Category Archives: Road safety

Valley Gardens roadworks to cause traffic ‘chaos’

From The Argus

An artist’s impression of the Valley Gardens scheme

Every southbound car entering Brighton’s central avenue will be squeezed into a single lane of traffic this summer. Two years of roadworks to redesign traffic flow and pedestrian access around Valley Gardens will begin as early as June.

The decision to start digging up one of the busiest roads in the city during the tourist season was criticised by tourism experts, traders, residents’ groups, public transport pressure groups, taxi companies and unions. Critics have predicted “chaos” and “gridlock” and raised the spectre of tailbacks radiating far beyond the centre of the city. The council said disruption would be mitigated wherever possible.

Meanwhile the roadworks surrounding the Shelter Hall development at the foot of West Street will not finish this summer as planned but will continue until at least next autumn. That development is now projected to cost twice its original £10 million budget, and the council is working on ways to come up with extra money from its own tight resources as well as from central Government.

On Tuesday 6th February, a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board confirmed work on the £11 million Valley Gardens scheme would begin in June, although yesterday a Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said it “hoped” to start work on the highway “towards the end of summer”.

The first phase of the scheme will include closure of one of the two southbound lanes of traffic on the eastern side of Victoria Gardens from near St Peter’s Church. The Valley Gardens development seeks to open up the several, underused green spaces in the centre of the city from St Peter’s Church down to Old Steine.

At present the route is a one way system with two lanes running north, and two south. Once the redevelopment is complete, private vehicles will be restricted to the east of the gardens, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound. On the west, a much quieter road will carry just buses and taxis, northbound and southbound. Extra crossings, extra cycle lanes, and extensive planting and landscaping will make the area easier to access and enjoy on foot.

Yesterday the council said work and diversions would be well publicised and the main route would only occasionally be subject to complete closure.

Anne Ackord, who runs the Palace Pier and speaks for the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, said: “Summer is never the best time to start any disruption. We need to get people in to the city, and we know parking is a problem as it is, so you don’t want anything to get in the way of the best possible summer. At the pier, we’re doing refurbishment work and maintenance now, because it’s winter and it’s quiet. We wouldn’t schedule anything to start later than Easter, because then you damage business.”

Adam Chinnery, chairman of the Seafront Traders Association, said: “It seems very odd, when we get massive domestic tourism that comes right down that road in the summer. And we don’t get nearly as much during the winter. It would seem a lot better to do this kind of project in the winter.”

Steve Percy, chairman of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “It’s going to be an absolute nightmare. I fail to see why Valley Gardens is going to start at the beginning of the tourist season when in fact it should have been started at the end of the season. That’s just common sense.”

Peter Elvidge, secretary of Brighton Area Buswatch, said: “It’s absolutely not the right time of year. “It’s going to be chaos I imagine. The Valley Gardens scheme is going to narrow the road down to a single lane through the roadworks, which will cause huge traffic jams and that will spread throughout the city.”

John Streeter, of Streamline Taxis, said: “I can see this scheme backfiring big time. There’s going to be major tailbacks coming into the city. Summer weekends are very busy and this will have a major impact.”

GMB union branch secretary Mark Turner said: “That’s not very clever timing really is it? That’s the beginning of the summer season, it’s the most important for the city and we’re going to cause major disruption to traffic. It’ll be bad for local businesses – we’ll be saying ‘come to Brighton and be gridlocked’.”

Not everyone was so negative. Theatre Royal manager John Baldock said: “Whenever you did it it’s going to upset somebody. Anything that can improve the city is a good thing, it’s never going to be painless.”

The scheme – originally a Green idea – has cross-party support so opposition politicians have focused on whether the Labour administration will make it happen efficiently.

Green Party spokesman Councillor Pete West said: “My concern is the Labour administration can’t deliver this competently – their project management is not good.

“Once they’ve started digging up, they need to complete within the shortest timeframe to minimise disruption.” 

Conservative Party spokesman Councillor Lee Wares said: “It is essential the Labour administration carefully co-ordinate the construction phases to avoid interrupting all the events our city holds. With Shelter Hall now over-running by a year it is crucial that Labour don’t take their eye off the ball because if they do, it will be a disaster for the city.”

Labour Councillor Alan Robins, the administration’s lead member for tourism, said: “I knew it was going to start, I didn’t know the start date.”

Later in a council statement he said: “Brighton and Hove attracts up to 11 million visitors a year and our marketing activity already encourages visitors to come by train or use other forms of public transport, where possible, as we know that car travel is a major contributor to congestion and poor air quality.”

The Valley Gardens scheme is expected to take around two years.

Bike rental scheme to launch on 1 September

From The Argus

Brighton’s bike rental scheme will launch on September 1.

A total of 450 bikes will be stationed around the city for the start of the month at 30 docking stations.

A further 20 stations are still to be built.

The scheme, which is officially titled BTN BikeShare, has cost £1.45 million with Brighton and Hove City Council contributing £290,000.

To use the bikes customers will have to sign up via the official app or online – with registration already open.

The bicycles will cost the equivalent of 3p per minute to use, but there is a minimum of £1 per journey, meaning that an hour’s ride on the bike will cost £1.80.

Regular users can also get a year’s subscription for £72. However, this does not allow unlimited cycling and only allows the use of the bikes for one hour every day for the year.

The scheme is being operated by a company called Hourbike.

Owner Tim Caswell, said: “The scheme will be a very positive addition to the city, and has already largely been embraced by the community. We have seen how successful our bike share schemes have been in Reading, Oxford, and Liverpool – and these are cities that don’t have the same green credentials as Brighton and Hove, or the same bike technology.”

Speaking to The Argus, he added: “There’s a real buzz about Brighton and Hove and we are incredibly excited to be launching here”.

The majority of the docking stations are along the seafront, up towards the station and then further out towards the universities.

The bikes, which are designed by Social Bicyles (SoBi), are sponsored by Life Water UK. They feature a locking and GPS system meaning that cyclists will not have to find a docking hub to lock them up.

Among the groups to back the scheme is Coast to Capital.

Chief executive Jonathan Sharrock said: “The scheme will deliver a multitude of environmental and health benefits, create new jobs and provide an excellent green transport option.”

Bike hire scheme to begin in summer

From The Argus

A Smartbike is tried out along Brighton seafront

A Smartbike is tried out along Brighton seafront

Brighton’s Boris Bike-style scheme will be up and running by June.

More than 400 bikes will be located at 50 docking stations across the city.

Bike sharing company Hourbike will run the £1.45 million scheme on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council with charges ranging from £2 per journey.

A day pass will cost £8 and an annual pass, which includes 30 minutes free each day, will be £72.

The scheme is funded with £1.16 million of taxpayer cash courtesy of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) with the council providing £290,000.

Despite the LEP funding, the majority of the start-up costs, the council will become the owners of the scheme, including the bikes and stations.

Hourbike will be responsible for operating the project, including call centres, mechanics, and vans and drivers to relocate and redistribute the bikes. It will also fund any maintenance.

It is thought five jobs will also be created.

The company’s incentive is in advertising on the bikes and revenue from users.

Hourbike will keep charges paid by cyclists up to a threshold, after which profits will be shared with the council.

It is estimated the local authority will make between £20,000 and £25,000 each year.

Hourbike, which has signed a three-year contract with the council, has also unveiled the Brighton bike as the SoBi Smartbike.

The Dutch-style bike comes with seat suspension, basket, front and rear lights and a computer tracker.

The scheme has been welcomed by groups across the city.

Simon Hughes, chairman of Brighton Mitre Cycling Club, said it would encourage users to be responsible on the roads.

He said: “It’s a nice place to cycle. The traffic doesn’t move very fast and it has some good cycle lanes, so it is great for inexperienced cyclists.

“Although people using the bikes will need to be sensible and considerate to pedestrians and other road users.”

It is hoped the scheme will also eliminate around 300,000 car journeys a year, helping reduce congestion and improve air quality.

However, there has been criticism about the proposed locations of the docking stations.

The 50 stations will be based along the seafront and up Lewes Road towards the university campuses.

Click here for the full story.

John Lewis development could spark wider improvements in Brighton

From The Argus

The proposed John Lewis store

The proposed John Lewis store

THE arrival of one of the country’s favourite retailers should be used as a catalyst to improve the city centre’s route to the seafront.

Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) have called for the arrival of John Lewis to spark an overhaul of the Clock Tower junction which would include turning part of West Street into a more pedestrian friendly area.

Group member Chris Todd said he hoped the street could become more like the shared space of New Road and attract a wider range of daytime businesses to the area and boost the local economy.

Under the BHFOE proposals, private vehicles would be stopped from driving north of Churchill Square car park in West Street with just buses and taxis allowed up to the Clock Tower.

Mr Todd said the move would make the area much cleaner and safer with fewer pedestrians making dangerous dashes across the road at the confusing set of lights.

By reducing the amount of traffic coming north from West Street, it is hoped that buses travelling along North Street would have less delays waiting at the Clock Tower lights – currently one of the city’s most polluted junctions.

An uphill cycle lane for North Street to be painted on to the road is also being advocated to coincide with pedestrian improvements already suggested by John Lewis as part of their plans for a new store opening in the next few years.

The retailer is also being encouraged to be innovative in the building design by using low impact materials and green walls and roofs while BHFOE have also raised concerns about the impact of the store’s proposed click and collect service bringing more cars to the heavily congested junction.

Mr Todd said that many of the changes could be achieved at low cost, largely through developer contributions.

He added: “I think New Road has worked fairly well and I really want to see more of that where people are given priority over vehicles. Vehicles don’t spend money, it’s people.

“The system we have at the moment is just not working for people.

“Part of the problem at the moment is that the buses get held up by the traffic lights.

“By allowing buses to run through the lights at the same time without being held up by other traffic, they will run much more efficiently and won’t be sitting around pumping out fumes.

“At the moment you have a handful of private cars at one traffic light holding up buses with tens or hundreds of people on board.”

A John Lewis spokeswoman said: ‘We welcome all feedback from local people during this pre-application consultation period and would like to encourage people to share their views on our proposals with us at”

Three weeks of roadworks to repair Seven Dials roundabout

From Brighton & Hove News








An award-winning new Brighton roundabout which was only installed three years ago is to get three weeks of roadworks to correct defects which have seen its kerbstones crumbling.

The changes to the Seven Dials roundabout courted controversy from the start, with Green activist Tom Druitt, now a councillor, climbing an elm tree for several days to successfully stop it being chopped down as part of the new layout.

Once installed, the roundabout itself won awards – but eagle-eyed residents soon spotted the kerbstones were crumbling after a few months.

Bell shaped bollards were installed to stop lorries and other heavy goods vehicles crossing the central island – and now, the kerbstones will be relaid flush with the tarmac to avoid impact.

Delays should be expected during the works which are scheduled to take place between Thursday, September 15, and Friday October 7. Lane closures, temporary traffic lights and diversions will be in place.

Click here for full story.

Thousands of motorists caught speeding close to schools

From The Argus

615 motorists were caught speeding by this speed camera in Ditchling Road, Brighton.615 motorists were caught speeding by this speed camera in Ditchling Road, Brighton.

Thousands of motorists have been caught speeding outside schools and parks putting children’s lives in danger.

Almost 6,500 drivers have been caught by just four speed cameras in three years in Brighton and Hove.

All the cameras are situated close to schools, parks or other green spaces.

The cameras caught drivers travelling at more than double speed limits with the fastest clocked at 85 mph in a 30 mph zone just yards from the entrance to a school.

Road safety campaigners described the figures as shocking and said they supported calls for more 20 mph zones and higher on-the-spot fines for drivers.

Figures obtained by The Argus show 615 motorists were caught speeding by the speed camera in Ditchling Road which is placed just yards from the entrance to Varndean School and a children’s playground.

The figures relate to the three years up to January 2016.

A further 3,092 drivers were caught speeding by two cameras in Preston Road, close to Preston Park, while 2,746 were caught by a camera in Kingsway in Hove, close to Western Lawns.

Alice Bailey, campaigns advisors for road safety charity Brake, said: “It’s shocking to see so many drivers speeding in areas where there are so many vulnerable road users – many going twice the legal limit.

“Road crashes are a major cause of death and injury among the young with the risk rising as children reach secondary school and drivers must drive safely and with consideration at all times.

“We want more 20mph zones and ultimately call for 20mph to be the default urban speed limit.

“We need traffic enforcement to be made a policing priority, with higher on-the-spot fines providing a real and immediate deterrent to dangerous law-breaking drivers.”

Phil Badman, acting sergeant for Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, said: “Inevitably the deterrent does come down to means.

“If you are not working and fined £100, then you might be more reluctant to speed than if you are a millionaire and a £100 fine is an insignificant amount.

“We do try and direct as many people as we can to our driver courses because part of the process is not just to fine motorists but also educate them.

“We want drivers to show road awareness where circumstances should affect how they think about their driving.”

Viaduct Road plantpots could be replaced by communal bins

From Brighton & Hove News

Controversial plantpot chicanes placed in Viaduct Road have been declared a success and will now pave the way for a permanent traffic calming scheme –  which could replace them with communal bins.

Viaduct Road pic

The big black plant pots, rescued after they were taken away from the front of the Duke of York’s to create a mini-square, were placed in the road in February, to the consternation of many motorists.

But in just the first week, speeds in the 20mph road dropped from an average of above 40mph to 23.5mph – and now the planters have had a chance to be monitored over several months, a permanent scheme is on the way.

And at the request of residents, it could make space for communal bins by providing build-outs in the road – which would also help solve the problem of wheelie bins being left on the narrow pavements.

A council spokesperson said: “The temporary planter chicane scheme in Viaduct Road has been successful and traffic speeds have significantly reduced.

“We are now in the process of designing a permanent scheme which could also incorporate communal bins which have been requested by residents.”

The trial followed requests from the London Road Local Action Team, which approached the council about ways to spruce up the whole road.

A request to house owners to freshen up their paintwork prompted two landlords to commission renowned Brighton graffiti artist AroeMSK to paint two murals across four houses.