West Sussex County Council Gets It Kind of Right. Accidentally.

Absolutely no space for decent cycling provision here. Oh, no siree…

A little while ago, I wrote this post on the National Cycle Network Route 2 between Worthing & Brighton. More specifically, this point where the approach to a junction opens out to 3 lanes heading westbound into Worthing on a 30mph road, perfect for putting your foot down, sticking your finger up to ‘the man’ (or ‘society’ as I like to call it) and competing in testosterone fuelled gladiatorial combat for the road ahead. This stretch of cycle path runs along a converted pavement (sorry, ‘shared use facility’) and is wide enough to intimidate pedestrians or for two cyclists to pass with enough space for a Kleenex tissue, laid side on, between handlebar ends.

However,  extensive gas main works needed to be carried out recently and something so extraordinary occurred that West Sussex County Council and their private contractors could actually be praised for….well, kind of helping cycling a little bit, albeit on an accidental technicality. Firstly, this is how it looked before…

A Cavalcade of Crap

Anyone on a bicycle would have to negotiate a weird slalom of street furniture before picking up the segregated narrow cycle path along the beach. And here is a close up…

A Close Up of the Cavalcade of Crap

To reiterate, this is a National Cycle Network route. The on-road cycle path terminates in a left turn arrow directing a bicycle rider to cross a shared bit of pavement (coloured red) to then pick up the segregated route into town. The bi-directional seafront path is barely wider than the on-road strip of green paint you can see in the picture above but is always far more pleasant than the road and you get the bonus of a beautiful sea view.

However, when the road works had been completed and the barriers cleared away, just look at what they’d done….

Yes! They had realigned the street furniture to allow easier passage for cyclists (and even pedestrians as cyclists were no longer weaving about and the sight lines had improved)!

Still crap in Global infrastructure terms but Hosanna!!

…and the picture below is looking back towards Brighton, also showing what I meant earlier about the on-road path terminating in a left turn.

Staying with the photo above, what I personally would have done was reduce the carriageway to two lanes (one right turn, one straight ahead), removed the pedestrian refuge and widened the seafront path to not only improve the comfort of cyclists, pedestrians, parents with pushchairs and mobility scooter users (of which there are many in Worthing) but you could even add planting to create a far nicer and sustainable gateway into Worthing. After all, the road is 30mph all the way from Worthing to Brighton.

West Sussex County Council has yet to wake up to the genuine benefits to tourism and local businesses that the bicycle could bring as it remains stuck in a Thatcherite time warp. It provides cycle facilities that constantly look like they were designed as an afterthought or the result of a drunken bet, even despite the highways budget going up this year. That said, I wish to acknowledge that this realignment of street furniture is an improvement however trivial or accidental it may be.

Of course, for every positive action, there’s always a negative reaction, which is why a sculpture was installed right in the middle of the cycle path just round the corner.

Normality is resumed.

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5 responses to “West Sussex County Council Gets It Kind of Right. Accidentally.

  1. It’s not just your local authority who are stuck in a time warp I’m sure. I have just bought a Dutch bike and my son and I have not been in my car since. I do use the “shared” facilities quite a bit, but then they end leaving nowhere to go except the pavement or the road. Signage is non-existent at times, so I don’t know whether I have the right to the pavement or not… Drop kerbs are missing or too steep so it jolts my son out of his seat (and wakes him up!). Also another thing I’ve noticed is junctions with pelican crossings… they take ages to turn to red so I can cross. It’s not a surprise so many cyclists and pedestrians take their chances when crossing. I’m not joking, this morning I was stuck at a crossing for 4 minutes!
    Yes, the council have done the minimum to make it look like they’re appeasing the cyclists, but it’s not good enough really. Yours at least looks like they’re doing something

    • Hello there,
      I am interested to here more with regaards to this cycle route. I have herd there are problems there. I Myself would be interested in a strait plan piece of road off, out of Traffic control.
      Currently starting a research project , involving leasure Tourism.
      Please EMail me – Kitty.Focalor616@googlemail.com
      Kind Regards

  2. That’s certainly an improvement, I wonder if WSCC actually listened to the West Sussex (or Worthing) Cycle Forum members, who’ve been complaining about this slalom for years? Or was is purely by accident? They don’t normally like providing for people on bikes!

    If only they’d accidentally painted the new green over the top of the stop line at the lights, cyclists could have legally carried straight on (perfectly safely, I might add) when heading west even with a red light for cars.

    I don’t understand why a little further east they’ve taken space from a two-lane road to make a decently-wide shared-use footpath, and yet here, where they have five lanes of motor traffic and a cycle lane to use, cyclists are expected to mix with pedestrians on a path that is far too narrow.

    It would also be nice to have a way to go from the cycle path (National Cycle Network 2, no less) north up Western Avenue (to where people live and work) without having to dodge across the traffic lights in the tiny gaps between gollops of traffic. WSCC think that we should dismount and cross the road three times in pedestrian mode, but that’s not convenient, not quick, and not a cycle facility. A dedicated push-button phase for cyclists heading north would be ideal. Nothing new, there were lights like this in Southampton twenty years ago when I was a student there.

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