A recent survey of Seaford prom users showed a huge majority in favour of allowing cycling, but the proposal to allow cycling on Seaford prom has met with a predictable response from the minority. As expected we have heard from scaremongers who predict something akin to mass murder by speeding cyclists charging into children and the elderly. The assumption is that a cyclist will come off better or unscathed in a collision, in fact the opposite is more likely. A cyclist is perched high on a bike, and loss of balance is something to avoid. Dedicated cycle lanes allow riders the freedom to travel at speed, whether it is for cycling to work, school, shops, or for leisure. But Seaford’s plan is to allow ‘shared use’, meaning cycles, scooters, disabled, dogs and pedestrians will be able to use, share and enjoy the wide expanse of the path along part of Seaford Seafront. Faster cyclists won’t be interested in negotiating a busy path, so will either walk their bikes or take the risk on the treacherous road and deal with car drivers speeding, pulling out or opening doors without looking. Cyclist deaths by collision with cars is a very sad fact, but pedestrian incidents from cyclists are extremely rare, most of these coming from collisions in the road. A similar ‘shared use’ scheme has been put in place on the under cliff between Saltdean and Brighton Marina. There are no dedicated lanes so there are no inferred rights: peace and tranquillity have endured. There will always be exceptions and some people will act irresponsibly whether cycling is allowed or not – just look at a large proportion of poor car drivers on our already highly regulated, busy and dangerous roads – but these will certainly be the minority and should be dealt with accordingly.
Cycling is good for everybody, directly or indirectly. It combats type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Two recent reports by NHS and NICE show that active travel should be designated a ‘wonder drug’ due to the huge saving that can be made from reduced need for healthcare. Cycling is also good for the environment, massively reducing congestion and emissions. There is less impact on the joints than in other sports, so retired runners and the less able can enjoy getting about.With sections of the Egrets Way (Newhaven to Lewes ‘shared use’ path following the river http://egretsway.org.uk) being completed or underway, we can look forward to a continuous cycle route into Lewes. Seaford residents of all ages and ability will soon be able to cycle somewhere safe, or teach their kids to ride, without having to drive to somewhere first. Congratulations to Seaford Town Council and East Sussex County Council for considering this proposal.