Coming soon: a summit for sorting out Eastbourne’s transport issues

Eastbourne ECO Action Network (EEAN) is organising a SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT & ACTIVE TRAVEL SUMMIT at the Welcome Building, Eastbourne on Friday 17th November 2023. It will be a follow-up to the successful Sustainable Business & Solar Summit last year, which brought together solar and renewable energy experts, manufacturers, installers, landlords and financiers to explore ways of expanding solar power in the UK’s sunniest town.


  Why Transport? Our transportation systems, dependent as they are on vehicles running on imported fossil fuels, are a highly significant component of ongoing damage to the earth’s life-support systems. A wealth of evidence suggests that current levels of road transport also undermine people’s health and well-being through pollution, congestion, collisions and by eroding social connections. UN Secretary General António Guterres summed up the situation in 2021:
“Transport is fundamental to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. We are already close to the 1.5°C upper limit agreed in Paris. The door is closing for action on climate, nature and pollution. We must act together, smartly, and quickly, to make the next nine years count. Transport, which accounts for more than one quarter of global greenhouse gases, is key to getting on track. We must decarbonize all means of transport in order to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 globally. We know how to make this happen. First, we must accelerate the decarbonization of the entire transport sector.”
Here in Eastbourne, the largest town in East Sussex, with more than 100,000 residents, the local authorities have made various commitments. Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) have pledged to achieve a carbon neutral town by 2030 (transport accounts for about a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions). The East Sussex Local Transport Plan runs up to 2026 and seeks to improve sustainable transport, while the Transport Strategy for the South East seeks to refocus its approach from “planning for vehicles” to “planning for people” and “for places”. However, progress has been agonisingly slow. As a report by AECOM put it in 2019 “Eastbourne has experienced a significant increase in highway congestion in recent years. All strategic highway routes to/from Eastbourne are very congested at weekday peak times.” Many recent planning documents talk confidently of a 10% “modal shift” from cars to bus, bicycles and walking. Achieving this would, however, require a massive increase (well over 100%) in cycle and bus use. Last year East Sussex County Council was rated among the poorer performing local transport authorities in England in terms of delivering the government’s objective of ensuring 50% of trips in England’s towns and cities are walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030. The key question is: how can the transport system in and around Eastbourne be made more attractive, efficient and sustainable without undermining the economy and causing undue disruption to locals and visitors? The Sustainable Transport & Active Travel Summit, organised by EEAN, EBC, and Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce, will explore these themes by bringing together a range of expert speakers and exhibitors – from companies running electric buses, to pioneers in cargo-bikes for “last mile” deliveries, designers of cycle infrastructure and leafy public spaces to purveyors of car clubs and solar-powered car-park canopies. There will be panel discussions, video presentations and lots of networking opportunities. The audience will include elected representatives, businesses, community groups, transport planners and local institutions from schools and colleges to the NHS. This blog post was written by Robert McGowan, a director of the Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC. 

Staying safe when cycling

How do you stay safe when cycling?

Riding a bike is a fun way to move your body, get your blood pumping and improve your health. Many of the benefits of cycling include improved circulation, increased lung capacity, healthier heart function, lower blood pressure and more toned muscles. These benefits are great for anyone of any age, but they are especially great to help older people feel younger and achieve better health.

No matter your age, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with cycling, and how you can best overcome these. Here are three safety tips to bear in mind for your next ride.

Take it easy
Although it can be easy to get carried away while you’re busy enjoying the fresh air, it is essential to not push yourself too hard. Begin with routes that are short and not too strenuous – this will help you train your body to get used to the feel of a bike. If you notice any pain while riding, don’t ignore it – just bring your ride to an early finish. Over time you can gradually increase your speed, effort levels and distance. If you are unsure if cycling is for you, check with your doctor for peace of mind.

Consider an electric bike
Electric bikes have become increasingly popular with riders as they allow them to experience longer and more challenging rides without risking an injury. In 2020, there was almost a 50% increase in the number of searches for ‘e-bikes’, whilst between the months of January and October in the same year, one pound in every five spent on bicycles went towards an e-bike. This new technology isn’t just a gimmick – it’s helping lots of people to explore their passion for cycling, whilst minimising some of the risks.

These bikes can be used to take a little of the weight off your feet to make pedaling easier, or you can stop pedaling entirely if you’re completely worn out. They are especially helpful for helping you to scale steep hills without tiring yourself out – perfect for the adventurous

Look after your bike
Make sure you’re using a bike that is in top condition. It’s important to have your bike checked for any malfunctions that could potentially lead to accidents and have an expert assess if the bike is the right fit for your size and shape. It’s recommended to get your bike serviced once or twice a year, to ensure it remains in running condition.

You will also need to consider the way in which you store your bike. Using storage that isn’t fit for purpose can result in your bike becoming damaged, and potentially unsafe to ride. Be sure to keep it out of the elements, and locked away to deter potential thieves.

In summary
Cycling should be a fun, liberating activity, allowing you to explore more of the great outdoors at your own pace. But ignoring the dangers could increase your risk of sustaining a serious injury. Follow these tips to enjoy a safer ride, and be sure to share them with your cycling companions!

Claire Monroe – Consultant | Researcher – Digital Content & Media

Source – The Bike Storage Company

Bigger Better Bus and Cycle schemes ?

Eco-Action Transport Group have always said, that to meet the 2030 carbon target, there needs to be a modal shift away from cars and towards bus and cycling. That means re-allocating space, changing priorities and spending money.

However the Government has threatened, that funding for active travel schemes, would only be provided to councils, who have a good track record of delivering. This has the consequence that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have recently struggled to get funding. One exception is £41M for bus improvements, though the detailed plans will need to be signed off by Department for Transport (DfT).

Recent unsuccessful bids include elements of the “Hailsham to Eastbourne Corridor” along A22/A2270, and pedestrian access in the Eastbourne Town Centre Phase 2A. Likewise the latest Active Travel ‘Covid’ funding allocated ESCC nothing,

For walking and cycling the DfT will only support schemes that comply with design guidance (LTN 1/20). They are not able to support schemes with any of the below elements:-

      • Shared use paths
      • Lack of protection at junctions
      • Cycle tracks in locations where they may not be well-used
      • Poor value for money
      • Not forming part of a coherent wider network

East Sussex County Council have contacted the DfT to discuss their failure to get funds and to get guidance for future bids specifically for cycling and walking schemes.

So what does this mean ? Both East Sussex and Eastbourne Councils believe in consultation and balancing all the various stakeholders. That has meant compromises have had to be made in terms of space allocated to bus and cycle schemes. Campaigners are of the opinion that cycling provision in the town has actually become worse.

If future schemes are to be funded then they need to meet the criteria and as the DfT state ‘Paint on the road is no longer enough‘. The danger is, in order not to upset the car lobby, then nothing will be built. With the projection of 25% more traffic locally by 2039 this can only lead to gridlock at peak times.  Plus an increase in the carbon footprint which  would seriously undermine the delivery of a Carbon Neutral Eastbourne by 2030, as mandated unanimously by all Eastbourne councillors.

Paul Humphreys – Cycle East Sussex