COMMENT: Chichester cycle lanes were a grotesque failure from the start

The news that the stolen traffic lanes in Chichester are to be returned to motorists could not be more welcome.

West Sussex County Council received £781,000 of Government money to purloin the critical city centre routes and six others to create pop-up cycle lanes in the wake of the first wave of the pandemic.

It was a well-intentioned scheme and we support the county's decision to give it a go.

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But it was a grotesque failure from the start.

Picture by Steve Robards

The lanes themselves resembled road works rather than a cycling facility and from our observations the vast majority of cyclists steered well clear of them.

Instead, the traffic piled up in the halved capacity for motorists - leading to jams, congestion, pollution and a fear that emergency vehicles would be unable to make headway in a hurry.

Anger expressed on social media was overwhelming.

The government cash was for seven pop-up cycle lanes in Chichester, Bognor Regis, Worthing, Crawley, Shoreham, Horsham, and East Grinstead. Let's hope that all of them disappear - and quickly.

That does not mean that we are anti-cyclist. Far from it. But there needs to be a proper network of cycle routes that do not impinge on road-tax paying drivers nor the local economy.

Cyclists have been treated poorly by successive governments.

Some years ago, cycle lanes were marked on the widest stretches of roads where they were least needed only to suddenly disappear where the lane narrowed and the cycling risk was greatest.

No doubt, this was to attract grants based on the sum of the little bits of cycle lanes where the cost to install them was minimal.

We need proper cycling infrastructure backed by campaigns to encourage more healthy and greener means of travel.

The pop-up lanes were not those.

A good try. We condemn no-one for attempting the project.

Even more, we congratulate them for eventually realising - some considerable time after the common-sense of the public had determined the matter - that they should be removed.