West Sussex councillor had ‘never visited’ Shoreham cycle lane before removal decision

A West Sussex county councillor who defied local councillors in removing Shoreham’s cycle had never visited the scheme in person.

Sunday, 10th January 2021, 3:49 pm

In November the council’s cabinet member for highways, Roger Elkins, opted to remove the Shoreham lane despite councillors voting 6-2 in favour of reviewing the decision.

Shoreham photographer Adam Bronkhorst, a member of cycling group Shoreham-by-Cycle, submitted a freedom of information request to ascertain whether Mr Elkins had ever officially visited the scheme in person.

Adam was incensed to discover that he had not.

Pop-up cycle lanes on Upper Shoreham Road, Shoreham. Pic Steve Robards SR201101 SUS-200211-170755001

“It’s a crazy decision, but it’s even more galling that the person who made it, going against local councillors, hadn’t even seen the lane in operation,” he said.

“If he had come along between 8am and 8:30am in the week, he would have seen kids cycling to school and lots of different people using it for different reasons.”

Visiting in person would be a sign that Mr Elkins, who lives in Ferring, was taking the matter seriously, he added.

Temporary cycle lanes were installed across West Sussex during the summer as part of a Government scheme to keep people off public transport and encourage safer cycling.

Almost all of the schemes were panned for causing congestion and impacting businesses and residents, without leading to more cycle journeys.

More than 1,000 residents signed a petition calling for the removal of Shoreham’s Upper Shoreham Road lane, with locals complaining about access to their homes and businesses, as well as delivery drivers being forced to park across drives or in the lane itself.

But, unlike other schemes, Shoreham’s lane did see a significant increase in cycle journeys without the traffic disruption seen elsewhere.

That led the county council to look at installing a redesigned, permanent lane, subject to a wider public consultation that was not possible before the emergency installation in the summer.

The lane’s supporters, backed by Shoreham county councillor Kevin Boram, argued the temporary lane should be kept in place until a permanent one can be created.

Adam said: “The lane is vital for users, including school children, to stay safe on their bikes and removing it now while a new scheme is designed is a question of public safety.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council reiterated that the pop-up cycle lane in Shoreham was always intended to be temporary.

“Councillor Elkins was able to make his decision on the basis of comprehensive reports prepared by experienced council officers, and feedback from the council’s online survey,” said the spokesman.

“We recognise the support and enthusiasm shown by some people for the Shoreham scheme, which is why we are looking to see if a redesigned, permanent proposal can be progressed, subject to Department for Transport funding. Any proposal would require consultation with all stakeholders, including residents, the cycle forum, schools, emergency services and businesses.

“We remain committed to our long-term aims of promoting sustainable transport, as outlined in our Walking and Cycling Strategy 2016-2026.”