I am writing on behalf of our group in response to comments regarding cycle paths, written by Pauline Cherry in a recent Rodmell and Southease Parish Pump entry in your paper.
I would start by pointing out that there is no legal requirement for cyclists to use the paths to which she refers – according to the Highway Code cyclists have as much right to be on the road as any other user.
With regard to the specific paths she mentions – between the Stanley Turner Ground and Well Green Lane, Kingston – the campaign for this section was instigated by the Kingston Road and Cranedown Residents Association (not by cyclists or cycle groups, though they did support the campaign), and the purpose was to provide a safe route between Lewes and Kingston.
The finished route does exactly this, but is not really practical for those passing through from Newhaven towards Offham – and in fact the design of some of the access points does not allow for this.
There is no benefit to these cyclists when going north in slowing down to make an awkward (and possibly dangerous) turn onto the short section of path down to Spring Barn Farm, only to then have to stop and give way to traffic to cross the road and then, at the other end, to have an awkward exit onto the side road before waiting to cross back over and start off uphill over the bypass bridge.
When coming the other way, descending off the bridge, there is no easy access onto the path at the Stanley Turner Ground, and at Spring Barn Farm there is no point in making a dangerous crossing onto the right hand side, to travel about 100 yards up to the junction, where you then have to wait to get back out across the road to continue your journey – in fact you would probably cause more problems to other road users than if you just went straight up the road.
Where cycle paths, and the access to them, are placed sensibly and go where we want to go, we do use them. But where it is more practical or more sensible to stay on the road we will, and are legally entitled to do so. I am uncertain what other cycle paths in the area Ms Cherry is referring to. Our members and many others regularly use the Ouse Estuary Path between Newhaven and Seaford, and also Route 90 alongside the A27.
At present there is no safe route between Newhaven and Lewes – those sections of the Egret’s Way that have been completed do not link up in any sensible way, and one section north of Southease still remains “un-surfaced at the request of the landowner”, making it totally unusable by anyone on a road bike or those with pushchairs or ordinary wheelchairs.
The section that has just been completed between Dean’s Farm and Southease Bridge is very nice, but does not really take you anywhere, leaving you with a choice of either the extremely busy and dangerous A26 up to Beddingham, or of having to climb the steep hill back up to rejoin the C7.
Whether we will ever have a complete route will depend on whether they can get agreement from landowners for the other sections of the route. We have pressed the Highways Agency regarding putting in a cycle path from Itford Farm to Beddingham, thus linking up with the A27 path and providing a safe route South to the Youth Hostel and the South Downs Way, but so far have not had a very positive response.
As far as cyclists riding in the wrong direction along Friars Walk, I can only say that we would never do this and would not advocate anyone else doing this.
East Sussex Cyclists’ Touring Club
Fullwood Avenue, Newhaven