Pop-up Covid cycle lanes in Chichester removed as 'no longer needed' - could Worthing's be next?

Controversial pop-up cycle lanes in Chichester are due to be removed after public outcry, begging the question will Worthing's be next to go?

Worthing's A24 Broadwater Road cycle lanes have been widely criticised since they were put in place, taking up one lane in each direction on the major road into the town centre.

The lanes caused round-the-clock congestion which traders feared would damage the high street's recovery, block emergency vehicles and lead to increased pollution from idling vehicles.

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Chichester's cycle route has been the subject of similar criticism since its arrival in August, running from St Richard's Hospital in Spitalfield Lane through to the railway station.

The Broadwater Road cycle lane during construction

Now, West Sussex County Council has announced it will abandon the Government-led scheme as the 'extraordinary circumstances' during lockdown that led to their creation no longer exist.

Both Chichester and Worthing's cycle lanes were completed in August, by which point lockdown measures had already been significantly relaxed and the deserted roads of April and May were a thing of the past.

But the Government argued cycle lanes would allow for more walking and cycling, easing pressure on public transport and facilitating greater social distancing.

A spokesman for the county council said that, since that time, schools have returned and the Government is providing additional funding for public transport, so the pop-up cycle lanes are no longer needed for this purpose.

Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “It’s clear that while the cycleway did provide a safe route for cycling, the extraordinary circumstances during national lockdown that led to their introduction no longer exists. By removing the scheme we will return the network to its pre-pandemic state.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to provide us with feedback and reassure residents we remain committed to our long-standing, walking and cycling strategy with all the permanent benefits this will bring for active and sustainable travel. We have a continued ambition to support investment in sustainable and active travel and the data gathered and the experience of providing this cycleway will help us when delivering future schemes.”

A spokesman added a full review was conducted into the Chichester cycleway to inform the decision. This included taking into account all feedback received and data collected, including cyclist numbers. Feedback received showed the majority of responses were opposed to the cycleway.

Automatic traffic counters installed on the cycleway also indicated relatively low usage by cyclists, considering it is a busy route for other road users.

Reviews into the county's other cycle lanes will take place on a 'rolling basis' during October and November.

Cycle lanes on Worthing's A24 and Shoreham's A270 were put in place after the Government awarded £277,500. Should they follow Chichester's in being removed, that outlay would represent around two months of operation.

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