The consultation on Highways England proposals for improvement of the A27 between Lewes and Polegate closed on the 4th December, 2015. The document can be read here: Consultation brochure. Our response can be read here: a27-cons-11-16. Please also see the excellent response from Bricycles, here: a27-bricycles-response
We were supportive of the proposals on the whole and added some pointers to potential problems, opportunities and measures which we thought could be usefully be adopted. A cycle route suggested along the entire A27 was supported with suggestions that north-south pedestrian/cycle routes could be integrated and improved, while at the Polegate end, there was a lack of clarity as to how pedestrians and cyclists could proceed in any direction.
This last point also applies to integration of the A27 measures with the measures hinted at but as yet far from clear, for the Hailsham – Polegate – Eastbourne ‘sustainable transport corridor’ (stc) for which several million pounds have been promised by South East Enterprise Partnership (SELEP). Development has been slow with a seven year lapse between quite detailed ‘first drafts’ and delayed further progress towards bus priority and other sustainable transport measures: for whatever reason be it ‘low priority’ or scarce resources, the ambitious change needed to challenge ‘car dependency’ and reduce congestion hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, housebuilding has proceeded apace between Polegate and Hailsham making congestion incrementally worse. With no high quality ‘step change’ in alternatives to the car, and no incentives to rebalance transport away from car dependency, quality of life deteriorates. Many still remember the rail connection which until the 60s offered a 17 minute journey time between Hailsham and Eastbourne.
On top of this, we feel that ‘integration’ of modes with each other has fallen out of fashion, and was certainly absent from the Highways England consultation process. That is despite the identification of the need to disaggregate the nature of local traffic from longer distance movements in order to determine the measures most appropriate to solve identified problems. Measures to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users for the whole range of journey purposes and destinations is not at the core of the A27 consultation.
That leads to the other essential and sadly absent remedy of transport integration: there is a lack of integration with other areas of policy, notably: health, land use, environment, economy, social equity.
Below: a template for Drusilla’s Roundabout – a suggested design from Holland and adopted for a scheme in Cambridge (featured in Local Transport Today 711):
BIKES BUSES TRAINS – INTEGRATION
There are now greatly improved and expanded cycle storage facilities at railway stations in East Sussex; good cycle/pedestrian links from residential areas to the stations don’t yet exist though some are partially complete. There are certainly some bus stops where cycle storage could usefully be provided, especially where the bus service is regular – as on the Brighton and Hove 12 routes, and the Stagecoach 99/100 routes. And why not on the Brighton – Lewes – Uckfield – Crowborough – Tunbridge Wells route 28; the Eastbourne – Hailsham – Heathfield – Tunbridge Wells route 51 or the Eastbourne – Uckfield 54? The facility works well in the Netherlands: it’s useful and therefore used.
On a Dutch bus route that uses a major road for part of its transit, anyone from a small settlement close to the road can cycle to the roadside and park their bike in a purpose built shelter. Village bus stops also have cycle racks and often shelters. Below in Holland:
Information displays on board the bus and train can be both clear and comprehensive: here are three good examples from Holland-
…and an on board bus display including connecting train times at interchange:
….and this on-board train display:
Bike storage in general would benefit from ‘conspicuous expansion’ to send a strong message challenging the ongoing epidemic of ‘car dependency’ – increasingly important to stave off future health crises. In the current atmosphere of stress in the NHS, it is very unfortunate indeed that helpful preventative measures are weakly applied and investment in ‘active travel measures’ so timidly pursued and under resourced. This wittingly or unwittingly preserves the status of the private car above healthy, sustainable modes, and prolongs its primacy in transport and land-use planning to the detriment of us all.
Walking and cycling infrastructure urgently in need of expansion in the minds of planners and on the ground, along with and step changes in public transport integration and provision please.
Recently published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, ‘Exercise: The miracle cure and the role of the doctor in promoting it’ – lead author Mrs Scarlett McNally – gives clear descriptions of the role of regular exercise in combating and preventing unwelcome and life threatening illnesses, and quantifies the reduction in health risks for particular conditions. The publication contains a comprehensive list of useful references and can be seen here:
HELP NEEDED FOR WALKING FAMILIES AND THE ‘JUST ABOUT MANAGING’ (TO CROSS THE ROAD)
Those battling (often intimidating) traffic at ‘school run’ time need help. This was a scene in early December in Eastbourne:
Numbers of children walking to school is falling. Numbers being driven to school is rising (National Travel Survey, 2015 – link here):
At age 7 – 11, I walked to school in Etchingham – a mile away. Trees, fields, hedgerows, gardens, sun,rain, frost, snow, friends. A lot less traffic than today. I remember the thrill at spotting in spring an emerging carpet of bluebells, wood anenomes and a sprinkling of primroses and early purple orchids, rivers in spate after heavy rain – and the whole procession of seasonal change. Fifty nine years later, the sensations remain. It’s still thrilling and enormously comforting and sometimes consoling: a certain aid to my mental wellbeing – and through the lifelong habit of walking – my physical health too. But there’s an underlying fear: those places and sensations can still be found, but development pressure, accompanied by the ubiquitous and expanding presence of motor traffic, is a continuing and growing threat to the human right of all generations – especially children – to be able to enjoy and learn from these wonderful experiences on foot or by bicycle.
MARMOT REVIEW 2010
This explored evidence into the most effective ways to reduce health inequalities. Five of the objectives 1 – 6 below would be more easily achieved if the children in the photo had a safer, healthier and more pleasant experience in walking (or cycling) to school. Author, Sir Michael Marmot added his voice this week (January 5th) to voices calling for action on particulate pollution and traffic reduction.
The final report, ‘Fair Society Healthy Lives‘, was published in February 2010, and concluded that reducing health inequalities would require action on six policy objectives:
- 1. Give every child the best start in life
- 2. Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives
- 3. Create fair employment and good work for all
- 4. Ensure healthy standard of living for all
- 5. Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities
- 6. Strengthen the role and impact of ill-health prevention.
HOW TO TELL A HEALTHY STREET?
The table to be seen (and enjoyed) below was compiled for Transport for London by Lucy Saunders and published in ‘Improving the health of Londoners – Transport Action Plan’ TfL 2014. It would apply anywhere though. I invite you to have a look:
MORE ON INTEGRATION:
The ‘real time’ bus information systems are now partially installed – welcome and useful – but gaps remain. The important interchange at Hastings Station has yet to be equipped, and further potentially important locations are also missing the facility. Among others: inside the FE College, Conquest Foyer, Sackville Road, Bexhill, Eastbourne District General Hospital, inside ticket halls at Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and St Leonards, Warrior Square stations. This would further advance the status of the bus.
The ‘complementary measures’ promised to accompany the Bexhill To Hastings Link Road have been delayed. This prompted us to write to Bob Pape at East Sussex County Council (ESCC) who provided answers to questions on the timings of implementation. The questions and answers can be read here:bhlr-bob-papes-answers.
We note that when the bus lanes are completed, cyclists will be allowed to use them. Alarmingly, we also note that motorcyclists will also be permitted to use them. We strongly object to that. Additionally, we note that there will be no demand management measures applied to motor traffic: this will therefore not create incentives for motorists to consider leaving their cars at home and using the bus for the overwhelmingly short trips that characterise traffic in Hastings and Bexhill. It will reduce the ‘value for money’ performance of the bus priority measures and undermine further the temporary relief of traffic afforded by the BHLR, thus reducing its ‘value for money’. It will also reduce the commercial viability of the bus operations. Bus lane construction will begin ‘in spring, 2017’. We support the position of Cycling England on this issue, here: motorbikes-bus-lanes
Utility cycling will grow as long a facilities exist to encourage it, and if permissive attitudes towards careless, intimidating and aggressive driving styles are seriously challenged. Storage at St Mary’s House, Eastbourne is often full to overflowing as the photo below shows. It’s not seasonal either – this view is from 27th November, and the racks are still full now (January). Staff would like a covered extension in the same location. That would send the right message and encourage visitors to cycle too.
PREDICTED GROWTH IN TRAFFIC* AT LITTLE COMMON IS NOW WITH US – BUS PRIORITY MEASURES PLEASE, ASAP
Housing developments leap ahead around Bexhill and expensive major road projects command ESCC’s attention, while sustainable, healthy transport infrastructure lags behind. This ensures that the land hungry and unhealthy ‘car habit’ continues to grow and become established.
Alternatives always have to catch up, ‘bolted onto’ but never at the heart of transport strategy. They can never reach their full potential while disadvantaged in this way while transport strategy seems to us to be designed with the interests of the motor trade at its centre. The relief afforded to Bexhill Road is temporary and the delay to the bus priority measures will – day by day – see traffic growing back. These measures can’t be expected now until a full 2 years after the BHLR opening. Traffic was predicted to rise anyway, but at a faster pace west of Bexhill – and moreso because of planned development there. That’s why we think that to get full value for money, bus priority measures should as soon as possible be introduced to the west of Little Common roundabout where congestion frequently penalises bus passengers using the 99 route between Eastbourne and Hastings. It would be ironic and extremely frustrating if the problem of diminishing congestion relief on Bexhill Road was compounded by increasing congestion on this stretch of the A259 within the Hastings – St Leonards – Bexhill conurbation.
* Predicted in 2010 to rise between 10% – 11% west of Little Common without the housing development now going ahead.
RESTORING A LOST RURAL BUS ROUTE – ANY CHANCE?
With a surge in visitor numbers simultaneous with withdrawal of the summer Sunday 349 bus service connecting Hastings – Sedlescombe – Bodiam – Sandhurst – Hawkhurst, we thought it worth a try to get the bus back. With support from parishes en-route, Rother Transport Action Group and Rother Voluntary Action, we are trying to do just that. Neither optimistic nor pessimistic, we are continuing our efforts. There is a chance, we believe, that the inexorable rise in visitor numbers to Bodiam, and, following the devaluation of sterling, the predicted rise in visitor numbers from the eurozone, could give the route (and maybe others in the county) a more financially sustainable future. Increased oil prices at the pump, could also help to make the bus a more attractive option while better marketing of the attractions en-route would also help. More in the next post – or sooner.
ROAD SAFETY AND CRASH STATISTICS
The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) publish monthly crash statistics for the two Sussex county authorities. These give a breakdown on severity, different groups affected, location, and efforts to effect behavioural change, etc.
Following a truly awful year for casualties in 2009 (East Sussex), the years following saw a reduction in numbers killed and seriously injured, (KSI) . Since then, casualties have begun worsening again. We have asked SSRP for updates on efforts to significantly reduce crashes and also for information on any national studies/conclusions by or from interested groups and organisations. We do receive updates via the Rother Transport Action Group through reports from ESCC: these are useful, but progress is elusive. We must not give up though…
Please see the data portal via the website. Link here:
EASTBOURNE DISTRICT GENERAL AND CONQUEST HOSPITALS – CROSS SITE TRANSPORT GROUP
This group – originated in March 1999 – has pursued and enacted measures, modest but real, to secure healthy and sustainable transport alternatives for employees of the two hospitals as well as users of their services, together with students and staff of the adjacent college of further education just a few yards away. Attendees of the group have included county and borough council officers, officers of the two hospitals responsible for access, Sussex Downs FE College, Bespoke and HUB – the two towns’ cycle interest pressure groups, Stagecoach, and Brighton and Hove Bus Company reps, Sustrans, Campaign for Better Transport, and Employees representatives.
The group met for the first time in a year and a half in early December and heard pleas to speed up cycle infrastructure in Hastings, pursue the Hailsham – Polegate – Eastbourne ‘sustainable transport corridor’ scheme, investigate improved bus links and extend ‘real time passenger information’ systems – including to hospital/college foyers as well as other key locations. The need to re-vamp the ‘health improvement’ message and objective of the measures were also discussed, these being part of the ‘founding principles’ for the group, and an offer from Sustrans of electric bikes was tabled. The FE college reported fewer vehicles being used by students and staff and the hospitals continued to update their communications to staff with advice on alternatives to the car.
Stagecoach assured the meeting that bus services and routes were reviewed from time to time and opportunities to serve key passenger objectives would be considered. Bus stops on The Ridge (Hastings) were being improved to ease the bus transit and reduce delays. Following the meeting, we submitted suggestions for a route modification to serve Eastbourne station, hospital, colleges, all-weather sports venues, St Wilfrid’s hospice, Sainsbury’s, bowling alley, Morrisons, Aldi and Hampden Park (east). This route could be part of an existing service and could also benefit from a ‘bus only’ lane between the hospital and college linking Kings Drive and Cross Levels Way.
TRANSPORT AND ENVIRONMENT – T&E – recommendation:
This Brussels based organisation lobbies for measures to secure a more sustainable and healthy future in the world of transport and planning. It carries out research and regularly publishes articles on campaign initiatives. You can sample the very informative content via this link:
Nottingham. A medium sized city with one of the best public transport networks in the UK. Not by accident. This city, home of Boots, with a 3,000 space car park, took a decision to implement a ‘workplace parking levy’ (wpl) as a means to raise funds for much needed transport improvements, including an extension to its existing successful tram network.
The ‘wpl’ applies to all workplaces in the city with 11 or more spaces: for each space, a charge is made. Many firms – including Boots – threatened to leave the city if the scheme went ahead. Boots were prepared to move their car park outside the city to avoid the charge. Two years later and, despite all the threats, no single firm has quit the city: there is 100% compliance. Instead, they – and the citizens and visitors – enjoy the transport improvements, including the new tram lines. The revenue helps to fund the bus network too and supports transport packages to help firms and institutions develop workplace travel plans which seek to reduce congestion and car dependency by improving the whole range of alternatives.
Not surprisingly, other local authorities are looking to explore and assess the benefits of a ‘wpl’. The list is growing, with Oxford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Bath – all evaluating the benefits and costs. Why not East Sussex for Eastbourne and Hastings? At least – have a serious look at it.
Simultaneously, we could adopt a housebuilding policy that included building homes on 50% of town centre car parks. This would:
- solve the housing crisis for all, including the homeless
- create conditions that supported a first class public transport system
- Reinforce town centre economies by using ‘dead space’
- deliver health benefits as conditions for walking and cycling would improve greatly
- create public ‘green spaces’ through reducing land take for parking
- improve air quality
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- reduce flood risk as gardens would be restored and hard standing for vehicles reduced
- immediately create jobs in the design/construction industry with local firms providing many services
Not our idea, but that of the chief economist of Jacobs Consultancy, a major US international consultancy favoured by East Sussex County Council for work on the BHLR.
See presentation here – thought provoking – and already referred to in January 2016 post. No apology for reminder:
PART TIME SEASON TICKETS
Re previous post: Southern are still not offering these to workers mixing ‘home-working’ and commuting some days a week. Keep asking and pressing. Property in London is increasingly unaffordable so people are choosing/having to move out only to be penalised with ever rising, above inflation rate train fares for a worsening service. A lose, lose situation.
DEVOLUTION: ESCC CONTRIBUTE £20,000 FOR POSSIBLE OF A SUB-NATIONAL TRANSPORT BODY ‘TRANSPORT FOR THE SOUTH-EAST -TfSE.
Along with 10 other SE authorities, ESCC have committed to develop a regional transport body. described below:
‘The South East Seven (SE7) Councils (Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey County Councils, and Brighton & Hove City Council and Medway Council) and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) that represent the area have discussed the establishment of an SNTB for the South East, to be called Transport for the South East (TfSE). A TfSE on this geographic scale would fulfil the DfT’s minimum geographic size requirements. Discussions will shortly commence with Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight and the Solent LEP about joining TfSE.’ (Kent CC Website)
It’s success depends upon the range of voices represented and the objectives it intends to deliver. Pause for thought! Ask your elected members!
CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER TRANSPORT WEBSITE for up to date news on campaigns and research:
Best wishes to all – and especially for sustainable, healthy transport in 2017.
TWO VERY ENCOURAGING STATISTICS:
On the A259, heading in to Brighton in the morning peak, 45% of the people were travelling in 2% of the vehicles (i.e. buses). An excellent justification for the bus lane! Figures from Brighton and Hove buses.
From January 1st, Dutch Railways (NS) report that 100% of their train services run on wind generated electricity.
County Officer, Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex