Sunday, 30 July 2017

Say It Out Loud.

We always welcome readers’ contributions on local environmental subjects and none is more topical than the A27 consultation, click for details. We are therefore pleased to print the personal view of the local representative of Sustrans the walking and cycling charity:

Having read the booklet giving a possible solution to the problems of the A27 in our area I thought I should highlight the weakness in the scheme Highways England would like us to approve. High on that list is their failure to provide a sustainable option to the never ending traffic growth. This is responsible for poor air quality, climate change and the demand for safer cycling provision.
So my thoughts here refer mainly to the Benefits and Impacts on pages 21-22. These are important and there are some significant errors and omissions!


The statement that is grabbing the headlines is on page 21 of the booklet under “Long-term traffic demand”:

“The improved junctions do not have sufficient capacity to cater well for peak period traffic in the longer term, due to planned developments and natural growth in population. Local authorities would need to consider measures to reduce long term growth such as traffic restraint policies, improvements to public transport and increased cycling and walking.”

The key point here is that even Highways England is conceding that at some point we have to plan to reduce demand. Of course, the earlier we invest in those measures, the more effective they will be, especially if they are part of some joined-up transport planning, not treating the A27 as if it exists in isolation.

The reaction of MPs and council leaders to demand even more money to be spent on the least sustainable mode of transport to expand the capacity of the roads even further, must be resisted. This only defers the problem, generating even greater car dependency, making it harder to improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, avoid community severance etc. Any such proposals will inevitably split the community because the impacts are that much greater.


The level of benefit [p21] is assessed as neutral – less congestion, but more traffic – with the full scale of impacts to be undertaken at the next stage. This needs to be challenged on two counts:

- Air quality already exceeds safe limits in much of the area around the A27, which is why it is an Air Quality Management Area. The objective is to improve air quality so that it is safe, not to lock it in at unsafe levels. This is what a greater volume of traffic will do, making it harder and more expensive to improve air quality. The impact is therefore significantly adverse, not neutral.

- The West Sussex Transport Plan 2011-2026 identifies that “increased transport movements within [Worthing] Borough are detrimentally affecting air quality, particularly at the AQMA on the A27 and at other sites where NO2 levels are close to being exceeded. The scheme is expected to draw traffic away from other roads, and we need an assessment of the effect at these other sites.


The Climate Change Act (2008) requires a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. In 2013, domestic and international transport accounted for 26% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. And yet this major road scheme has no assessment of the impact of increased volumes of traffic on greenhouse gas emissions.

At best some reduction in congestion might offset increased volumes of traffic. However, as with air quality, this locks in existing levels, making it harder achieve targets to reduce emissions. This is a significant negative impact and it’s omission from the assessment is a climate crime!

SAFETY [Cycling]

The provision for cyclists is to make pavements shared use; with is no continuous priority at side roads; and toucan crossings at major junctions. Note that at Offington Corner, cyclists travelling north-south will have to negotiate no fewer than FIVE separate crossing points [page 11].

This is at odds with the WS Walking & Cycling Strategy, which states:

“A priority ambition is to create a network of high quality segregated inter-community routes that would typically be aimed at cycling. The design of these new routes should be based on an approach that will create high quality segregated paths following major, high speed (40mph and above) corridors that are continuous. The main advantages of such routes are that they:
• Appeal to both faster cyclists and less confident ones
• Avoid conflict with motorised traffic
• Can enable an increase cycling where local demand is high”

Cyclists should be demanding that the scheme delivers infrastructure of this quality on both the A27 AND the A24. The quality of the cycling infrastructure must be good enough to get cyclists off the carriageway, and without conflict with pedestrians. As is already the case on the A259 west of Worthing, if the cycling infrastructure is poor, many cyclists stay on the carriageway. The proportion of accidents involving cyclists rises especially at major junctions that are not designed for cyclists. The impact of this scheme on cycling safety is therefore potentially adverse.