Earlier on in March this year the missing link’ team made up of members of the Friends of the South Downs and SCATE (South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment) reached its first milestone in the survey of missing links across the National Park. The team led by Policy Officer Vic Ient, including Society members Robert Self and Mered Harries together with CTC Cycling club members, met with South Downs National Park officers to hand over survey information of numerous missing link locations. Vic Ient said, “I’m particularly grateful to Society member Mered Harries for his work in documenting all the suggestions we have had over the winter months”.
The next stage is for the National Park to analyse the data and produce a digital map so that it can be used as a reference document in the future when applications are made for funding by local groups including parishes, clubs and societies as well as by the highways authority who are responsible for roadworks. Speaking on behalf of the Society and SCATE, Policy Officer Vic Ient said “In the mean time we will continue with the surveys especially in Hampshire and Northwest Sussex where we need more feedback from local parishes and organisations. The intention is that we meet with the National Park when they’ve completed their digital mapping and hopefully help them prioritise and classify the missing links”.
At the meeting with the National Park the Society also raised other issues which have come out of the surveys. The Society hopes to have further discussions about designating and promoting ‘quiet lanes‘ (see also the CPRE guide) where the priority in the lane is one of being ‘shared’ between vehicles, horses, cycles and walkers. We have also raised the importance of the creation of long-distance multi-user pathways which could be particularly beneficial to separating cyclists and walkers away from hazardous busy roads. This theme was taken up by David Sawyer, the Chairman of our Society at a recent meeting with the National Park. He cited the importance of progressing ‘The Rother Way’ in West Sussex. (see also the SUSTRANS guide)
Since the project began in the autumn of 2019 the Society have engaged with individuals and organisations across the Park by email, local meetings and a workshop (held in January). Organisations including the Mid Sussex Bridleways Access Group ( British Horse Society) , Cycle Lewes , Cycle Seahaven, Friends of Lewes, Cycling UK (Hampshire), Sustrans West Sussex, Transport Action Network, Adur and Worthing Cycling, Friends of the Earth and Lewes Living Streets as well as cycle shops such as Bespoke Cycling Eastbourne and Mr Cycles.
The ‘Missing Link’ Project is aimed at drawing up a list of suitable roads where improvements are needed to make cycling/walking/mobility safer, The objective is to connect up sections of roads to create a fully functional cycle network which will also provide safe routes for walkers and in some cases make provision for mobility users and horse-riders throughout the National Park. These are for both recreational and utility use and if improved would help the National Park encourage ‘modal shift’ and reduce carbon emissions. Once locations have been assessed and mapped it is hoped that campaigning organisations, parish, district and county councils can use the data to help apply for grants to complete some of these missing links. Obviously, the Highways Authorities (County Councils) would have to approve any improvements. However, we are hoping that with the South Downs National Park backing that the ultimate list of identified locations will gain support more easily than multiple ‘ad hoc’ proposals being put forward. Vic Ient, Policy Officer said “Once the National Park has digested our report, we will send out a message as to how people can help with the next stage”.
Previous update on the ‘Missing Link’ project:
30th Oct 2019: https://friendsofthesouthdowns.org.uk/help-us-complete-that-missing-link/
16th Jan 2020: https://friendsofthesouthdowns.org.uk/missing-links/
27th Jan 2020: https://friendsofthesouthdowns.org.uk/missing-link-project-gains-momentum/