Walking and cycling around Rye

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The UK government recently announced that it is on course to miss its self-imposed national walking and cycling targets.

The Department for Transport had set targets to double cycling activity by 2025. The latest figures showed that it is unlikely to meet its 2025 cycling target, as well as failing to meet its walking target with the average distance covered by walkers being exactly the same as 15 years ago.

Part of the reason for the lack of increase in walking and cycling activity has been blamed on patchy investment by national and local governments. This translates to people not feeling safe as they walk and cycle on busy roads. Nearly two thirds of adults told the British Social Attitudes survey earlier this year that they felt it was too dangerous.

Nicole Badstuber, a doctoral researcher in urban transport policy and governance at UCL was recently interviewed by the Financial Times and said: “A big problem for cycle safety is junctions, and they’re the most pressing thing to redesign. If you want to encourage people to cycle, you need to have a whole network for people to use – a few bits don’t encourage take-up.”

I’ve written a number of times on how a large number of roads and junctions in Rye just aren’t safe for walkers and cyclists to use. You can imagine my delight when I visited the Martello Developments recent presentation on the redesign of Rock Channel by local firm RX Architects, which includes a large new arts venue. At the heart of the design was a riverside walk and ribbon park. In fact the whole development is largely car free – people who will be attending an event will need to park in Gibbet Marsh and walk to Rock Channel.

If the Martello Development does get planning consent, one thing the authorities will need to tackle is how people coming from the centre of Rye will cross the busy A259 at the junction of Rock Channel/St Margaret’s Terrace. The nearest pedestrian crossing is by the Kettle o’ Fish roundabout. People new to Rye and attending an event won’t take such a long a detour to cross the A259 – and nor should they be expected to. It’s about time local authorities put walking and cycling above the car and invested more in safer road crossings in and around Rye.

Obviously this is only a small patch of Rye and I would like to see Highways England, East Sussex County Council, Rother District Council and Rye Town Council working together to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the dangerous junctions in Rye and produce an action plan to make walking and cycling safer. But in the meantime I’m heartened to see that Martello Developments have and I hope the local authorities learn from them.

Image Credits: Pixabay.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Kevin McCarthy, for drawing attention to the positive aspects of the proposed development in Rock Channel and the environmental benefits that it may bring. Furthermore, I particularly agree with the concerns expressed about the junction of the A259 with St Margaret’s Terrace. This is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike and something urgently needs to be done about it. As a local resident I try to cross the road here on foot almost every day and it is absolutely lethal. I am fairly nimble on my feet, but I have seen elderly folk, mothers with young children and prams, people with mobility problems and wheelchairs, and assorted tourists who have got lost wandering around Rye trying to cross the road at this point. Once they have run the gauntlet of cars parked across the pavement and cyclists also racing along the pavement because they are too frightened to use the road, they then have to dodge the juggernauts from Lithuania and all of the rest of the assorted traffic. I have found it safer to do this when there is one of the frequent traffic jams rather than when the traffic is flowing as then there is a constant stream of speeding vehicles. If the Rock Channel development is approved it must be on condition that improvements are made to this junction and provision is made for a pedestrian crossing.

  2. Yes indeed we would all like to see improvements for pedestrians and cyclists at a number of dangerous places including a much-needed solution of the dreadful Rye Harbour Road/A259 junction, probably only by installing pedestrian crossings/traffic lights. But recently there is a new hazard added to the speeding traffic in New Winchelsea Road, which apparently according to the Highways Agency cannot be controlled by electronic speed warnings or even signs because the Highway Code is clear about 30mph limits (!). Exceeding a 30 mph speed limit carries a minimum £100 fine and 3 penalty points, perhaps disqualification. I reckon the fines from an average Sunday would pay the salary of a community policeman. The new problem is cyclists on the pavement, often riding quickly and often not giving way to pedestrians. I do not need to describe the horror at being confronted by a cyclist tearing round the Rye Harbour Road corner, hidden from view by the vegetation, and showing no concern for pedestrians. So, slow down the traffic to make it safer for cyclists to use the road, maybe CCTV would help, and catch and fine motorists and cyclists who break the law and one day no doubt will seriously injure a pedestrian. This is not rocket science but none of our myriad authorities seem willing to tackle it together.

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