Community groups Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets have drawn up a project proposal to reduce traffic in central Lewes. Download the full proposal – and let us know what you think.
Cycle Lewes (CL) and Lewes Living Streets (LLS) have been working together for a number of years, sharing a vision for a town that supports walking and cycling, reduces through traffic, and enables people to use their cars less. Now they’ve published their initial proposal for a project to help make Lewes a ‘low traffic town’.
Low traffic neighbourhoods
So what does that mean? Sustainable transport charity Sustrans defines a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ (LTN) as a scheme where motor vehicle traffic in residential streets is greatly reduced by minimising vehicles using the streets to get to another destination while still giving private vehicles easy access to homes and businesses without driving directly through the neighbourhood. This, says Sustrans, opens up networks of streets so people can safely travel on foot, bicycle, by wheeling or by bus.
The CL-LLS project proposal for Lewes is ambitious in that it aims not simply to tackle purely residential streets but to create low traffic solutions for Lewes High Street itself. The proposals are still at an early stage – and are seeking the bulk of the £22,400 funding required to determine and draw up ‘shovel ready’ traffic/transport solutions for Lewes High Street.
Surveying shopping and traffic habits
Once funding is in place, the first step, say CL-LLS, will be a shopping survey to understand how people get to the High Street (car, bus, walk, bus, train etc), how frequently they come and how much they spend. And if they come by car, where do they park.
Alongside this, a traffic survey is also planned. This would look to understand motor traffic movements through Lewes High Street. Where is it coming in and going out? How much is ‘through traffic’ (not stopping) and could be diverted from the town?
Engaging everyone in Lewes
Alongside bringing in outside experts, CL-LLS say they are keen to use people with expertise within the town in planning, highway design and with knowledge of good practice elsewhere. And, of course, community engagement is key: CL-LLS aim to involve as many residents, businesses and organisations across town as possible to explore options and agree on solutions.
Transition Town Lewes has been invited onto the advisory board for the project. We think the project offers a promising opportunity to tackle the heavy traffic that (especially in non-Covid 19 times) has become a characteristic of our town. But we’re keen to keep TTL supporters involved and know what you think.
Download the full initial proposal here: Our Project for Low Traffic Lewes – and give your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ below.
I am very supportive of this initiative of course. However, in the document it says “……even the most distant house is not much more than a mile from the centre” . I live in the Nevill estate – about 1.5 miles from the centre and up a long, steep hill. There is no way i could get my shopping using only public transport and certainly could not walk. Access by my (fully electric) car is crucial for me. I think the way its written softens the challenges for residents on the outskirts of town if car parking options were not available. Perhaps you should consider residents-only parking and favourable spaces for electric vehicles.
Hi Elaine – we’ll pass on your comments to Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets
This project focuses on Lewes High Street, removing/discouraging through traffic and slowing the rest but accepting that some vehicle access for deliveries, pick ups and access for the disabled and even some parking will remain.
We want to make the High Street more attractive for people/shoppers/visitors by giving them more space and priority over vehicles (including electric cars)
We also want to see improved conditions for those walking and cycling and taking the bus to and from outer-lying areas of Lewes like Nevill to encourage people to use these healthier active travel options. Ideas welcomed as to how to do this. But that will be another project!
Kevin Moore, Lewes Living Streets
I have lived in central Lewes for over 30 years and have struggled with traffic problems along High Street School Hill and near-by streets all that time. Given the lay-out of the town and the central position and function of High Street, I cannot see what can be done about improving it by trying to alter incrementally some of its features. Pavements cannot be widened, the streets cannot be freed of “essential” through traffic buses and lorries and there is no room for cycle lanes or pedestrians – including the disabled for whom the pavements resemble an obstacle race-track . So the options for incremental improvements are very limited.
What is really needed is a fundamental rethink of Lewes’s overall problems. One of the “not impossible” options might be to ban all motorised traffic within a carefully defined inner town with access only facilities for a strictly controlled and rigidly enforced small number of vehicles. This would necessitate building strategically located car parks (for example multistory facilities at the Rly Station and a new bus station) with access to the upper reaches of the town via escalators or regular small minibus/mini-rail facilities.
Expensive? Of course, but this is the sort of solution they have adopted in Perugia – a hilly and historic town like Lewes in Italy. Similar tailor made solutions have also been adopted in a number of Dutch, Belgian and German towns. What constrains us in Lewes is the lack of imagination and financial/political clout plus risk-taking abilities.
Great thoughts, Jayanta – we’ll pass them on to Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets.
Let’s get the street designers in to see what can be done to make the High Street more friendly for people to walk, cycle, shop and chat. East Sussex County Council are not going to accept a radical solution (let alone pay for it!) but we can come up with something that is much better than what we have now.