West Sussex County Council is set to remove pop-up cycle lanes just as England enters a new lockdown, arguing that they are no longer needed with traffic volumes having increased.
However, the council also disclosed that many residents had opposed the schemes.
Government-funded, temporary cycleways in Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Shoreham and Worthing are to be removed. The council announced last month that it planned to remove a cycleway in Chichester.
Ministers announced the cash for pop-up cycleways and other measures under the emergency active travel fund in May this year.
The council argued that at this point and when the construction of the cycleways started, the country was just emerging from the first national lockdown.
‘However, since then, the Government has continued to provide additional funding for local public transport and traffic has significantly increased, so the pop-up cycle lanes are no longer needed for their original purpose.’
Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: ‘The schemes fulfilled their main objectives of offering people dedicated space to cycle rather than using public transport, or to leave the car at home and use their bike instead. This was in response to the unique set of circumstances during the first national lockdown, including schools and colleges having been closed for months and vastly-reduced public transport capacity.
‘The extraordinary environment that led to their installation no longer exists even though we are about to enter into a new national lockdown: schools and colleges are open, traffic volumes have increased and, although public transport capacity is not back to pre-March levels, it is significantly improved.’
Mr Elkins said the council remains committed to our long-standing, walking and cycling strategy with all the permanent benefits this will bring for active and sustainable travel
Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, told Transport Network: 'Removing cycleways because car traffic has increased is utterly wrongheaded. It's precisely because of the negative effects of escalating traffic that we need to redouble efforts to encourage walking and cycling by making them safer.
'The alternative - people switching from public transport to cars - will land us with traffic gridlock, higher carbon emissions, worse air pollution, and dangerous streets that put people off walking and cycling.'
The council said the schemes’ impact has been monitored and that feedback showed the majority of responses were opposed to the cycleways, ‘citing increased congestion as a key issue’.
Automatic traffic counters ‘also indicated relatively low usage by cyclists in comparison with other traffic,’ the council said.
Cabinet Member decisions at the council are subject to a call-in process.