Unlike neighbouring Worthing, where entire lanes of the main road into town were cordoned off for dwindling numbers of cyclists, Shoreham’s lane in Upper Shoreham Road has seen cyclist journeys treble since August.
Since the scheme was mostly completed on September 25, cycle journeys more than doubled by mid-October before falling slightly over the last couple of weeks, according to a West Sussex County Council report.
In the week commencing September 21, there were 1,002 journeys, rising to 2,010 by October 12. A significant drop down to 1,146 journeys in the week commencing October 26 coincided with extremely wet weather.
The report found the number of cycle movements ‘significantly increased with minimal changes to the total number of vehicle movements’.
Average vehicle speeds were also unchanged.
A WSCC survey found more than 51 per cent of people strongly opposed the lanes being made permanent, but ‘the positive comments have been the highest for any scheme implemented’.
That is not difficult considering the almost universal panning of the other West Sussex schemes, but illustrates the jury may still be out among Shoreham’s residents.
Cycle group Shoreham-by-Cycle has been in favour of the lanes since day one and said it ‘makes no sense’ to remove them now. Several months of testing were required, the group argued.
As the scheme is not fully completed, the group also protested that a six-week review had come too soon and should only be in place once the lanes are finished.
“And with no congestion at all being created, we are unsure why there’s such a rush to do away with the best pop-up cycle lanes in West Sussex,” the group said.
As part of a campaign to save the cycle lanes, Shoreham-by-Cycle has interviewed local users, many of whom are families with schoolchildren who have only recently started to cycle as they feel more safe.
The lanes’ detractors have mostly focused on the loss of on-street parking along Upper Shoreham Road, which has affected local businesses and forced any drop-offs to take place in the middle of the carriageway.
With nowhere to park, delivery drivers have resorted to parking across drives, blocking residents and businesses and forcing cyclists to swerve out into the road to avoid them.
Shoreham’s cycle lane was part of a Government-funded scheme to encourage people to cycle and get away from public transport during the pandemic. It included lanes in Worthing, Chichester, Horsham, Crawley and East Grinstead, paid for by £784,000 of Government funding.
However, the county council’s report has revealed the cost of officer time relating to the project was not covered by the grant, which led to other projects being delayed.