The needs of walkers should take precedence

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HOW interesting that several bike people replied to the car driver’s letter in last week’s Observer but not to mine, about the walkers’ point of view.

Could we please have a serious discussion on ‘green’ transport that doesn’t involve ridiculous claims like those from your tame GP that cycling is somehow better exercise than walking and that if you can’t walk up a hill you’d be able to ride a bike up it?

Almost all of us are walkers, lots are drivers too, and a fairly small but noisy group also ride bikes (so do I, incidentally).

It is up to Hastings and East Sussex councils to consider above all the interests of the vast majority who walk, and find ways to make our movements easier, safer and more pleasant.

Let’s face it: Hastings and St Leonards is not a good area for cycling. Apart from lots of steep hills which you have to walk up, those same hills and cliffs restrict the number of through routes.

There are also (thank you) a number of pedestrianised streets which limit the traffic routes further. Some (not all) cyclists are invading the pedestrian space and creating a serious nuisance. They are joined by skateboarders, scooter riders and others who are often very careless about other people’s safety.

Both councils need to look at ways to cater for cyclists and playwheelers but not, repeat not, at the expense of walkers - many of whom are disabled or frail, and very vulnerable to collisions.

The councils should be considering the problems of walkers first, and they should start with the main traffic junctions.

Hastings and St Leonards roads have been designed for vehicles, with walkers penned behind long ‘sheep-pen’ barriers which create longer and more tortuous walking routes with congestion and long waits at crossings. Similar sheep-pens have already been removed from junctions at many of the more progressive towns and cities across the country.

My own nomination for a serious pro-walker redesign is much of the seafront, especially between the Breeds Place roundabout and the pier.

There, there are long barriers which are intended to force walkers into a subway which feels distinctly unfriendly and even unsafe – their main effect is to cut off the sea front from the town centre.

Many other councils have replaced subways with street-level crossings, and this should be the way forward for us too.


Milward Road