Bike track – repairs needed

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The overgrown cycle route

The number 2 cycle route that connects Rye with Lydd is in need of repair.

Popular with day trippers and locals, the track is used for leisure, shopping and commuting – particularly valuable on hot summer days when Camber and Rye become turgid with traffic.

The East Sussex portion of the number 2 cycle route has suffered the degradation that is typical if upkeep is not undertaken. Over the years, cyclists, walkers and the weather have all played their part in reducing the path to a rutted and narrowed strip. Circumventing potholes, passing other cyclists via overgrown vegetation and sore wrists have become the standard experience, with bicycles and components also succumbing to the ruts and bumps.

In contrast the Kent section of the track has recently been resurfaced with a wide bed of tarmac, and there is regular mowing and strimming of the verges to keep the vegetation from reclaiming the track.

Stephen Blattman, who is a member of the Rye based cycle group Rye Wheelers describes the condition of the East Sussex route as unsuitable for road and hybrid bikes.

“The Rye Wheelers is primarily a road cycling club and only a few members use it [the track] due to the condition. Some, including myself, use it for safety reasons but with trepidation as we are likely to get a puncture”.

Speaking with cyclists in the area, many opt to use the adjacent road as they now feel it is safer then using the path, despite a cyclist recently snapping his bicycle frame on a pothole near the Jurys Gap corner on Lydd Road.

So who is responsible for the path’s maintenance? Some look to those who built it – Bath based charity Sustrans. The name is a compounding of sustainable and transport, and they look to encourage healthier and greener transport by encouraging individuals to get out of their cars and on their bike, feet, scooter, rollerblades, skateboard, recumbent, or whatever form of self propelled transport takes a person’s fancy. Being a charity, resources are limited, and as such they tend to focus efforts within and between populations hubs for maximum benefit.

Stephen tells me that it is the responsibility East Sussex County Council (ESCC), indeed as stated on the ESCC website.

I contacted the council for further comment, asking them why no maintenance of the path has been carried out since it was built, and what plans are in place to restore the track to a standard that users will again consider safe and usable. I did not receive a response.

As temperatures rise due to human induced climate change, many see cycling as a pragmatic remedy to reducing emissions – the technology is available and reliable, it is affordable, and it brings a host of health benefits to the user. Speaking with individuals over the years, road safety is often the deterring factor that keeps individuals in their cars. Surprisingly, despite the ESCC declaring a climate emergency in 2019, there is no mention in the their follow-up Climate Emergency Action Plan of any intentions to develop infrastructure that encourages greener transport.

ESCC may consider this within the remit of Sustrans. The question is, as taxpayers and voters become ever more concerned with the threat of rising seas and forest fires, is it high time the council demonstrated serious commitment to climate change through tangible investment, beyond puffery and lip service?

If they do, the first example of this could be to repair the East Sussex portion of the Rye to Lydd cycle track.

As Stephen tells me, “The paths need major maintenance which can’t be completed by individuals; it needs a groundwork contractor to repair the surfaces. As council tax payers, we expect ESCC to carry out maintenance”.

Image Credits: Stephen Blattman .

17 COMMENTS

  1. Because it has been neglected, major work is now required. It isn’t just the path itself, but overhanging brambles and other vegetation that are a real problem.
    A Camber resident has litter picked, and cut back the overgrowth for many years, a true unsung hero.
    It now needs to be cut right back, and the path repaired.
    Kent maintain their end very well, but the East Sussex part is left to Frank, and others like him.
    Thank you Frank, for your help over the years.

  2. Thank you for raising these issues.
    Interested readers may like to learn more about the vision for Sussex Greenways, founded by Nick Hanna who was instrumental in designing Hastings Cycle Network.

    There are rich opportunities to improve our access to beautiful country routes for the benefit of all – walkers, those with impaired mobility requiring flat walking surfaces, as well as those using pushchairs, wheelchairs, mobility vehicles and bicycles…

    https://www.sussexgreenways.org

    • Thanks for the link Clarie. Do you know of a similar organisation for Kent? Being a resident of Lydd, the value of a bike track between Lydd ad New romeny is unquestionable. I just wonder how to do it.

  3. It’s all there in one sentence to a letter to ESCC asking when clearance and resurfacing is scheduled to take place.
    ‘I did not receive a response.’

  4. As East Sussex county council are responsible for this rutted and dangerous overgrown cycle path, it would be interesting for our local representative Keith Glazier to give us an update on this dangerous issue, im sure as being our representative, its not beyond him,to update the people who voted for him, as in the past he always seemed to make himself available for a photo shoot.

  5. East and West Sussex councils are both odd about bike tracks. Anecdotally, I understand they prefer a pounded surface because tarmac would not be in keeping with rural character of the areas these paths go through (not seen this logic applied to the A259).

    However…given the popularity of camber and the high levels of demand from people on bikes and walkers making for Camber, even if the ‘rural character’ thing is credible, this particular pathway must qualify for tarmacing and widening. This and the path under the cliffs to the west of Rye both need upgrading.

    I have recently moved away from the area but the poor maintenance of the path compared to what Kent do was always a bugbear, particularly given the high usage at the Rye end. Additionally, a bike hire scheme with pods at Rye and Camber would surely pay for itself and assist tourists.

  6. Cllr Glazier’s response on Twitter is as expected – will RyeNews be following up and asking for a response from Sustrans ?

    • Rye News is a community newspaper run by volunteers and I image would welcome any member of Rye’s community to take this forward with Sustran, and the relevant authorities, and report back to the community via Rye News

  7. It is true that Sustrans acquired this track prior to 2000 I think, and are responsible for maintaining it. I understand that a major upgrade is in the pipeline, according to our local rep David Young. However, Cllr Glazier also told full ESCC council last week that demands to bring forward a zero carbon date were ‘shroud waving’. ‘We’ve been on a journey since 2005 and we have a plan,’ said Glazier. ‘We’ve identified it. It will be delivered’. He then said that he’d met with the Director of Environment who ‘was outlining the issues about carbon reduction in the transport field.’ Dear Keith: you’ve been on a journey for 16 years ‘with a plan’ and someone is still having to ‘outline the issues about carbon reduction in the transport field’ to you? Seriously? We know what the issues are, and so do you, but your council won’t and hasn’t acted. Can Cllr Glazier give us an example – just one example – of a cycle route that ESCC has built in Hastings and Rother in the last 15 years? No? Me neither. Doesn’t look like delivery is a strong point really, does it?

  8. Delivered by ESCC in Hastings and Rother in last 10 years:

    Harbour Road Cycle Route, Rye: between A259 and Rye Harbour.
    Bulverhythe Cycle Route: 2.2km cycle route between Galley Hill, Bexhill and St. Leonards.
    Bexhill link road Greenway

    Supported by (not delivered by) ESCC in last 10 years:

    Hastings seafront cycle route (HBC): between Pelham Place and The Stade
    Bexhill Promenade shared cycling/pedestrian (RDC): between Galley Hill and Richmond Road

    On current ESCC Capital Programme for Local Transport Improvements (in various stages of development, with funding specifically sought and secured through South East Local Enterprise Partnership):

    Alexandra Park Cycle Route, Hastings
    Queensway to Silverhill (western route), Hastings
    Alexandra Park to Conquest Hospital, Hastings
    Bexhill Cycle Network, two routes in development linking principal employment, education and transport hubs (route alignments to be confirmed).

    • Is ESCC going to now neglect them like the cycle paths between Rye and Lydd and Rye to Dumb Woman’s Lane to a point where they are barely usable?

  9. Interesting to read keith Glaziers comments about the Rye harbour cycle path between the harbour and the A259 junction, So when are ESCC going to finish it, and link up to this dangerous junction keith, Once again its cyclists and pedestrians, that daily are at risk at this junction, due to the councils failure tp put all safety first.

  10. 1. Harbour Cycle Road is basically a painted line on the pavement with no engineering measures to make it safe for cyclists – for instance, priority at the junctions with the industrial estate gates. It took the death of a cyclist and years of lobbying by local residents to get even these basic measures introduced, and as we know it ends at a very dangerous junction with the A259 at one end and a line of double parked cars at the other.
    2. Bulverhythe Cycle Route was created thanks to the energetic fund-raising of my members in Hastings Urban Bikes, who won £50m for Sustrans’ Connect2 scheme (of which this formed a part) from the Big Lottery Fund. In recognition of our efforts Sustrans held their annual board meeting in Hastings the following year. ESCC chipped in something, I believe, but they didn’t instigate it.
    3. The Bexhill Link Road Greenway is a fantastic route – in fact, it’s a superhighway. But guess what? It’s not connected to anything at either end, so it’s virtually useless in its present form. What a wasted opportunity to link Crowhurst, Pebsham, Hollington and Sidley with the potential for over 20 miles of traffic-free routes. What were the planners thinking about? Cars, of course.

    So, let’s hope that ESCC’s forward Capital Programme has a better delivery record than the last ten years, because its been pretty dismal. Time is running out, as this week’s IPCC report makes clear.

  11. Nick Hanna makes the great point that it’s organised locals who make the difference. ESCC’s approach to cycling is still in the dark ages and I’d be really interested to know how we can hold them to account – not just at the ballot box but in the years between elections. Where’s the engagement with the community and how can we most effectively petition for change?

  12. Good poins John and Nick,

    A collective of alternative transport enthusiasts to form a pressure group? Lobby through petition. I think you’d get plenty of signatures from Rye, epecially with traffic and noise concerns from summer crowds. Create the voice then spread it through local media outlets.

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