The Lewes-Ringmer cycle path moved a big step closer to completion this week, but with lingering controversy surrounding part of its route.
At a meeting on Monday, East Sussex County Council transport chief Carl Maynard gave the go-ahead for the cycle path to be completed, and for it to be routed through Mill Road in Lewes to offer cyclists the chance to avoid hazardous Earwig Corner.
But councillors representing residents of Mill Road said the route was “dangerous” and “an accident waiting to happen”, and called for Cllr Maynard to visit Mill Road himself before giving the final green light.
County councillor Rosalyn St Pierre, who represents both ends of the cycle path in Ringmer and Malling, said: “This is 90 per cent a success story, but the missing 10 per cent is threatening to undermine the whole achievement.
“It’s great that we are so close to realising a practical idea that just 10 years ago seemed a pipe dream, but if we complete the cycle path in a way that risks a child or any other cyclist getting hurt or even killed down Mill Road, we will be undermining all the good work it can do.”
The cycle path was first suggested in 2002. In 2010 the first 900 metres east of Gote Lane, Ringmer, was built, but the remainder has been held up by lack of funding and questions about where to end it.
With £420,000 now available from the government’s ‘Linking Communities Fund’, the county consulted in July on how to end the cycleway around Earwig Corner. The results show overwhelming support for routing it down Mill Road.
But in advance evidence to Monday’s meeting, Cllr St Pierre said it would be “dangerous” to have cyclists coming down Mill Road, especially in icy conditions, and the junction of Mill Road and Malling Hill was “an accident waiting to happen”.
Lewes councillor John Stockdale told the meeting: “That junction is a blind corner, traffic frequently does 40mph down Malling Hill, and the residents of Mill Road have gathered a petition saying they think the road is dangerous for the cycle path.”
The council’s report says routing the path through Mill Road would still offer cyclists the chance to use Earwig Corner. Cllr Maynard said: “There will be a full safety audit, and people will make their choice on which route they use.”
Ringmer councillor Chris Bowers told the meeting: “We’re very encouraged that the cycle path is so close to being completed, but none of us want a dead or injured cyclist on our conscience, so we want safety along Mill Road to be properly assessed.”