There was a mixture of positive and negative responses to Hastings council’s approval of a controversial cycle path in Alexandra Park.
East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) proposal for a shared cycle path through the park was given the green light by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) cabinet on Monday (January 4).
Many believe allowing cyclists into the park will be a danger to walkers and children while others think it will encourage cycling and make Hastings ‘greener’.
Cycling group Hastings Urban Bikes (HUB) welcomed the ‘important’ route after 10 years of campaigning for it.
“HUB members and supporters and, indeed anyone who wants to see progress on the long awaited network of urban cycle and walking routes in Hastings for a truly sustainable transport infrastructure, will want to thank HBC for taking a lead to create the first section of this network in 2016,” HUB cycle routes spokesman Ian Sier said.
Mr Sier said the proposed route is ‘perfectly suitable’ for use as a shared path as the walkways are wide and have good visibility.
“The Hastings sea front cycle route from Robertson Street to the Stade and the very popular Bulverhythe Link are good local examples of how shared routes, even in well used locations, can work well based on users respecting each other rights to use of the shared space,” he said.
“The Alexandra Park Cycleway will be a major step forward for the urban Greenway network in Hastings.”
However some residents are concerned that the route will bring unrestricted cycling and anti-social behaviour to the park.
An online petition against the path has been signed by 268 people, as well as a petition sent to the council signed by 63 people.
Many on social media said the council should spend the money on fixing potholes rather than a cycle path.
Jules Thompson wrote: “Stupid idea, dangerous for old folk, children and dog walkers.
“It will become a hangout for disrespectful teenagers on bmx and mountain bikes dropping even more litter.”
Sharon Bourne said on Facebook: “I think this will be very danagous for everyone in the park.”
And Jenna Quantick commented: “This simply isn’t safe. I feel sorry for the little ones who’ll no longer be able to roam about safely.”
Some were more positive about the route like Jane Freund who said dog walkers should not be the priority and green modes of transport should be encouraged.
‘Tim Hastings’ commented on the Observer website: “This is good news, Hastings needs more safe cycle routes for school children, families and less confident cyclists, and this is hopefully a step forward towards a proper Greenway network.
“Almost all other towns I know of have cycling routes through their public parks, well done to Hastings Council for catching up, let’s hope it doesn’t take too long to implement the route.”
And Louis Bedwell said: “People already ride bikes in the park. They aren’t meant to.
“Separate them into a clearly defined route. It won’t be dangerous unless you walk in the cycle path...”
Mr Sier tried to reassure doubters that the route will be safe as there will be ‘suitable’ measures in place.
“I hope that those objectors who have raised concerns about safety will come to recognise that shared routes, for walkers, cyclists and for people with mobility aids, through the town’s green spaces will be both safe and valuable community assets,” he said.
“Suitable safety measures will be put in place and users will learn to respect each other’s rights and well being.”
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