Link to Cycle Lewes & Lewes Living Streets newsFollowing East Sussex County Council’s decision not to change access on Lewes High Street to enable social distancing, we asked two local organisations what they think needs to be done to support pedestrian and cyclist-friendly streets in Lewes.

How would you like to see the street layout /permissions in Lewes revised – not just for social distancing during the pandemic but for the long-term benefit of the town?

As Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets, we would like to see:

  • Two-way cycling through the length of the High Street including School Hill to enable this to be part of the National Cycle Route 90 and bring cyclists into the High Street
  • Measures to slow traffic around the town and particularly on the High Street so that drivers keep to the 20 mph speed limit – for instance, use of CCTV/speed cameras on the High Street.
  • Measures to discourage/reduce through traffic on the High Street and create attractive and safe areas for pedestrians and cyclists. This could be achieved with pavement build-outs next to cafés where space could be given over to tables and chairs to make the High Street look and feel welcoming.

How do you respond to criticisms that reducing parking spaces on the High Street will negatively affect traders and shop delivery?

We are happy to retain most of the parking space on the High Street for pick-ups and deliveries. We think few people park on the High Street for any length of time (particularly with the increased charges). We think most people coming to the High Street park in the off-street car parks (8,000 spaces) and walk around or walk from home, or cycle or take public transport.

But we would be keen to work with traders to do a survey to work out how people come into Lewes to shop. Numerous studies looking at the influence of parking on shopping have shown that shopkeepers consistently overestimate the share of their customers coming by car as well as the amount of money they spend. Walkers and cyclists spend more. You can read more here.

Traders in Cliffe rejected the initial plans for its redesign as a pedestrian priority and two-way cycle zone as they thought it would have a negative effect on trade – it didn’t. Cliffe is now one of the busiest and vibrant trading areas in the town. It’s also a desirable place for renting premises.

Lewes streets are very narrow – do they really lend themselves to dedicated cycle lanes?

There are a few streets in Lewes that could accommodate cycle lanes, but this may mean some allocation of road space. Some roads from outlying areas like Nevill and from Malling Street/Phoenix Bridge and certainly Little East Street could accommodate them. Encouraging people to cycle in from outlying areas is important to encouraging people to come into Lewes to shop and enjoy the town.

Overall, what we are focusing on is slowing down and reducing traffic on existing streets to make them (including the High Street) feel safer and more enjoyable for cyclists and pedestrians. There is also a need to redesign some of roads and junctions to make them safer for cyclists.

How do we safeguard access for those with mobility issues – bearing in mind that School Hill is pretty steep?

Our proposals would still enable those with blue badges to park on most of the kerbside if they need to. But we also need to accommodate mobility scooters on the (narrow) pavements along with pedestrians. Removing the many “A” boards on the pavements outside shops would help both groups share the pavement and would also help people with sight impairment. Also Brighton and Hove buses have said they would consider a cheap hop-on fare for people who want to catch the bus back up the hill.

A lot of traffic in Lewes is through traffic and delivery vehicles not residential – how do we tackle that?

We should discourage through traffic on the High Street by making it clear that this is a slow option. But we have to recognise that there is a danger of displacement to surrounding streets, at least initially. This already happens with so called “rat runs” such as Bradford Road, the Avenue or along Southover High Street, particularly when there are obstructions on the High Street.

So, we have to look at measures to slow or limit through traffic on these streets too. Or it may be that we need to create an alternative northern by-pass of sorts e.g. Phoenix Causeway, Little East Street (made two-way), West Street (made two-way) and onto the Offham Road.

We want traffic engineers/planners to carry out a study to look at all these options and we are trying to raise money to fund this study. Lewes District Council are looking at options for greater use of e-cargo bikes by businesses and how a ‘consolidation’ centre might work for deliveries in Lewes. We welcome these initiatives.

What else do you think needs to be done to encourage people to leave their cars at home?

Residents who use their cars around town need to recognise that they are contributing to congestion and pollution! Walking and cycling need to be seen as the healthy, attractive, sociable means of getting around the town. For healthy people there is rarely a need to drive from one part of the town to the other. That is one of the attractions of Lewes.

Possibly we need to make using your car less convenient with barriers on some streets which also enables them to become low-traffic neighbourhoods by cutting out “rat running”. But this needs to be done with the support of local residents and with lots of warning to residents so that people can adjust their behaviour. Learn more about creating low traffic neighbourhoods here.

But there also needs to be alternatives, particularly for people who can’t cycle or walk far. So an attractive, frequent electric bus service that brought people in from the outer lying areas is needed. But this needs to be financially viable – so people would need to use it!

More walking, cycling and use of public transport has to happen if we want a pleasanter and cleaner environment free of air pollution. It will also free up road space for those who really have to drive!




  1. Hanna Evans

    Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN’s) have been introduced and enforced without any consultation in many London Boroughs without strategies in place to support traffic flow in neighbouring areas which often then suffer from additional air pollution. There has also been no investment or provision of alternative/ electric forms of public transport. LTN’s can then cause those who can’t cycle or walk to drive longer, further and create more pollution and traffic problems in neighbouring areas. They can gentrify some areas and ghettoise other less affluent areas – leading to further social alienation of the less affluent. Real solutions, full and honest community consultation and alternative solutions for all road users is vital for a sustainable future for everyone.

    • Juliet Oxborrow

      Hi Hanna – I have invited Cycle Lewes and Lewes Living Streets to respond to your comment. But definitely agree tht community consultation is absolutely vital – regards, Juliet at TTL.

    • Juliet Oxborrow

      Hi Cyndy – I’ve asked Cycle Lewes for their thoughts on this. Sounds like it might be quite straightforward to add the information to an existing town map of Lewes. Regards, Juliet at TTL

    • Sheila O'Sullivan

      In summary, there is more support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods than some of the national press would suggest and perhaps your views too. Many areas in London have been introducing LTN’s with full community support and community consultation over the past few years. And, those residents that originally were not supportive initially – one year on were! I’ve quoted from recent Guardian article below which is a good summary of the benefits and has some references. And, there is blog with further information.
      There may have been some problems with some schemes and they are reports that they are being revised.
      My perception is that, although there may have been reduced central government funding for public transport in London, it still has an amazing transport system for a UK city and that includes electric or hybrid buses.
      Over the past 25 years there has been a 36% increase in motor traffic overall and in some areas in cities and towns a doubling of use of back/quieter roads and streets (London) and an increase in air pollution and associated health consequences, not to mentioned the climate emergency. Many journeys are short journey’s (under 15 mins walk/under 5km). Surveys have shown than many more people would cycle if they felt it was safer. There is insufficient space for this continued growth. Change has to happen, providing more space for walking and cycling would free up space for those that have to drive and for public transport.
      “It is a culture war between those who want to drive wherever they want, whenever they want, at whatever speed they want – compared to the right of everybody else to get around peacefully and effectively,” says Holland [Lambeth Councillor], walking through the Oval scheme. “The truth is most of the people in this area don’t have a car, so driving is just not an option for them. This scheme is just about drivers sharing road space fairly with walkers and cyclists.”

  2. Cyndy Herd

    I am keen to get back to cycling and I am happy with the new cycle provision from
    Kingston to Lewes. However what I find difficult is finding somewhere to leave my bike to go shopping in Lewes. I have asked the tourism shop for a map of the bike parks. There isn’t one. Can someone inspire the council to provide bike parks and what’s more provide a map as to where they are?

    • Juliet Oxborrow

      Hi Cyndy – I’ve asked Cycle Lewes for their thoughts on this. Sounds like it might be quite straightforward to add the information to an existing town map of Lewes. Regards, Juliet at TTL

    • Sheila O'Sullivan

      Hi Cyndy, The Cycle Lewes Map has cycle parking on it, it should be available from the tourist information office. I’ll check supplies next week with them. We agree we need more cycle parking in Lewes, our District Council wants to see more space for parking too. We are all lobbying for more from East Sussex County Council, including covered and secure parking, including some for those living in Lewes who have no space to store bikes. We hope to get some extra bike racks from the Emergency Active Travel Funding in the next few months but we are still waiting for confirmation. We’d also like to see more signage to cycle parking spots, as part of our overall plans for better cycle provision. It would be helpful to know where you think we need more cycle parking spaces. Let us know, send an email to


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