The West Sussex Cycle Forum have issued this press release calling for West Sussex County Council to act now to make our roads safer.
People want to ride their bikes. The West Sussex Cycle Forum calls for urgent action to keep it that way.
A surge in cycling since the COVID 19 lockdown began has led to a West Sussex-wide campaign group calling for the resulting health and other benefits to be sustained in a two-wheeled revolution when life begins to return to normal.
The West Sussex Cycle Forum (WSCF) believes that the current emergency has provided few benefits, but one of them is the increase in people now cycling on our roads and cycle paths. Clearly, with fewer cars on the roads this has reduced the perceived fear, and the actual risk, of conflict between people on bikes and people in vehicles. Bike shops report record levels of repairs being done on bikes rescued from sheds and garages.
There is an immediate and urgent need to keep people safe as they ride a bike, but still be socially distanced. The WHO recommends cycling as the best way to travel short essential distances and maintain social distancing. At the Government coronavirus briefing on May 6th, the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, included more space for safe cycling in his aims for recovery. Cycling can help relieve the pressure on public transport, and therefore make social distancing easier; but as the lockdown is gently lifted, and public transport is shunned, once again, bike riding will be in conflict with vehicles.
Local authorities can, and must, respond with quick action – pop up cycle lanes, revised on street parking, cycling contraflows, closing certain streets to motorised vehicles.
Forum chair Geoff Farrell said: “The WSCF believes that there is now an unprecedented opportunity to capitalise on the surge in cycling – and we press local authorities in West Sussex to use their new and existing powers to increase road space for cycling and to respond positively to all the surveys that show that people want to cycle more. Our councils must acknowledge that their policies – to reach cycling targets and carbon emissions targets by specific dates – are doomed to failure without radical intervention. Cycling UK, Sustrans and British Cycling are being proactive in this and the WSCF totally supports their actions.
It is within our collective power to address the underlying health issues that are already a cause of premature deaths, and are now contributing to COVID 19 mortality rates. Turning the response to COVID 19 into long-term action to reduce the need to travel by car, to promote active travel, and at the same time improve air quality, will help to take the pressure off the NHS for everyone.”
The WSCF calls on West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to urgently review its policies and respond positively – to satisfy the public’s desire to ride their bikes; to realise the enormous benefits of a healthier populace; to slow down the harmful effects of global warming.
Let’s not go back to a time when people were afraid to ride their bikes!