All around the country and across Europe shared walking and cycling routes are the norm

From: Ian Sier, Oakfield Road, Hastings

Friday, 8th October 2021, 8:31 am
Cycle lane

I have seen a number of letters appearing in the Hastings Observer over the last few months that are both hostile to cyclists and wholly exaggerate the risks associated with shared paths for active travel on foot and cycle.

It seems that the soon to be constructed cycling and walking route through Alexandra Park, which will be a key section of a Hastings Greenway network, has excited a few reactionary individuals, who are trying to convince others that a designated shared path with safety measures is unsafe.

They seem more interested in a dogmatic portrayal of cyclists as a threat to people on foot than the huge threat of accidents, injury and fatalities to both pedestrians and, more significantly, cyclists that come from speeding and reckless motorists and make the roads far too dangerous for many would be cyclists to use - particularly in Hastings.

The letter from Russell Burrows in the October 1 issue of the Hastings Observer which claims that “cyclists across the country are killing pedestrians at a record rate” makes me wonder what world some of these people live in.

Having lived in towns with more progressive attitudes to encouraging cycling and safe shared routes, I have been taken aback by some of the opposition and views expressed in the Hastings Observer.

Even locally, where there are no safe cycle routes through the town apart from the promenade cycleway, the shared routes that exist in and around Hastings work well and walkers and cyclists respect each other’s rights to use them.

All around the country and across Europe shared walking and cycling routes are the norm, including such routes through most parks, and do not cause any controversy - so what is it about Hastings that brings out so much hostility in what I sincerely hope is a very small but vociferous minority of people?

If we are to provide safe cycle routes to allow children to cycle to school, people to cycle to work or for the obvious health and wellbeing benefits, then the network of walking and cycling routes that have been approved by both Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council after years of consultations, need to be realised.

Also for those of us who accept the need for action to tackle the ever more urgent climate crisis by reducing car use and carbon emissions, providing safe cycle routes is absolutely essential.

The route through Alexandra Park links to a planned route up to the Conquest Hospital and will also help health workers and others to get to the hospital and avoid the endemic congestion and parking problems at the Conquest. It will allow families to cycle together with their children and provides the only safe cycle route option to Silverhill

If the anti cycling letter writers want to see a nearby example of a shared walking and cycling route through a busy park, go and look at the route through Grosvenor Park in Tunbridge Wells that also provides a vital connecting cycle route into the town centre.

I have not heard of any opposition to or issues with this shared route.

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