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 .