LETTER: Dismayed by the parish council over cycle lane

I write this as a longstanding resident of Middleton-on -Sea, a car owner and a committed cyclist.

I am dismayed by some aspects of the letter to the Observer from the clerk of Middleton Parish Council and the briefing given to the press.

Firstly, it can be seen as pitting two groups of road users against each other, possibly fomenting animosity between sections of the population who only want safer roads.

Secondly, the straw poll that is cited is meaningless.

Of course it was unanimous; it was held in Middleton and focussed on the most discussed issue in our community.

If a similar poll had been taken at the recent BHF cycling event at Goodwood the result would also have been unanimous.

The cycling and walking path is a vital link in NCN2, providing safe commuting between local communities and the lack of this link has had a negative effect on local and long-distance sustainable transport.

But neither Middleton residents nor the cyclists at Goodwood are representative of road users as a whole.

The assertion that few people will use the new walking and cycling facility is groundless and likely to exacerbate views held about cyclists who have campaigned for this essential link in the cycling network.

Few cyclists are seen on the road now because it is too dangerous.

But look at the cycle path between Bognor and Chichester.

According to official traffic census figures its use has increased hugely in the last ten years, thus enabling cars to be left at home and clean and cheap travel for cyclists.

I have sent to the parish council details of the government’s Cycling and Walking Strategy and WSCC’s own version.

The policies contained in them should inform council decisions on local transport and no means of transport is more local than cycling.

The benefits of cycling for all ages are well and extensively documented, for health, confidence and the environment and local commerce.

However 76 per cent of adults surveyed nationally state that they are too frightened to cycle on main roads.

This multi-purpose path will be transformative for current and future generations.

That is why the Bognor Regis Cycle Forum and local cycling groups applaud the building of the cycling and walking path, also accessible for disabled users, and are dismayed by the assertion that the route lacks value.

As a car owner I share the frustration of the measures taken at Comet Corner.

I have frequently had long waits at this dangerous junction. However, I have eventually been able to access the A259 while, even as an experienced cyclist, I have not dared to cycle along this dangerous road.

The placement of two mini-roundabouts would have ensured that traffic could flow out of Bilsham and Yapton Roads.

I find it a shame that this possibility was not explored.

I cannot comment on the expense of the cycle path as I am neither an engineer nor a planner. But please do not devalue the wonderful sustainable transport facility that is soon to be built for everyone’s benefit, for walkers and cyclists, and for motorists who will all have their dedicated and separate road space.