What would help you get on your bike?
Want to use a bike more in Lewes but don’t feel safe or confident to do so? Cycle Lewes wants the thoughts of current and wannabe cyclists on what needs to happen to make Lewes a less car-centric and more cycle-friendly town, as chair Sheila O’ Sullivan explains
Challenging the dominance of our ‘car culture’ is often taboo. But over the last two years, more and more people are recognising the need to address the ways we move around, not least because of the damage that transport pollution is doing to our health and environment.
So what needs to happen?
As reported by Friends of the Earth, transport is the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gases. Emissions from cars account for more than half of domestic transport emissions, with most of the remainder coming from lorries and vans. Emissions from public transport (rail and bus) account for just 5%.
To put it in pretty obvious terms, we need to ‘decarbonise’ transport to have any chance of reducing our total carbon emissions. Electric vehicles are part of the solution – but they are not the silver bullet that many (including the government) hope. To truly decarbonise we also need to:
- stop building roads
- invest in efficient, cheap and reliable public transport
- invest in and reallocate road space to walking and cycling.
The last of these actions is what Cycle Lewes is, of course, most involved in. The bike is becoming more popular in cities and towns like Lewes, especially for short journeys under 8-10 kilometres. In various government surveys, up to 70% of people say they support greater space for cycling and walking.
The good news is that more and more bikes are seen on our roads to accommodate different mobility needs. Bikes with child seats can carry children to school and cut down on the notorious school gates congestion. Trikes are ideal for those will mobility/balance issues and are often adopted by older cyclists. E-bikes means Lewes’ hills are no longer a problem! Several businesses are providing services with cargo bikes or trailers fitted to their bikes – and Lewes’ own cargo-ebike service, Get Bikery has just launched as reported here.
This is all great news. But to encourage more residents and visitors to use bikes in Lewes, we need to address our whole street infrastructure. We need safer routes and roads and junctions designed for people, not just motor vehicles. There needs to be more on-street cycle parking, more e-charging points for both e-bikes and electric cars, plus secure, covered parking for people that have nowhere to store bikes at home.
What Cycle Lewes is doing
Cycle Lewes principally campaigns for a re-allocation of local transport funding to cycling or shared space infrastructure to make our streets safer for everyone wanting to use a bike: all ages, all abilities and those with mobility issues. As the UK sees an upswell of support for ‘green’ travel, we are looking for new members to join us, get involved in our work and help plan a programme of activities this Spring and Summer.
Share your thoughts
We also want to hear all thoughts as to what would make travelling around town by bike easier, both for those already cycling and those that would like to but don’t.
Would better signage of quiet routes in and around Lewes help, for example? Would working with Dr Bike to organise bike maintenance and cycling training be useful? Or a Cycle Buddies scheme matching up experienced riders with those new to cycling or Lewes? What about a Bike Festival where we can all gather together to share our experiences of all the different types of bikes available, including e-bikes, and trailers. Should Cycle Lewes plan more ‘Bike Register’ events to help deter cycle theft?
Cycle Lewes is already working with Lewes Living Streets on our joint Low Traffic Lewes project. Together with several schools, we are also supporting ‘School Streets’ initiatives to make streets around schools safer and less polluting for our young people who want to be able to walk and cycle to school.
So what more could we be doing and how would you like to get involved? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org