New cycle lanes

Published: 28 September 2020

The press release below has been issued by the Bournes Forum ChEm Route Consultation Working Group.

Chemroute New Cycle Lanes Chichester to Emsworth

Plans are underway for new cycle lanes running all the way from Emsworth to Chichester and a feasibility study has been commissioned by Highways England. It is understood that £4.5m of funding has been put aside for this scheme.

This route has an appalling record for cycling accidents: Between 2013 and 2018, 40% of all vehicle accidents involved cyclists (mainly bikes being hit by cars) and yet traffic flow data shows that cyclists only account for 2% of journeys. For many people it has become too dangerous to cycle so new, safe, continuous cycle lanes are long overdue.

The Highways England scheme is for a 2.5m to 3.5m wide shared path running most of the way from Emsworth to Chichester. This is a shared two-way cycle lane and footpath. The plans have received considerable opposition from local residents due to the conflict of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the same space.

Indeed, the recent publication by the government of new cycle infrastructure guidelines has forced Highways England to rethink the design as it fails to meet these guidelines: "On urban streets physically separate cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists must be treated as vehicles." 8.3km of the route is urban (defined as a carriageway directly bordered by properties on at least one side of the road) and 2.95km is rural. In urban areas, paths that are shared by cyclists and pedestrians are ruled out by the government and will not be funded. Highways England has agreed to work with local stakeholders to review the plans in line with the latest guidelines.

Meanwhile the Chichester and District Cycle Forum have been working with the Bournes Forum Working Group to come up with an alternative proposal. The Bournes Group represents the parish councils along the route. The proposal is to have smooth continuous lightly segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the road running all the way from the Cross in Chichester to the A27 underpass to the West of Emsworth. Where the road is narrow, four 20mph traffic calmed zones would be set up in Hermitage, Southbourne, Nutbourne and Fishbourne. There would always be a separate pavement for pedestrians in built up areas. Even in the pinch points, cycle lanes would continue straight on, on both sides of the road and be marked as separate from the footpath.

LTN2/20 (the government guildelines on cycle infrastructure) is acknowledged as a game-changer. Our ambition is for a safe, continuous segregated cycle route in both directions between Emsworth and Chichester. 

With careful research, design and consideration of the wider context of the A259, this project can deliver a series of revitalised village centres, providing far more than an enhanced cycle track. It is understood that Highways England is operating within a limited budget but the project should not be constrained by lack of funds. It is recommended that all efforts are made to identify additional funding sources to broaden the scope of the project. 

The situation around the scheme is complex with several types of road user and stakeholders. A full and transparent consultation with the public is required. Chichester & District Cycle Forum and the Bournes Forum Working Group must be an integral part of that consultation process.

This proposal is designed to be a foundation for future communication and cooperation with Highways England. The local residents, parish councils, cyclists (and those who would cycle if it was perceived to be safer) and pedestrians who live, work and commute along the A259, look forward to working together with Highways England, West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council for the benefit of the whole community.

Chichester and District Cycle Forum and Bournes Forum Working Group.