Low Traffic Lewes – the survey findings

As part of its work to make central Lewes more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, Low Traffic Lewes has released the findings of two surveys – showing what possible changes are supported by the town – and how much daily traffic never stops in Lewes at all, as Kevin Moore explains.

For the last 70 years, the places where we live have been planned around the needs of motor vehicles to the detriment of people. Low Traffic Lewes, a project led by Lewes Living Streets and Cycle Lewes, aims to help reverse this in Lewes.

Specifically, Low Traffic Lewes plans to bring pedestrians and cyclists back onto School Hill and the High Street. The work involves conducting surveys, design work and public engagement events to come up with a costed redesign to present to East Sussex County Council.

Two important surveys have now been completed. One is a survey of visitors, businesses and residents. The other is a survey of through traffic on the High Street. Both were backed and funded by Lewes Town Council.


Key headlines emerging from the surveys are:

  • 2,000 vehicles drive straight in School Hill/High Street each 24-hour period
  • Visitors and residents overwhelmingly support many or most changes proposed in the surveys
  • Residents spend more money in town cumulatively than non-residents.


Support for suggested changes

When asked about possible changes to make School Hill and the High Street more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, there was overwhelming support from both visitors and businesses for the following:

  • More planting
  • More bench seating
  • Hop-on, hop-off bus
  • Wider pavements
  • Reduced vehicle traffic
  • More tables and chairs outside cafés
  • More cycle parking
  • Slower traffic speeds
  • More pedestrian crossings

Other proposals got support from visitors but not from businesses. These were:

  • Taking out some on-street parking (to accommodate the above)
  • Measures to reduce through-traffic and
  • A cycle lane down School Hill.


Outright ban on through traffic

An outright ban on through-traffic was rejected (narrowly) by visitors and by businesses but got support in a survey of residents.

See here for a link to a presentation on the visitors, businesses and residents survey results.


Measuring through traffic on the High Street

The second survey used cameras to establish the number of vehicles driving straight through the High Street. The results showed that around 50% of vehicles on the High Street were driving straight through town. That’s around 2,000 vehicles every 24 hours! That’s plenty of vehicles that could be diverted via the A27 and Cuilfail tunnel.

See here for a link to a presentation on the through-traffic survey results.


Next steps

The next step is to share and discuss these results across the town, look at the issues they present and potential redesigns for sections of the High Street.

The project has commissioned Urban Movement (traffic planners, engineers and urban designers) to advise on possible options. They have warned, however, that although the High Street used to be a two-lane major road before the A27 was built, much of the space released has been taken up with on-street parking and that some of this will need to go to create the changes that residents and visitors want. So there are plenty more discussions to be had with residents, businesses and other stakeholders to ensure we end up with a low-traffic solution that’s right for everyone.

For further details of the Low Traffic Lewes Project, our crowdfunding page and how you can get involved, visit the Cycle Lewes webpage here.



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