As 2019 was the year climate change finaly rooted itself into our lives as an undeniable reality demanding an urgent response, 2020 needs to be the year of urgent action.
Because road transport plays a big part in the production of greenhouse emmisions, reducing its impact is a vital part of any serious carbon reduction programme, and – hard as it will be – we must find ways to get around outside of the private motor vehicle, and to decarbonise our streets.
We could follow Bristol in seeking to ban diesel vehicles from parts of the city, or be more like York and look to banning private cars from the centre entirely – either way, a move like this must be a part of the immediate future plans for our city.
But restricting private car use is only one part of the picture and – in similar vein to the London Cycling Campaign ‘Action on Climate’ campaign planned for 2020, we also need mass expansion of our cycling facilities, and – for Brighton & Hove – the urgent creation of a citywide cycling network
Action to increase the level of cycling in cities is both easy and extremely difficult. It is easy because we know what to do – cities with an established urban cycling culture and high levels of cycle use for daily transport (Amsterdam, Copenhagen and others) have led the way in developing the global standard for cycle infrastructure, which is the only approach worth following. The truth is out there – we just need to apply it – but here is the extremely difficult part: the political will and bravery to prioritise cycling, and to see it through and do it properly. This is perhaps the most important part, as well as being the part in short supply.
Happily for us, 2020 will see a few things coming together which offer a real chance of radical change in our city:
Climate Emergency: Our council, like many others has accepted that there is a climate emergency, and has signed to acheive carbon neutrallity by 2030, and to succeed in this we must decarbonise our road network. This is a massive challenge and can only be met by the creation of a citywide cycle network, as well as measures to improve availablity of and access to public transport, a substantial reduction in private car journeys and steps to penalise the most polluting vehicles and to remove them from our streets.
Part of making this happen will be a type of citizens assembly, where a ranomly selected group of residents examine the evidence and make propsals for action. Our council has agreed to this and it will take place in 2020.
From the council website:
Members of the climate assembly could shape transport policy by contributing to the next local transport plan for the city. We will need to bring down emissions by focussing on low-carbon transport; active travel and alternative energy provision. The climate assembly will be your opportunity to shape policy and how we combat climate chaos over the next decade.
Local Transport Plan (LPT5): As mentioned in the quote above, the council is developing its next Local Transport Plan. This is a statutary plan which outlines how the council plans to manage and deliver transport in the future and, in doing so, where it intends to invest available funding. This offers a real opportunity to invest more in sustainable transport generally, and in a citywide cycle network in particular, and the council will be consulting on this in the new year. For more on the LTP, see HERE
Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP): This could be the biggest news of all. The Department for Transport (DfT) launched the national Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) in April 2017, which aims to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey. The strategy aims to double cycling levels by 2025, increase walking activity, reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI), and increase the percentage of school children walking to school. The LCWIP is our local plan for making this happen.
According to the council website:
Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to developing an LCWIP for the city in order to plan strategically for walking and cycling networks, and to ensure the city is well placed for future funding opportunities relating to walking and cycling.
So although it doesn’t automaticaly come with money, it will lead us toward a strategic plan for cycling which is based around a *network*
So far our council seems a little behind on this, and our neighbours in Adur are already at the public consultation stage – for more of their plans, inlcuding a proposed safe route along the coast road from Shoreham to Brighton – see HERE
These formal routes arranged with and led by the council will give our elected members the chance to live up to their promises to provide space for cycling as well as to tackle the climate emergency, and – as public fora there should be opportunities for all of us to play a part.
But this doesn’t take away the need for continued pressure from our communities to keep things moving, and the Extinction Rebellion Brighton BikeSquad will be continueing its monthly bikeswarms, as well as planning some guerilla ‘Tactical Urbanism’ interventions and seeking to work with others to develop regular carfree streets events around the city. To keep up with this and other Extinction Rebellion actions and events, look HERE
Although the backdrop is one of a planet in crisis and the daily global reality of wildfires, floods, extinction and loss, we can be optimistic for 2020 as the year we properly start to change things, and I hope that by this time next year we will be looking back on a prouder legacy, and will see the work of many years by many many people trying to highlight the damage we are doing to ourselves and our planet finaly bearing fruit.
Happy New Year to all.