Brighton Bricycles on Kingsway in Hove Cycle Route

A curious thing happened when I started blogging and tweeting about making the streets of Brighton and Hove safer for cyclists.

People seemed to think I was a cyclist. They started telling me technical things about equipment and different gear systems. “Sarah is a cyclist,” said a friend as a man in lycra described a difficult ride he’d been on.

But the thing is, I’m not a cyclist. I’m sure it’s a wonderful sport, but I personally have no interest in it. I’ve never worn lycra and I’m not sure what those clippy things on the pedals are for. I can’t think of anything worse than driving up a huge hill on a country road and a 10 mile round trip is quite an accomplishment. I love my e-bike and know it’s belt driven rather than chain but that’s where my technical knowledge ends. For me, cycling is not a sport, but a means of getting from A to B. I use my bike if the distance is only a mile or two because it’s the right tool for the job.

I have a mild neurological condition that makes walking tiring. On the bike I enjoy the world around me and stay healthy at the same time. I use my bike to ride the kids around. We get to our destination quickly and don’t have to pay for parking. I use my bike when I’m just running errands because I don’t need my large family car for one person. I use my bike when I’ve been at my desk too long or when life feels difficult to feel the wind on my face, smell the sea and have a coffee.

I don’t like driving on busy roads, weaving through traffic jams, or tackling a hill with a truck behind me. I would never drive 60 mph on a road, and a car passing at 30 mph can feel scary if it’s too close.

I wouldn’t drive around a big roundabout or at a busy intersection because I just don’t feel safe. I want to get from A to B easily and safely, with the right tool for the job at hand. I know many people who would like to ride a bike if only they felt safe.

The key lies in a network of well-designed, protected cycle paths that get people where they need to go. Cyclists must be separated from traffic and pedestrians must have their own space. I want to feel safe when I’m on the road, so I volunteer with Bricycles, which works to create safer roads for cycling.

I am delighted that the westbound extension of the cycle path along the Kingsway in Hove will begin in January. This means cyclists can get straight from Fourth Avenue to Hove Lagoon along the road without having to detour past the King Alfred Leisure Centre. The sidewalks at the shops will be widened and more handicapped parking spaces will be created. Crossings along the entire route will be safer for pedestrians and easier for people with disabilities and strollers to cross. The current bike path will be expanded in one direction, making walking on the sidewalk safer. The Kingsway improvements may be just another mile of protected space for people on bikes, and there is still much work to be done for Bricycles to champion.

But every kilometer of cycle infrastructure brings us closer to a truly accessible and safe cycle network for Brighton and Hove. At some point other non-cyclists like me will also be able to ride their bikes.

Sarah Forbes

bikes Brighton Bricycles on Kingsway in Hove Cycle Route

Fry Electronics Team

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