Chichester to Emsworth cycle link: Campaigners suggest alternative plans amid safety concerns

Campaigners have drawn up alternative plans for a Chichester to Emsworth cycle link amid concerns over pedestrian’s safety.

A scheme, announced in June by Highways England, West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council, would see a seven-mile long off-road route link Chichester and Emsworth. Planners said they were working to develop a solution ‘that works for both pedestrians and cyclists’.

However, villagers and local cycle groups have expressed concerns over the plans to ‘turn pavements into two-way cycle tracks’, with many fearing that pedestrians would be put at risk when sharing the pavement with cyclists.

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Along with the Bournes Forum Working Group, Chichester and District Cycle Forum has drawn up an alternative proposal, to keep cyclists and pedestrians separate.  

Conceptual image of segregated cycle lanes, separated from the footpath. Designed by Chichester and District Cycle Forum and Bournes Forum Working Group

A joint-statement read: “The proposal is to have smooth continuous lightly segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the road running all the way from the cross in Chichester to the A27 underpass to the west of Emsworth.

“Where the road is narrow, four 20mph traffic calmed zones would be set up in Hermitage, Southbourne, Nutbourne and Fishbourne.

“There would always be a separate pavement for pedestrians in built up areas.

“Even in the pinch points, cycle lanes would continue straight on, on both sides of the road and be marked as separate from the footpath.”

Current proposals ‘fail to meet’ new government guidelines

Chichester and District Cycle Forum said the route has an ‘appalling record’ for cycling accidents.

A spokesperson said: “Between 2013 and 2018, 40 per cent of all vehicle accidents involved cyclists, mainly bikes being hit by cars, and yet traffic flow data shows that cyclists only account for 2 per cent of journeys.

“For many people it has become too dangerous to cycle so new, safe, continuous cycle lanes are long overdue.

“The Highways England scheme is for a 2.5 to 3.5 m wide shared path running most of the way from Emsworth to Chichester. This is a shared two-way cycle lane and footpath.

“The plans have received considerable opposition from local residents due to the conflict of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the same space.”

The campaigners said the latest UK Government cycle infrastructure guidelines have ‘forced Highways England to rethink the design’.

“It fails to meet these guidelines,” the spokesperson said. “On urban streets, physically separate cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists must be treated as vehicles.

“Highways England have agreed to work with local stakeholders to review the plans in line with the latest guidelines.”

The new government guidelines on cycle infrastructure has been regarded as a ‘game-changer’.

“Our ambition is for a safe, continuous segregated cycle route in both directions between Emsworth and Chichester.

“With careful research, design and consideration of the wider context of the A259, this project can deliver a series of revitalised village centres, providing far more than an enhanced cycle track.

“A full and transparent consultation with the public is required.”

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