Car Free Day

Car Free Day is an international day that has been around for many years – it has long been a dream of mine to make this a focus for health and activity and clean air in Chichester. As a by-product I hope this would give the opportunity for more people to cycle more safely without fear or worry.

In 2010 I helped organise a take-over of a car parking space in Northgate Car Park but my dream has been to do something much larger and involving the whole community – a real celebration of the inner city space that we own collectively but don’t often use – or only allow motorised vehicles to use freely.

There are lots of spaces within the city walls of Chichester that shout out for more use to be made of them. They are the hidden away bits that you discover when you aren’t on the main streets – when you wander behind the shops or cut down a twittern for example behind M&S alongside the Oxmarket or behind the Pallants and Baffins Lane. Much of this space is given over to bins and car parking and deliveries – but I imagine that this space used to be gardens, orchards and workplaces fitted in between or behind the houses. There are also some amazing trees if you look up behind St John’s Street for example – behind the new UK Harvest headquarters on Market  Road there is a bit of the city walls I have never seen before and some huge trees! Please do go and explore this for yourself.

The Car Free Day idea would allow some of these spaces to be used more creatively. You can imagine a pop up park, or children’s play area or mini farm with animals fitting into these under-used spaces.

There are so many fun things that these spaces could unlock – street art on the ground with chalks, or music spaces for people to relax and listen and dance.

We are calling on the community to come behind the Car Free Day idea and sign up to support it here:

It is only with your support and engagement that we can get this to happen.

We would like this to be a community day to recapture the city streets for people to encourage residents and visitors to wander and discover and explore these hidden corners. To take time and not to rush around in a car but to enjoy the cleaner air and quieter streets we would be making.

I have put in a Freedom of Information Request about asthma levels in the area. Although the reduction of disease is very much one of the driving forces behind this idea – there is so much more fun we could have in bringing together and celebrating our city on such a special day. It is the potential for positive change that a car free day brings with it that I want to be the key idea to take away with you from reading this post.



Cycle Forum needs a new Chair

The  Chair of the Cycle Forum,  Ian Smith, is moving on. Many thanks go to him for this voluntary position which he has served with dedication and thoroughness. Commenting on behalf of the Forum on many a planning document and persevering through all the bureaucracy set in our way.

It is important that this group continues as it is a key link between the cycling groups and the community and the councils.
We have input from Sustrans, SDNPA, the Selsey cycling group, Friends of Centurion Way, CDC and WSCC.

The Forum was founded in 2010 as I noticed that we didn’t have a Forum but Worthing and Crawley and other places in Sussex did. The Cycle Forum brings together campaigners and the councils and the community a few times a year to share news and updates about cycling. Over 30 people turned up on 6th July 2010 (I think that was the date) in County Hall. This was an impressive start and we have had various Chairs in the intervening years.

It is really, really important we find an individual who can step up to this role. There is a lot to get involved in – 27th Feb is a key stakeholder meeting for sustainable travel plans. We ideally need a representative to go along to this meeting (afternoon).

We cannot afford to let this really valuable Forum fade away. If you can get involved and come to the next meeting or speak to me to find out more that would be great.

The next meeting of the Cycle Forum itself is 25th March at 6 pm at County Hall. The Forum doesn’t meet every month but has various sub-groups that work underneath it that meet up in between times – eg the Friends of Centurion Way Users’ Group.

Yes, there is a bit of reading of council documents involved but it really is a unique opportunity to get the voice of people on bikes heard – and it also plays a key role in standing up for people on foot too as so often their voices are not heard either in the room where the “Growth” plan seems to be the main motivation for everything.

If you think you would like to get involved, please do email me or phone me on 07789 843556 for a chat about the role.

Some views on the Local Plan and Peter Brett Associates Report January 2019 

ChiCycle – Some views on the Local Plan and Peter Brett Associates Report January 2019 

Research from New Zealand has shown that congestion and carbon emissions can be reduced by investing in safe walking and cycling paths.

This is news that appears to have escaped the policy makers at CDC and planners at Peter Brett Associates.

As Coordinator of ChiCycle, Chichester’s Cycle Campaign, I am reading the Local Plan Review with caution as walking and cycling should be put at the top of the list according to NICE whereas the measures listed in the local plan are vague and promised in a multitude of future studies.  NICE statistics reveal that physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths and one in four adults are obese in the UK.  However whatever the Plan promises, WSCC has committed to only building 28km of cycle routes over the whole of the county for the next 5 years.

We need to prioritize other means of getting around not always the car. The Peter Brett Associates document is particularly disappointing as it doesn’t include a single crossing for people to cross the road, dangerous inner city junctions aren’t on the list for any improvements, our walking and cycling links over the A27 seem to be impacted.  Cycle paths are mentioned in the Local Plan but it doesn’t spell out what we mean by this – painted lines on the road are not going to deliver the modal shift we need. We need the plan to qualify the routes as direct, convenient, attractive, inclusive, segregated and safe.

A Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is being developed by the councils but unless we know there are earmarked reserves to implement the plan, the fear is that these routes won’t be of good enough quality or joined up.

The previous Local Plan was counting on modal shift levels of 7%. This has now been reduced to 5%. This is disappointing considering the need to reduce our carbon footprint and increase physical activity.

There are no plans to increase safety at Eastgate, the roundabout at the junction of New Park and Spitalfields near the University or, the roundabout near Sainsbury’s at the end of Westhampnett Road. The fact that we were supposed to have a crossing of Oaklands Way linked to the Graylingwell development and this isn’t included in this Local Plan as a junction needing upgrading doesn’t inspire confidence that 12,000 new houses will make it any easier to walk or cycle in the city.

The plan also includes no practical measures on how to improve our air quality. Indeed the report states that there are no constraints on the plan due to air pollution, which is difficult to believe. Residents are already making decisions to avoid walking down certain streets as they know the air quality is bad.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets*, the UK charity for everyday walking, said: “For decades our towns and cities have been built to prioritise motor vehicles resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking everyday journeys.” It appears that these plans are pretty similar – a priority has been put on traffic flow on the A27 and scant attention has been paid to getting people fitter and enabling them to cycle or walk safely.


Bristol City Council – Climate Emergency Resolution Declaration Passes Unanimously!

Bristol City Council has backed an ambitious new pledge for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030 – 20 years earlier than previously agreed.

The Bristol Post is carrying a story on the Council’s declaration that can be read here.

A You-Tube video of the Bristol Council meeting can also be viewed in the media window below.

Bristol now joins Frome Town Council in declaring a climate emergency who have also committed to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2030.

Climate Emergency

Totnes Town Council have also declared a climate emergency and a link to the draft minutes that can be read here

It is a promising sign that local authorities are finally acknowledging the extent of global climate crisis and particularly significant that London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has also declared ‘climate emergency‘.

Acknowledgement of  climate emergency is an essential move forwards but only a tiny step towards implementing the significant changes necessary to transition society towards sustainability.  Let’s hope appropriate actions follow these declarations.

Wishing everyone (especially Chichester’s community of cyclists)  a very happy new year (on behalf of ChiCycle),

Mark Record