A cycling charity is taking legal action against a council’s decision to scrap a pop-up cycle lane introduced during lockdown.
Cycling UK has submitted an application for judicial review of West Sussex County Council’s decision to remove the cycle lane along Upper Shoreham Road in Shoreham-by-Sea, arguing that it is ‘irrational and unlawful’.
Flo, 10, said: 'I can just cycle to school without having to worry about the traffic.'
It said that at the heart of its challenge is that the council failed to consider the equalities implications of deciding to remove the cycle lane, and in particular did not consider the impact on young people.
The charity highlighted the popularity of the cycle lane for Shoreham’s families and residents and suggested the council had made an 'arbitrary' decision to remove it.
It said that according to an FOI investigation, Cllr Elkins, the council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, never visited the route and that justification for his decision appears to have been based on a small number of complaints about increased congestion, which the charity said were not borne out by data gathered by the council.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: ‘Despite the public’s enthusiasm for having safer routes to walk and cycle along, it is frustrating to see the admirable ambitions of some councils wither away at the first sign of criticism.
‘If councils decide to make baseless knee jerk decisions with no evidence, then they need to realise there will be consequences. They should expect to be challenged, because such arbitrary and irrational decision making cannot be allowed to go unchecked.’
The charity said it is paying for its legal challenge via its Cyclist Defence Fund. It is concerned that the council’s actions could be mirrored by other local authorities ‘under pressure from vocal minorities resistant to improvements in their community’.
It argued that the Upper Shoreham Road bike lane was successful, with more than 30,000 bike trips were made during its short lifetime, and pointed out that it featured in a government publicity video highlighting the community benefits of the new cycle lanes introduced during the pandemic.
A council spokesperson said: ‘WSCC has just been served with legal proceedings in relation to the temporary cycle scheme that was in situ on the Upper Shoreham Road during the autumn/winter 2020/21. We are unable to comment further at this time.’