Thank you for your article about cycling provision and safety in Chichester. I am writing both as a cyclist – it is my normal way of coming into the city – and car driver.
It surely should be axiomatic that cycling be encouraged and promoted: it is good for the health of cyclists; it should reduce the amount of vehicular traffic and thus hopefully mean fewer jams; it should also reduce pollution, which we all know to be a significantly increasing problem. However, for this to happen, cyclists have to feel safe, and for this to obtain there has to be a significant improvement in dedicated and safe cycling provision if people are to be encouraged to return to cycling and to cycle with young families.
While there has been some progress in cycling provision in recent years, for which I am grateful, so much more is needed:
:: We need more dedicated cycle tracks, and preferably not shared use with pedestrians. These include cycle tracks within towns and also between towns, e.g Chichester to Selsey.
:: Those cycle tracks need to be properly maintained, for instance not relying on volunteers to keep Centurion Way clear of nettles and dangerously protruding brambles, and the surface allowed to remain dangerous because of tree roots and cracks, as was the case for some months earlier this year.
:: Car parking should be banned in cycle lanes.
:: The 20mph speed limit should be enforced.
:: Cycling provision should be an inherent consideration in any new building programme.
:: If there is to be another scheme like the futile Northgate gyratory, it needs to be borne in mind in its design that exits to the gyratory are the most dangerous parts of it for a cyclist.
:: There could be more two way use for cyclists along what are otherwise one-way streets, as in the Low Countries.
:: We need more bike racks – I would put the money for the expensive replacement racks into additional racks.
I appreciate that with the financial challenges to local authorities cycling will rightly not be top of the list, when I think of the implications of on-going austerity for services such as housing support, social care, policing, and education. That said, if our councils are serious about cycling, then actions such as the above, not all of which are that expensive, should be implemented sooner rather than later. And our authorities could usefully visit and study the Netherlands and Belgium, where they really do know how to make provision for cyclists.
John Newman, Maplehurst Road, Chichester