West Sussex County Council ‘drawing up plans’ to boost cycling and walking provision amid pandemic

The county council is currently developing plans to boost cycling and walking provision in West Sussex, to help people socially distance more easily during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cycling in West Sussex
Cycling in West Sussex

It follows the recent announcement that the Government has made £250 million available nationally to help make safe space for walking and cycling.

However the council said it was ‘not yet clear’ how much of that funding will be allocated to West Sussex.

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Campaigners in the area, including the West Sussex Cycling Forum, have called on the council to take ‘quick action’ to make streets safer for cyclists – read more here.

Councillor Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “We are working closely with our district and borough council partners, particularly in respect of town centres and high streets.

“Officers are currently pulling together a list of potential projects from our existing plans, such as the West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy, and suggestions we have been receiving from local organisations.

“We have a number of potential temporary schemes across the county – the next step is to prioritise those projects ready for when we have confirmation on the level of funding from Government.”

He said creating safe cycling provision was very much part of the County Council’s existing transport plans.

It has a target to increase the amount of permanent ‘cyclable infrastructure’ delivered by 15 per cent each year between 2018/19 and 2021/22 – and in both years, the target has been exceeded, he said.

The four-year target is 28.71km, and after two years 22.08km has already been installed.

Current and recent schemes include:

• A 1km-long shared cycleway and walkway built along the south side of Stane Street, Westhampnett

• A 1.2km-long shared cycleway and footway in Ifield Avenue, Crawley, constructed along the north-east side from Ifield Drive junction to the rugby club entrance

• Improvement works to five sections of the Downs Link to provide a new, unbound surface allowing easier access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders all year round

• A new 3km cycle route linking Pagham Nature Reserve with Medmerry Nature Reserve

Over the past 18 months, the council has also been developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans with the South Downs National Park Authority and other partners.

Mr Elkins added: “We understand that people are keen to see improvements made where necessary to our travel network to help ensure people’s safety when they are out and about as lockdown restrictions ease.

“We are already drawing up plans with partners to identify priorities for works to take place and once we have confirmation from Government on how much funding we will receive to facilitate those projects, we will be able to get those works underway.

“In the meantime, I would ask residents to make sure they continue to follow government guidance on lockdown and restrictions.”

Once the council has received confirmation of the funding it will receive, further announcements will be made on where works will take place across the county.

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