the traffic generating and environmentally destructive Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.

Notes for Editors:

1. Audit Commission Report on road deaths, 26th Feb 2007

2. Bexhill to Hastings Link Road: Investigation of Alternatives, Denvil Coombe. East Sussex Transport 2000, 2006.

3. House of Commons Transport, local Government and the Regions Committee: Road Traffic Speed, 2002.

4. Kingston upon Hull: the 20mph City, Hull City Council, 2002.

Nick Bingham, Chairman,

Hastings Alliance

Court Lodge Oast, Rye. TN31 6BB. 01424 883319/446373

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