West Sussex County Council to go to court over cycle lane removal

This temporary cycling infrastructure was removed by West Sussex County Council despite being immensely popular.

West Sussex County Council to go to court over cycle lane removal

Cycling UK granted permission for judicial review on removal of Upper Shoreham Road cycle lane

Cycling UK has had its appeal upheld against the High Court decision refusing permission for a judicial review of the removal of a popular cycle lane in Shoreham, West Sussex.

During its short lifetime, the cycle lane on the Upper Shoreham Road was used for more than 30,000 cycle trips, many servicing the five schools along its length. It also featured in in a government publicity video highlighting the community benefits of the new cycle lanes introduced during lockdown in 2020.

As the charity waits for the date of its final hearing, it will now begin asking for donations to support its legal costs via its Cyclists’ Defence Fund. Cycling UK is seeking to set a precedent against councils ignoring governmental statutory guidance to reallocate road space for cycling and walking.

Cyclists' Defence Fund 

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said:

“Cycling UK is delighted the Court of Appeal agreed that the issues raised in this case, especially the requirement for highway authorities to properly consider the government’s statutory guidance, must be fully considered.” 

Cycling UK applied for a judicial review on 25 February 2021 following the decision by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to remove the cycle lane along the A270 Upper Shoreham Road.

In its claim, Cycling UK argued that the council failed to take into account or comply with statutory guidance issued under the Traffic Management Act.

Following an initial refusal in the High Court in May, Cycling UK appealed the decision in June and discovered in September that the Court of Appeal had allowed its appeal. The charity now hopes to have the final hearing before the end of the year.

The charity is challenging WSCC’s decision in this landmark case, as it is increasingly concerned by other councils ignoring government guidance to promote active travel.

“The reallocation of road space to people walking and cycling is a key element of the government’s statutory guidance on active travel,” said Mr Dollimore. “Cycling UK believes West Sussex County Council failed to have regard to or comply with that guidance when making the decision to remove the cycle lane.

This case has implications beyond Shoreham, because if councils can ignore this guidance with impunity, the government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision to get more people walking and cycling will be stuck in first gear.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns

“This case has implications beyond Shoreham, because if councils can ignore this guidance with impunity, the government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision to get more people walking and cycling will be stuck in first gear.

“Councils should not be at liberty to ignore national policy commitments and carry on regardless, prioritising motor traffic at the expense of active travel while paying lip service to their own sustainability, environmental and climate-change commitments.”

Shoreham resident Karen Murphy (48) – mother of two children, Silas Tomlinson (11) and Audrey Tomlinson (8), who attend St Nicolas’ and St Mary's Church of England Primary School – said:

“We used to frequently ride along the cycle lane, often joining another safe route travelling from Shoreham to Steyning, but we haven't since it was removed.

“I’m nervous about travelling along the Upper Shoreham Road without it. I'm not the only one. Parents are still taking their kids to school by bike but sometimes the children have to ride on the pavement as it is no longer safe without visible markings. I don’t understand why the council removed what had swiftly become a valuable community asset, and hope they rethink their position.”

Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund helps fight significant legal cases involving cyclists and cycling, especially those that could set important precedents for the future and could affect the safety of all cyclists.

Cyclists' Defence Fund 

ENDS

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please email publicity@cyclinguk.org or call 07786 320 713

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund helps fight significant legal cases involving cyclists and cycling, especially those that could set important precedents for the future and could affect the safety of all cyclists. https://www.cyclinguk.org/cdf
  3. Governmental statutory guidance on the reallocation of road space for cycling and walking: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

Timeline:

  • 09 May 2020: The Government announced the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) and the legislative measures to support making changes to the road network.
  • 27 May: The Department for Transport (“DfT”) wrote to local authorities giving further details about the EATF, making it clear that the EATF funding was aimed at, and awarded for, schemes which could bring about long-term change and encourage active travel, such as cycling, rather than just focusing on measures responding to Covid-19.
  • 05 June: West Sussex County Council (WSCC) applied for the first tranche of funding available under the EATF.
  • 26 June: WSCC was awarded £781,000 from Tranche 1 of the EATF to allow implementation of seven new and improved pop-up cycle lane schemes, including the cycle lane on Upper Shoreham Road.
  • 21 July: WSCC published its decision to allocate the funds received from the grant to the relevant budgets and to implement the seven schemes.
  • 07 September: Work implementing the cycle lane at Upper Shoreham Road commenced.
  • 25 September: WSCC announced that the work on the cycle lane was completed, although additional works were still being undertaken throughout October.
  • 03 November: Councillor Roger Elkins took the decision to remove all the emergency active travel schemes, including the Upper Shoreham Road cycle lane.
  • 18 November: WSCCs Environment and Scrutiny Committee called in the decision concerning the removal of the Upper Shoreham Road cycle lane, noting that the scheme had exceeded expectations and that it was questionable why a successful scheme should be removed.
  • 25 November: Councillor Elkins confirmed the decision to remove the cycle lane.
  • 11 January 2021: Work commenced to remove the cycle lane, which was undertaken over a period of several days.
  • 25 February: Cycling UK applied for judicial review
  • 26 May: At a hearing in the High Court, Mr Justice Lane refused Cycling UK’s applications for permission to pursue the judicial review.
  • 02 June: Cycling UK appealed Mr Justice Lane’s decision, which was considered in the Court of Appeal.
  • 01 September: Cycling UK discovered its appeal had been allowed

What is the Cyclists' Defence Fund? 

Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund helps fight significant legal cases involving cyclists and cycling, especially those which could set important precedents for the future and could affect the safety of all cyclists.

It is supported by clubs, members and individuals who have all made contributions to help ensure Cycling UK is ready to work on behalf of the wider cycling community when it's really needed, like it is at the moment in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Cyclists' Defence Fund 

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