Cyclists and pedestrians ‘risking their lives’ crossing the road near new Bognor Regis store
Cyclists and pedestrians are ‘risking their lives’ trying to cross the road near the access to a new Bersted store and it is only a matter of time before there is an accident.
That is the message from Adam Bell about crossing where the road to Lidl joins the A29/A259 roundabout.
Adam, who runs the Bognor Bike Hub community bike shop, is a chair of Bognor Regis Cycle Forum and a volunteer ranger for Sustrans, has launched a petition urging West Sussex County Council to install a toucan crossing.
However the county council said works were due to start towards the end of the month on a shared pedestrian and cycleway and crossings for the A29 had been the subject of road safety audits.
“With the new Lidl now open on the A29/A259 Felpham bypass roundabout, and other stores including Aldi opening soon on the other side on the Saltbox development, there is an urgent need for a toucan crossing along the A29 between that roundabout and the McDonald’s roundabout, which should have been built before the developments were allowed to go ahead,” Adam’s petition statement said.
“When trying to cross the A29 next to the roundabout, currently pedestrians and cyclists have to risk their lives due to the speed and volume of four lanes of traffic. In addition, any drivers leaving Lidl to head south are unable to see anyone crossing due to fences being in the way.
“There is already more than half the cost of a crossing available, as the Saltbox developers have been required to pay £132,500 towards a crossing of the A29/A259, so it’s vital that West Sussex County Council fund as soon as possible the balance cost of providing a toucan crossing.
“By providing a safe crossing, not only will this encourage residents to walk or cycle to the shops rather than use a car, it will also be a huge benefit to visitors to the area travelling by bike as the route forms part of the connection between Littlehampton and Chichester.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “In its capacity as highway authority, West Sussex County Council commented on the proposals for a Lidl food store.
“The county council secured highway improvements to construct a shared pedestrian/cycleway connecting from Charles Purley Way to the Oldlands Way roundabout continuing onto the existing footway into Steyning Way.
“This will provide an attractive route for pedestrians and cyclists to use.
“These works, being delivered by Lidl, are likely to take place towards the end of this month and last for approximately eight weeks.
“The crossing points over the A29 have been subject to Road Safety Audits to ensure that the design considered all safety aspects and was designed to reduce the likelihood and severity of accidents.”
Adam said all the local councils had declared a climate emergency but they are all ‘paying lip service really’.
“For a long time the government has said to put people first - pedestrians and cyclists then motorists,” he said.
“What’s happened with Lidl just shows what a complete travesty that is.”
A footpath along the A29 is only just being built, he said, and some people who want to walk or cycle there go across the field or on the rough ground by the side of the road.
“If they use the uncontrolled crossing right by the roundabout it is dangerous. You are completely invisible to traffic coming out of Lidl.
“For the traffic heading down to Bognor they are not looking left at all. It’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident.”
He said this was a key crossing point along the cycle route from Dover to Exeter, with this stretch being used by hundreds of cyclists every day.
“Without a crossing point people are going to drive and that embeds bad practice and loses the momentum. You need to make it easy for people to not use the car,” he said.
Val and Chris Cooper, members of a U3A cycling group with ages ranging from their 60s to 92, who cycle every week covering 15 to 40 miles, wrote to the Observer with similar concerns.
“We find it difficult and dangerous and cannot understand why the planning authorities granted planning permission without providing safe crossing at this point,” they said.
“With huge housing developments in our area and potential heavy ‘staycation’ traffic we need forward planning if the increase in walking and cycling, promoted in the West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy, is to be achieved. Let’s not wait for a tragedy before action is taken.”
Adam’s petition can be found at https://www.change.org/A29-Crossing