CYCLISTS have been given the official green light to pedal along Bognor Regis promenade.
Approval to use the seafront paving for two-wheeled transport was narrowly agreed by Arun District Council members.
A council spokeswoman said after the meeting: “The intention is that the cycling signage will be in place which will allow cycling on the promenade this summer.”
Cllr Paul Dendle, who is in charge of the council’s environmental services, told councillors: “Most people who took part in our leisure strategy consultation wanted more proper cycleways. This fits in very much with that. It will be good for tourism and good for wellbeing.”
The vote at a special meeting of the council last Wednesday was one of the tightest in the council’s recent history.
It was passed 17 votes to 14 with five abstentions. The decision confirmed the recommendation of the council’s Bognor Regis subcommittee last October.
It enabled cyclists to legally travel the some 1.75km between the junction with Nyewood Lane and Gloucester Road. The route will link from there with the area’s first shoreline cycleway for 700m to Outram Road, in Felpham.
Supporters and opponents of the move spoke with equal passion about the benefits or perils of allowing cyclists to mix freely with seafront strollers.
Cllr Roger Nash (Lab, Pevensey) said: “I welcome this. Unofficially, cycling has been going on along the seafront for quite a long time.
“This move is long overdue. I hope people make responsible use of it. It will need to be carefully monitored to see if there are any dangers ot pedestrians walking along there.”
Cllr Francis Oppler (Lib Dem, Orchard) said: “This is a positive thing for everybody. I know some people have reservations about the safety aspect.
“But it happens now. Every day, there are scores and scores of people cycling along the seafront. It is the most natural thing to do.”
But Cllr Dougal Maconachie (Con, Barnham), who has lived 100 yards from the seafront for 28 years, said: “I am totally against this. It’s waiting for an accident to happen like it did in Worthing several years ago. You should remember my words.
“The prom gets very busy between Gloucester Road and the pier from April to September. There are a lot of concessions and from the pier to the yacht club the prom narrows and there is another train.
“Proms are for walking, not cycling. People using them are youngsters on skateboards, mobility scooters, mums with pushchairs and dog walkers.”
Cllr Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) said: “People do not expect to see things coming at them on the prom.
“I have to hope having proper signs will help but I can’t help feeling a cycle path would be better on the road.”
Cllr Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) said: “There are cyclists who ignore traffic lights and they will ignore these signs. I’m deeply concerned we are going down the wrong road with this.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you support the extension of cycling along the seafront? Have your say in the voting panel to the right, and leave your comments below.