Decline in cycling in Sussex?

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661-Pete
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Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby 661-Pete » 19 Apr 2013, 11:59am

I'm a bit bemused by this article in our local rag:
http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10366895 ... eading___/
(ignore the comments - all the 'usual stuff' of course...)

I live, and do most of my cycling, in Mid Sussex district, so this directly concerns me. If the minus-one-third figure is realistic, that's sad :( . I don't know over what period of time this decline is measured, and I haven't ploughed through DfT for the orignal data.

I can't really say, speaking for myself, that I've passed fewer cyclists on the road than before, but then I don't have the benefit of being able to interview 500 people chosen at random. One thing the article fails to remind us, is that the weather for the past year and more has been generally atrocious. The survey sets a benchmark of 'once a month' - well, in my experience, those who do cycle once a month are bound to wait for good weather, so perhaps for them it's dropped to 'once every five weeks' so they drop out of the percentile...

I personally would like to see more cyclists in rural and semi-rural areas, rather than in the big cities, but that's because of my circumstances. Oh yes, rural roads can be dangerous too, but somehow, most of use survive...

Anything else I should be considering?
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

james01
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby james01 » 19 Apr 2013, 1:26pm

Yes, the statistical gathering method here is obviously a bit questionable. However I have a gut feeling that there's a national trend developing: more cycling in urban areas where using a car can be tedious, slow and expensive (Brighton has far more cyclists in evidence than say 20 years ago and other obvious examples are Oxford and London ), but less in rural areas where motoring is still cheap and easy. So the non-cycling types (the majority?) will saddle up if they're forced to by circumstances but will always choose the car if it remains an attractive option. :(

ChrisButch
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby ChrisButch » 19 Apr 2013, 8:02pm

james01 wrote:... but less in rural areas where motoring is still cheap and easy.

If that's true in some rural areas, it certainly isn't in my own and the immediately adjacent rural areas here in the southwest, so I'd question it as a generalisation. When I started a daily long (18 mile) commute from deepest mid-Devon into Exeter nearly 30 years ago, I was the only cyclist on the road. Now there are dozens of commuters every time I go down the same road. And, particularly in the last five years or so, there's been a really quite dramatic increase in the visible presence of leisure cyclists round here, both mamils and potterers.

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admin
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby admin » 20 Apr 2013, 1:12pm

Not sure about East Sussex, but here in West Sussex we are saddled with a County Council that has made the post of Cycling Officer redundant, has no Cycling Strategy any more, and which requires cycling infrastructure (uniquely among popular modes of transport) to be funded entirely from S106 money and other occasional funding sources. Having hit this brick wall, it now looks like the only way forward is for the West Sussex Cycle Forum members (unpaid, of course) to write a Cycling Strategy for the council and try to sell it to them as being a Good Idea.

Hence investment in West Sussex transport cycling has pretty-much completely stopped. If you want to discourage people from cycling for transport, showing a complete disregard for cycling's value as a mode of transport is a good way to do that.

From a touring/leisure point of view, the general increase in the volume, speed, and physical size of motor vehicles on our country lanes is probably a factor in discouraging people for riding for pleasure. A rural speed limit lower than 60mph for country lanes would make a big difference there, I'm pretty sure.

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661-Pete
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby 661-Pete » 20 Apr 2013, 8:55pm

As it happens, I live in West Sussex, not East, although the boundary between the two counties passes only a few hundred yards from my house.

I agree that local government is failing to do its bit. Here in Burgess Hill the local Town Council (n.b. not the District or County council) used to hold a regular Environment Issues Forum, to which interested parties (mainly Councillors, also representatives from local voluntary groups), as well as members of the public, were invited to attend. My wife and I, as interested members of the public, used to turn up from time to time - and we made sure that cycling was kept on the agenda! But - with a change of controlling Party in the Town council, the forum fizzled out. :( AFAIK nothing has been done, cycling-wise, in our immediate district, for years.

I also note that we have local elections coming up - in our case for the County Council - and that the person who used to chair the Environmental Forum - a distinguished local Town and County Councillor - is standing for election again, having switched parties. I'm wondering whether to vote for him. He's not a cyclist himself AFAIK, but generally supportive.

I imagine this forum doesn't approve of political canvassing, but I'd encourage people to look at their local candidates' credentials re cycling - if I may...
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

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scottmac
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby scottmac » 13 Jun 2013, 12:04pm

I wrote to Francis Maude, MP for Horsham about cycling issues and received this reply:

Thank you for getting in touch with Mr Maude regarding dangerous driving and the effect it has on cyclists and the state of the roads in Crawley Down.

As an MP these are not matters he has any jurisdiction over but he has taken up your concerns with the Chief Executive of West Sussex County Council and will write to you again once he has received a response.

Kind regards
Libby

Libby Herbert
Parliamentary Office of
The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP


As a follow on I received this letter (see pics attached).
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patricktaylor
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby patricktaylor » 14 Jun 2013, 1:23pm

661-Pete wrote:... I agree that local government is failing to do its bit ...

Local government will do its bit when there are votes in it and when it isn't trying to make huge spending reductions, which probably means not for a long time. The statistics in this case are probably questionable in any case. A distinction should also be made between utility cycling where local authority support might (in theory) make a difference and leisure cycling (mostly in the countryside) where I doubt if there is much it can contribute. I don't cycle in Sussex but I can speak for rural lanes in the north of England and have seen nothing to suggest leisure cycling is in decline - quite the opposite.

snibgo
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby snibgo » 14 Jun 2013, 5:50pm

661-Pete wrote:I imagine this forum doesn't approve of political canvassing, but I'd encourage people to look at their local candidates' credentials re cycling - if I may...

I'd also encourage people to engage the political process, and this needn't be party-political.

For example, McDonald's wanted to build an outlet near me. I objected on the grounds that they wanted to build a car park but nowhere to park bikes. The District Council Planning Committee agreed with me, and refused permission.

Some people expected McDonald's to appeal the refusal, but they didn't -- they redrew their plans to include bike parking.

I considered this a victory, not merely by getting some bike parking, but more especially by getting District Councillors, and the planning staff, and maybe even McD's, to think more carefully about cycling.

Will this make a huge difference to cycling levels? I don't suppose so. But it all helps to normalise cycling. The receptionist in the doctor's surgery today noticed my helmet and asked if I had seen their very smart bike stand. I didn't tell her it was probably installed because I had asked for it.

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661-Pete
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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby 661-Pete » 17 Jun 2013, 5:57pm

scottmac wrote:As a follow on I received this letter (see pics attached).

Interesting that the letter you received makes reference to proposed "improvement of cycling facilities along Worth Park Avenue, Ridleys Corner to Three Bridges..." I know that road fairly well, see here, used to cycle along it regularly some years ago (I don't know what time of day Google paid its visit but it certainly wasn't weekday rush-hour when it's chock-a-block...). The point is, click away from 'street view' and you'll see a network of quiet residential streets running almost parallel with this road, some of them just the spot for unmolested cycling. Would it not make more sense to encourage cyclists to find a quiet route (maybe put up a few signs) rather than send the man with the tin of white paint along Worth Park Ave, just so as to annoy everyone, where 'facilities' are not really needed? I may be wrong, I don't live or work in Crawley, but I feel they are trying it on with this scheme just to tick a few boxes.

The tone of the letter suggests to me a brush-off (pun intended...). :mrgreen:
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

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Re: Decline in cycling in Sussex?

Postby ANTONISH » 23 Jun 2013, 2:45pm

I was cycling in East Sussex a few weeks ago. I was appalled at the number of potholes - worse than Kent - which I consider to be very bad. With the usual impatient drivers and negotiating the holes I'm not surprised at the decline.
Perhaps it's all part of the strategy to get cyclists off the roads.