Required changes for Chichester to Emsworth cycle route ‘broadly accepted’

Ways to redesign the proposed Chichester to Emsworth cycle route have been put to National Highways.

Last year the organisation, formerly Highways England, consulted on measures to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists using the six-mile stretch of the A259.

While the need for improvements is widely recognised, the current design of the scheme has been criticised by a number of cycle forums and elected representatives.

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Lib Dem county councillors Julian Joy (Chichester West) and Andrew Kerry-Bedell (Bourne) have been working with a number of other figures and organisations behind the scenes to build a consensus for exactly what needs to change with what is known as the ChEmRoute.

Julian Joy and Andrew Kerry-Beddell have been pressing for a redesign of the proposed ChEmRoute

They describe how National Highways ‘have their own unique way of looking at road projects that doesn’t always appeal to cyclist or pedestrians’.

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The pair added: “We’ve cycled the whole route to see where the major issues in the proposed route lie, and to see how we can change them for the better, for everyone. “We’ve then spent time collating these opinions together and then meeting and putting a clear view on a redesign across to council officers and National Highways.

“Fortunately, a review of ChEmRoute appears to have come at just the right time. The current design was actually created before the Government’s ‘Gear Change’ was introduced, a report providing new cycle route guidelines.

Andrew Kerry-Beddell

“There have also been changes introduced last month in the Highway Code, giving greater priority to cyclists, pedestrians and riders over motor vehicles on our highways.

“All this means that we have been able to suggest and make some important changes to the principles of the overall design of ChEmRoute.

“These include the removal of unpopular shared pedestrian and cycle paths, having continuous cycle paths all the way along the north and south sides of the A259, keeping and extending current cycle lanes for faster more continuous routes, and bringing in safer 20mph zones in sections where the A259 is particularly narrow.”

They point out that back in December county councillors agreed to make it easier to create new 20mph zones and there are plans to introduce them in Chichester, Bosham and other village centres.

Mr Joy and Mr Kerry-Bedell added: “So far, the ChEmRoute redesign principles have been accepted by both WSCC councillors and WSCC highways.

“National Highways officers have also broadly accepted that these proposed changes are required.

“The next stage, in the coming months, is for National Highways to consider a new redesign plan and a budget to go with it. We’re keeping close to resident groups, parishes, Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council, to drive all these essential changes through to fruition.

“We all believe ChEmRoute deserves to be a success. Getting it right will also help all Bourne villages to recapture their identity and sense of place around Chichester Harbour.

“So, whilst we’re not out of the woods yet, we’re committed to finding a better, safer and more direct route through them.”

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