Derrick Coffee, County Officer for Transport Futures East Sussex, has written an open letter to Eastbourne Herald, explaining the dangers of ignoring Eastbourne’s developing transport crisis – and what we can do to fix it.
Lots of transport issues and some opportunities are discussed in your edition of 20th August. These topics included the Bus Service Improvement Plan, five proposed cycle routes, ‘paid for parking’, and £250,000 funding for ‘traffic signal controlled junctions’.
With the transport sector being the largest emitter of carbon in the UK, and the international Climate Change ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP26) only weeks away, all of the topics mentioned should have a part to play in securing measures to bring UK carbon emissions down. If successful, the biggest winners will be all children – and babies born after any successful commitments coming out of the COP26 gathering: but, we’ll all be winners!
Planning for Better Buses
First, the buses. The Government’s own advisers warn against the simple notion that swapping petrol and diesel for electric vehicles is the answer. Congestion, casualties, sprawling ‘land hungry’ car based developments, ugly streets, habitat destruction and unhealthy inactive lifestyles would continue. Eastbourne and Wealden councils should collaborate on creating more forward-thinking solutions.
Competition between richer nations for precious resources in vehicle and battery manufacture will cause conflict and environmental degradation. The answers have to include shared transport, active travel and efficient and well designed urban development. (Current developments don’t have those characteristics!).
Shared transport means buses, trains and car clubs. The BSIP should include a whole range of incentives to increase bus usage including expanded services and new routes. Above all, the buses need priority measures such as bus lanes to speed up services and beat congestion. These already remove thousands of cars daily from the A259 through Peacehaven.
Transport Futures: Safe Cycle Routes
Cycle routes – yes please. But these must be measured against their ability to allow children to cycle to school and for the rest of us to access our daily needs. The 5 routes will help but more routes are needed with default 20mph limits in residential areas and on some sections of main roads.
However, without speed restrictions, parents will not allow their children to cycle. Frequent poor and threatening driving styles depress levels of cycling and walking, and must be eliminated. Acoustic cameras should be installed to remove aggressive and illegally loud vehicles. Furthermore, walking routes are also crucial and flared junctions should be narrowed, roundabouts redesigned to reduce entry/exit speeds, and pedestrian/cycle priority across junctions in residential areas should be adopted town wide.
The Real Cost of Free Parking in the Transport Debate
Parking? Too much cheap or free parking causes congestion and makes all other more sustainable forms of transport unpleasant or inefficient. Politicians love to promise freedom to park anywhere for free but they all know it will lead to gridlock. It’s not a very inefficient use of the precious resource: land. No-one wants more traffic. The £250,000 for ‘signal controlled junctions’ could be used to speed up the buses and to give pedestrians and cyclists priority. Prioritising sustainable transport locally is also shown to reduce longer car journeys, reducing the need for damaging road projects such as an off-line A27.
Leaders at all levels of government should be loudly proclaiming support for the objectives of COP26 (reducing carbon emissions; restoring habitats and increasing biodiversity) and measures to deliver them. The Herald could publish articles featuring transport and planning proposals and rate them out of 10 for eco friendliness!
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County Officer, Transport Futures East Sussex
Images: PA Media & Pxhere