Two Eastbourne men have called for cycling to be encouraged and made safer in the town.
Robert Price originally took to social media to question a sign that suggested cyclists could get a £500 fine for riding on the promenade.
He said, “Ride a bicycle on Eastbourne prom and be fined £500. Drive your car on Eastbourne prom and park there, you ‘may’ be fined £60. Is one really eight times more serious than the other?”
Mr Price, who is the founder of Clean Air Eastbourne, also questioned the ban on bikes in Terminus Road.
He said, “We’ve seen bicycles banned in Terminus Road, so we have the silly situation of an advanced stop line for bicycles outside the railway station - giving bicycles priority to enter a road they are banned from.
“We’ve seen East Sussex County Council (ESCC) proposing a one-way cycle lane along the seafront that blocked access to the hotels instead of looking at reallocating space on the promenade-side of the road.
“We need to encourage more people to get on their bicycles, and to do this we need to make cycling safer in Eastbourne.”
Andrew Durling, who is a coordinator at Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth and a director at Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030, also agreed that cycling could be made safer in the town.
He said, “We need a joined-up network of dedicated cycle paths that protect the cyclists from traffic and walkers.
“There are some bits of safe cycling paths in Eastbourne but they are few and far between and not joined-up.
“What we need is a comprehensive and cohesive joined-up network of dedicated cycle paths throughout the town so people feel safe to go out on bikes.
“At the moment we have to take risks as cyclists.”
Along with making the system safer for people on bikes, Mr Durling also spoke about the environmental benefits cycling has.
He said, “One of the biggest benefits is it will reduce air pollution from traffic.
“We will see a dramatic increase in air pollution because, unfortunately, there are far too many cars on the road locally.”
Mr Durling also said a reduction in air pollution could allow local biodiversity to flourish.
The Eastbourne environmentalist also discussed the health benefits cycling can offer including a reduced chance of heart disease.
He said, “That of course reduces the pressure on the NHS, which is a very big issue at the moment.”
Overall, Mr Durling said cycling is a win-win as residents can improve their health, save money and cut emissions.
An ESCC spokesperson said, “We recognise the huge benefits cycling and walking have on people’s health and wellbeing, as well as improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions, and we have recently set out an ambitious network of preferred cycling and walking routes in our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan to support active travel around the county.
“Delivery of the plan relies on our ability to secure external funding and we continue to work closely with partners to achieve this.
“While we want to encourage cycling, it’s important that the network of cycle routes is right for cyclists, pedestrians and businesses.
“With the improvements in Terminus Road designed to encourage walking and more of a café culture in the pedestrianised sections of the route up to the seafront, also allowing cycling could present a safety issue to pedestrians and people with mobility difficulties.
“However, we have just finished consulting on five cycling schemes in Eastbourne, which includes a town centre route between the rail station and the seafront and for which funding has been secured. A report will shortly be presented to the lead member for a decision.”
When talking about the seafront cycle route, the county council said that in response to the pandemic in the summer of 2020, the Government made money available to local authorities for temporary schemes to help people get around safely.
The spokesperson said, “We did initially propose a temporary seafront cycle route but were always clear that we would not implement any measures that did not have the support of the community.
“After consultation with a range of stakeholders including businesses and cycling groups, there were views both for and against the introduction of the temporary cycle route and on balance we decided not to proceed with the seafront scheme.”
Eastbourne Borough Council said the sign suggesting cyclists on the promenade could get fined is being removed and no-one has had to pay £500.