In the space of two weeks, two meetings will have been hosted by different organisations both looking at different aspects of walking and cycling in and around Rye.
On Monday February 19 Sustrans, commissioned by East Sussex County Council, hosted a stakeholder meeting to get input into the creation of a walking and cycling strategy for Rye and Camber. A week later on March 1, Natural England are consulting on how to improve coastal access along the 33-mile stretch of the East Sussex coast between Eastbourne and Camber, via Rye.
I would plead that both groups give serious attention to the dangerous junction where Harbour Road meets Winchelsea Road. This junction forms part of the National Cycle Network (Route 2) and the proposed Coastal Path but acts more as a barrier to safe cycling and walking.
As a pedestrian walking from Rye out to Rye Harbour or Camber Castle you are thrown off the pavement into the junction because the pavement just disappears. You have nowhere to hide as cars turn down Harbour Road at speed and it just doesn’t feel safe. You are forced to attempt to cross the two lanes to reach the other side while cars on Harbour Road are also impatiently trying to move off at any gap in the traffic and turn right into Winchelsea Road.
It is equally unsettling as a cyclist. Even though the distance from Rye is quite short, cars pick up speed in anticipation of the straight stretch of Winchelsea Road ahead. This usually involves cars closely tailgating you until you can turn down Harbour Road – and that’s when it gets really dangerous because you have to cycle across to the opposite side of the road to the cycle path with a blind bend ahead. You have no way of knowing if traffic is approaching but you daren’t stop in case a speeding car comes up behind you and knocks you over.
As a cyclist, the reverse journey is equally fearful. Turning right from Harbour Road onto Winchelsea Road and you are literally throwing yourself in front of the relentless speeding vehicles because there are so few gaps in the traffic.
A new pedestrian and cyclist-only route would be an ideal, for instance a pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting Rock Channel Quay and Harbour Road over the River Brede, thus avoiding the perilous junction. As a minimum, a short term solution is needed that slows down the traffic. This could be the installation of traffic lights at the junction that would allow pedestrians and cyclists to use it safely.
The health benefits of cycling and walking are well known but it’s the role of local planners at East Sussex County Council to make the environment conducive and to encourage it.
Images from Google Maps