Brighton cyclists first to benefit from South Downs cycle fund

One of the first off-road cycle routes in the country to benefit from a new cycling fund was officially opened in the South Downs National Park  this week. Stretching 2.5km along Ditchling Road from the centre of Brighton and out into the South Downs National Park the new path has been designed to be shared by cyclists and walkers.

The route is part of a £5 million investment in a network of core cycling routes into and around the South Downs National Park, which includes £3.81 million funding from the Department for Transport’s Cycle Ambition fund as well as support from Local Authorities and other groups.

Andrew Lee, Director of Strategy and Partnerships for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “It’s exciting to see our vision of easy-to-use cycling routes – connecting the communities and landscapes of the National Park with people living in towns and cities – become reality.

“This route, along with the Falmer to Woodingdean route which opened earlier this year, helps more people, of all abilities, to get out and enjoy cycling on the Brighton Downland and making it easier for people who live in the National Park to reach the city and its stations by bike.”

Ian Davey, lead councillor for transport at Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “We are pleased to be supporting this project which aims to increase the accessibility of the South Downs to residents and visitors in the city. Creating safe, easy to use routes on the outskirts of Brighton & Hove will mean that more people will be able to take their bikes up onto the Downs and explore the unique Sussex countryside on our doorstep.”

The South Downs National Park project brings together the National Park Authority and four highway authorities: Brighton & Hove City Council, West Sussex County Council, Hampshire County Council, and East Sussex County Council, to deliver a package of schemes within a two year period. Extensive consultation has also taken place with those who enjoy cycling in and around the National Park.

Other routes currently being developed include:

  • A new cycle route from Barnham, giving access into the South Downs from a gateway station, linking to National Trust land, the South Downs Way National Trail and the nationally important Bignor Roman Villa;
  • A new segregated commuter route in an area of need between Lewes and Ringmer, avoiding hazardous on-road conditions;
  • A major new riverside recreational route – the Egrets Way - between Lewes, Southease and Newhaven, linking the towns, the South Downs Way National Trail, the Youth Hostel and local and mainline rail stations as well as onwards ferry travel to France;
  • Upgrading and extending two major traffic-free routes – the Meon Valley Trail and Centurion Way (Chichester to Singleton), that link population centres and rail gateways with attractions and off-road paths in the National Park. Both of these will in turn enable further extensions into the National Park with follow-on schemes scheduled from 2015;
  • A new section of the Shipwrights Way route to provide recreation and commuter opportunities for residents of the Bordon-Whitehill new urban settlement on former military land, while also completing the last missing link in the overall route;
  • A new path linking a rail gateway and population centre of Petersfield with the major visitor attraction of Queen Elizabeth Country Park, which has 280,000 visitors a year but is currently heavily dependent on car access via the A3;
  • A package of local cycle routes in the market town of Midhurst, centred around the new South Downs Centre.