5 July 2013

'Yes' to greener travel on Edward Street

A scheme to give buses, walkers and cyclists greater priority on another key route through Brighton is recommended to go ahead following strong public backing.

The city council has just released the results of a six-week consultation on making Edward Street a ‘Better Bus Area’. The proposal includes shared bus, taxi and cycle lanes, between the Victoria Gardens and Freshfield Road.  Other measures would aim to make walking safer and more pleasant.

A consultation leaflet was delivered to over 9,000 homes and almost 800 businesses in May and June. Some 62 per cent of respondents supported the plan. Most popular aspects were the walking and cycling measures, plus improvements to safety and the local environment.

Around 70 per cent of respondents were local residents, and the remainder had other business in the area or cause to travel through it.

The scheme mirrors one being built in Lewes Road, providing dedicated bus and bike lanes in half of a former dual carriageway.

The council is predicting faster bus journey times and more people switching from cars to walking, cycling and public transport.

Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee Cllr Pete West said: “The proposals should smooth the way for the very large numbers of people travelling to and from big destinations like the new hospital, those generally travelling east -west along this busy corridor, as well as local residents crossing over it to reach areas like St James' Street. It’s crucial we take steps to make more sustainable modes of transport work efficiently on major routes like Edward Street.

“The proposals build on projects such as those at Seven Dials and on the Lewes Road, and will dramatically transform the Edward Street area. These improvements, at a cost of just under £1m mainly secured from central government, reflects our on-going commitment to enhance streets and public spaces across the city.“

In February the council won £3.48m from the government towards a Better Bus Areas project, including Lewes Road, and Eastern Road. Combined with contributions from the council and Brighton & Hove Bus Company, the total pot is £5.82m. Just under £1m of this will be spent on the improvements on Edward Street, with the remainder going to other projects covered by the Better Bus Area scheme. Officials point out the government contribution cannot be spent on other things and would have to be returned if not used.

A report to the committee on July 9 recommends advertising a formal traffic order for the changes, itself bringing more consultation. Depending on the outcome, first works could begin later this year.

The Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee is open to the public and will be held on Tuesday, 9 July at Hove Town Hall, from 4pm. The Better Bus Areas report is Agenda Item no. 16