The scheme would see a seven-mile long off-road route link Chichester and Emsworth. Highways England said it was working to develop a solution ‘that works for both pedestrians and cyclists’.
However, villagers and local cycle groups have expressed concerns over the scheme, which was announced in June, with many fearing that pedestrians would be put at risk when sharing the pavement with cyclists.
Elderly resident Harry Harrison, who protested on the pavement outside St John’s Church in Southbourne with his wife, Clare, on Saturday, said they ‘cannot believe’ the plans.
He added: “Surely, in law, the pavements are only for use by pedestrians and should remain so.
“How are children, elderly and vulnerable residents be able to walk safely, when cyclists are on the pavements coming both ways at the same time at 20 mph? This can only lead to accidents, even if they keep to the speed limit.
“We are totally against this highly dangerous plan.
“By all means improve the A259 roadway for cyclists, but not at the cost of losing the rights of pedestrians and their safety.”
In Fishbourne, residents met on the A259 in the village outside a cottage, displaying signs asking for pavements to remain dedicated safe spaces for pedestrian use.
Resident Anne Thompson, who lives on Fishbourne Main Road, said the plans seemed ‘preposterous’, adding: “No one was consulted. It’s a complete nonsense.
“Many of us [who are against the plans] are cyclists but it is completely ludicrous to have a two-way cycle way directly outside our houses. It is frankly dangerous. They should take the existing cycle ways and make them better.”
Fellow Main Road resident Geoff Allen said residents have been kept in the dark.
He said: “We didn’t have a clue this was going on. We find it quite offensive.
“You will have cyclists coming both ways when there are kids walking to school and quite a lot of elderly people going to the bus stops. It just doesn’t seem very wise. It’s ill thought through.”
Committed campaigner Mark Record claimed that the project ‘threatens instead to reduce levels of provision’ for both pedestrians and cyclists.
He added: “Removing cycle-lanes from the road and re-routing cyclists onto the pavements will only reduce the total space available for walking and cycling.
“It will also encourage faster and larger volumes of motor vehicle traffic along the A259 through our historic harbour villages.”
In a joint statement issued by Highways England, West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council, it was stated that the proposed scheme ‘seeks to provide a consistent and safe standard of provision’ for both pedestrians and cyclists along the A259 between Chichester and Emsworth.
It added: “The proposals have been subject to a Highways England funded feasibility study which considered both on and off carriageway solutions.
“Noting various constraints along the corridor, the study recommended that a shared pedestrian/cycle path would meet the core design principles of safety, directness, coherence, comfort and attractiveness, and could be delivered using the land available within the highway boundary.
“Funding has been allocated to develop this solution further.
“The differing rural/urban characteristics of the corridor and the provision of a consistent standard means Highways England cannot provide a segregated route without significant changes to the road layout or the purchase of additional land.
“Both of these constraints are currently outside of this project’s remit.
“Highways England are currently procuring a delivery partner to take the project forward.
“This commission consists of further data gathering, early engagement with interested parties, a review of the recommended solution against the recently published design guidance and production of a preliminary design.
“We currently anticipate that this stage of the project will commence during Autumn 2020.
“We have received significant interest on the proposals published to date.
“We will be engaging with interested parties at key stages throughout the project’s development.
Should you or your interest group wish to be included in the list of such parties, please let us know by emailing [email protected]”
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