What chance for the future of cycling in Worthing? And I apologise for riding my bike.

I have written here before that drivers only see what they want to see. They look for gaps and consequently don’t see what is in them: you or me on our bikes.

Last night I witnessed that this myopic approach also extends to hearing (not listening). It seems that most of the local politicians that spoke did not listen to Cllr John Rogers motion on cycling in Worthing but instead only heard what they wanted to.

The subsequent debate and amendment had nothing to do with the motion. The motion basically asked that Worthing Council should promote cycling and to do so it would need to address the safety concerns that most riders have with regard to cycling on Worthing’s roads.

I sat through two tortuous hours of political dirge before Cllr John Rogers finally spoke. His motion is detailed below. The Council then debated the use of helmets and bells and speeding cyclist on the Promenade. I could not believe my ears. Hadn’t they even listened to the motion. Who were they buttering up to? If there was no fear of cycling in Worthing fast riders would not need the Promenade, nor would they need helmets.

Of course idiot cyclist that carve up pedestrians are a serious problem (as are drivers that do the same) but that was not what the motion was about. If we are not careful the whole issue could be lost it political double speak and the Town, as it always seems to, will carry on the same as ever.

Here is how it unfolded so you can contact any of these Councillors and your own just to make sure that they understood the motion.

Cllr Rogers read his motion.

Cllr Mrs Thorpe proposed an amendment saying that we need to consider pedestrians too, not from the point of car danger but from the danger of cyclists. She suggested that cyclists needed to wear helmets and to equip their bikes with bells.

Cllr Yallop talked about the safety of pedestrians with regard to speeding cyclists and thought that we could stencil on the Promenade places where speeding cyclists were seen. He mentioned educating cyclists.

Cllr Rice reminded the Council that cycle lanes were the responsibility of WSCC, he was happy to support the motion and suggested using section 106 money to action the proposals in the motion.

Cllr Roberts, agreed with Cllr Thorpe and even told us about his daughter’s role as cycle mentor to freshers in her London University.

Cllr High supported Cllr Thorpe’s amendment.

Cllr Oakley, a cyclist, said cyclists should use cycle lanes but that they were poor in Worthing and generally in the traffic flow. (The first comment actually related to the proposed motion).

Cllr Cloake supported the proposed motion but agreed with Cllr Thorpe’s amendment but suggested “encouraging” as a better term than educating cyclists.

Mayoress Fisher supported the amendment regarding the educating of cyclist when sharing the paths with pedestrians and suggested using S106 money to help publicise and promote cycling.

The motion was passed unanimously with the amendment

What concerns me is that a genuinely good motion to encourage cycling in the town and highlighting the need to make our roads safer has somehow got turned into an attack on cyclists. Surely the culprit is the driver and road planner who have made our roads so dangerous in the first place.

As a cyclist, and resident, I would like to apologise to the town and its councillors for riding my bike if it is going to cause you to be unable to do anything positive about road safety without having to criticise me first for simply being a rider. It is because you, as councillors feel and act so negatively, that we needed this motion to not only be passed but ACTIONED.

Here is Cllr Rogers motion.

Notice of Motion – Cycling in Worthing

” This Council recognises that cycling is now playing a greater role in Worthing residents’

lives and there has been a substantial increase in cycle movements over the last few

years as a result of people wishing to use more forms of sustainable transport and to

improve their health. Therefore, it wishes to actively encourage even more cycling by

residents and visitors.

The aim is to replace the hundreds of short local car journeys that could easily be cycled

instead, resulting in traffic, air pollution and pressure on parking.

It is recognised that many employees have stated that they would prefer to cycle to work

but do not feel safe to do so at the present time.

This Council agrees that in order to make responsible cycling safer and more pleasurable

the following actions would be helpful:

* cycle lanes to be marked out on all main routes into and out of the town

* an improvement on the network of cycle routes radiating out from the main town centre

* redesigns at problem junctions and roundabouts

* commuter routes to/from all the main line stations to the main work areas

* high volume secure cycle parking at stations and other main areas

* more work to be done with major employers and retailers to promote cycling

This Council therefore requests that West Sussex County Council, acting as the Highway

Authority, takes urgent steps to liaise with stakeholders such as the Worthing Cycle Forum

to discuss ways in which relevant section 106 monies currently held and allocated to cycle

schemes together with future allocated sums can be spent in the ways above in Worthing

in order to improve the cycling experience in the town in line with current Government


In addition, this Council will increase publicity of the cycle routes and facilities that already

exist in the town. ”

Proposed by Councillor John Rogers

Seconded by Councillor Mary Lermitte

10 Comments Add yours

  1. fonant says:

    Quite agree with your analysis and concerns.

    We have to move away from the concept that “cyclists” are a homogeneous group of like-minded people, and realise that every Worthing resident is a potential “cyclist” – all they have to do is ride a bicycle!

    I am saddened that our councillors felt the need to water down this excellent motion with this amendment. At best it could mean more money is wasted on training a few dozen “cyclists” each year, instead of investing in things that would make riding a bicycle so much more attractive and safe for ALL Worthing residents.

    I’m interested to know what sort of “training” they had in mind, and which “cyclists” they propose to train. Do they want to remind cyclists that cycling on the footway is a criminal offence under the Highways Act (for mostly historical reasons dating back to the late 1800’s), a sure-fire way to discourage cycling? Or do they want cyclists to wear high-viz, helmets, and Christmas tree lights, and to always follow BIkeAbility advice to “take the lane” and ride directly in the path of motor vehicles? Or do they want to go down the “cycling is safe, satistically, honest!” route that has failed to persuade anyone in the last 30 years? Do they intend to “train” every Worthing person who rides a bicycle, or just the badly-behaved ones? How will this training be carried out, where, and when?

    But the motion is a good start. Now we need to keep the pressure on, particularly where WSCC are concerned (I’m convinced they actually hate cycling as a concept), and perhaps eventually we’ll start treating bicycles as the amazingly efficient and sustainable transport option that they are.

    1. I’ll be doing my best to encourage chasing up progress with WSCC. At least it is a start.

  2. Lost for words at how quickly this gets turned into an attack on the cyclist. Providing safer/designated routes for cyclists would clearly have the knock on effect of reducing the danger from cyclists for pedestrians.
    The main point of the proposal, to make the cyclist safer, appears to have gone right over the heads of these intelligent people in favour of blaming the cyclist for accidents.
    At least the proposal has gone through, not sure what the amendment actually means, do I need to go and put a bell on my bike?

    1. I was amazed at the Councillors comments, however, on a positive note I think that they genuinely do feel that in a normal town, ordinary people ought to have the right to cycle without fear for their lives. I even detected a feeling that, in a modern town in 2013, cycling ougtht to be considered a “normal” thing to do. Worthing is dragging itself, albeit slowly into the 21st century. Imagine the day that, with the Downs and the sea, Worthing could actually promote itself as a healthy place to live!!!!

  3. Feesty says:

    I recently competed in a Triathlon in Bristol, stayed a couple of nights and loved the cycle friendly atmosphere, with the whole centre closed to motorised traffic on the Sunday. Maybe the councillors can have a chat with the Mayor of Bristol and get a few ideas to bring to Worthing.

    1. Great idea Steve. Why not write to your councillor and suggest that they meet up with the Mayor of Bristol. The more people that continue to write, the better. Bristol is one of the best cycling cities in Britain.

      1. Or, even better meet up with or talk to people who understand what the Dutch and Danes do. We shouldn’t restrict ourselves to the “best in Britain” when there are places closer than Scotland is that are orders of magnitude better for cycling than anywhere in the UK.

        Some highway authorities are waking up to this: Brighton now has a nearly-Dutch segregated cycleway on Old Shoreham Road, and Transport for London are working on proper Dutch-style cycle infrastructure in several parts of London. Here in Worthing we have NCN2 and the Prom, both excellent examples that when you provide motor-traffic-free cycling then ordinary people flock to use it.

        I’m pleased to report that 2013 is yet another record year for cycling on NCN2, with the counter at Brooklands park counting a new record average of 950 bicycles per day for the month of July. The route is used by cyclists of all types and ages, and usage has increased by 15% per year for the last seven years, from an average of 280 bikes per day in 2006 to 610 bikes per day in 2013. 330 new cycle counts per day in seven years – that’s a LOT of cars taken off the A259, and hundreds of people getting more exercise than they used to! If we build it, they will come.

        [In comparison, the “excellent” (according to WSCC) cycle track up the A24 Findon Valley has proved to be a damp squib. The need to Give Way all along it means that it provides no benefits in attractiveness or safety to riding on the pavement as many people do anyway. Counts here have trickled up from 97 in 2010 to a whopping 109 in 2013. Twelve new cycle counts per day after three years! Looking at the times and days, most of those are school children.]

      2. You are right about the A24 route. I live there and it is almost exclusively used by Vale School children going north and Worthing High children going south. It proves the maxim when lives are at stake: Do it right or don’t do it at all.

        The debate is beginning and even articles like Duncan Barkes in the Herald will help as it is so pathetic that it will get the discussion going whichever side of the road safety white line one is on.

  4. There will be a Critical Mass ride in Worthing, join the Face book group for details here at https://www.facebook.com/groups/worthingcriticalmass/
    Think the more who get out on there Bikews to shout out to all is for the better cause!

    1. I hope the majority, if not all, who turn up on bicycles do so in ordinary clothes, so they can be seen to be ordinary people on bicycles and not “cyclists”. We need to show that the ordinary people of Worthing would like to ride their bicycles for transport, and that we aren’t just a bunch of cyclists – a minority group with a bad reputation who can be ignored.

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