Throughout April volunteers from Greenpeace Eastbourne Group and local councillors recorded covid-compliant videos celebrating safe cycling, and calling for improvements to local cycling infrastructure. The video can be viewed here: tinyurl.com/Eastbournecycling.
Becky, a local resident, said ‘ We visited our favourite cycling locations and filmed videos there to show our local councillors that we want more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with safer streets, cleaner air and more space to walk and cycle.’
Felicity from the cycle campaigning group ‘Bespoke’ said ‘There are many positive things about Eastbourne, one of them is this magnificent towner art gallery of ours, also the beautiful countryside, the white cliffs and the marvellous coast, Eastbourne itself is full of architectural wonders. One thing we don’t have is a seafront cycle path, we’re the last seaside town along the coast that does not have a connecting cycle path link. There are ten schools that could be linked along the seafront. It would be lovely to have a cycle path, we would all be delighted and it would enable people to travel safely, environmentally, and economically around the town.’
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the government committed £2 billion for councils to roll out new walking and cycling infrastructure like protected cycle paths and traffic calming measures. However, in last November’s Spending Review, the government maintained its commitment to spending £27 billion on new roads, while failing to guarantee any additional money for walking or cycling, or green local public transport. Transport is the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a significant source of toxic air pollution, and building more roads only adds to this problem, encouraging more people to buy cars, and drive more miles.
Our transport system is unfair – people in poorer areas are more likely to die on roads, and the highest levels of air pollution are also experienced in the poorest neighbourhoods. In cities, people of colour are more likely to live near polluted streets and suffer the health impacts of air and noise pollution.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are designated to reduce traffic in certain streets, improve air quality and encourage walking and cycling. A recent study of LTNs in London by the University of Westminster found that among all age, income and ethnic groups, almost 90% of people live on roads that could be part of an LTN. This dispels criticisms that they primarily benefit wealthier, white residents, rather than improving urban areas more broadly.
Creating more space for everyone to be able to walk and cycle safely is crucial for making our transport system fairer. At the moment, men are much more likely to cycle than women, and women of colour in particular are underrepresented among cyclists. This is not the case in cities where cycling has had more support, such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
Councillor Steve Wallis, the Mayor of Eastbourne said ‘I’m joining those campaigning for more cycle provision in the town, sadly Eastbourne has some of the highest pollution levels in the country, and a lot of this is coming from cars and congestions. So, we need to educate and encourage people out of their cars into other means of transport. Cycling will not only help reduce congestion, clean up our air, but it will keep people fit. But people won’t want to cycle if they don’t feel safe, so we need more cycle routes, more cycle lanes, and more places for cycle storage. I welcome this campaign and I wish it the very best of luck. It is long overdue.’
Evie, an Eastbourne Greenpeace volunteer, said ‘Thank you to the councillors and locals who contributed to the video. When covid restrictions have been lifted, we cordially invite Boris Johnson to cycle to Eastbourne and see for himself how additional Government funding for Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods would truly help level-up and support our local community.’
If you would like more information about the Eastbourne Greenpeace local group you can find us on Greenpeace Greenwire, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.