I first contacted East Sussex County Council (ESCC) about the disappearance of some no-cycling signs somewhere around 2010. There was at the time a lot of pressure from pro-cycling groups for cycles to be allowed in the pedestrian zone and I remember very clearly that over the course of a night, some of the signs disappeared. Others were turned so that they were facing towards the shops and weren’t visible. I wrote to ESCC and let them know but nothing happened to the signs. I’d noticed the removal of the ground signs, stating no-cycling, from certain areas around town at the same time and I had asked where they had gone. I think the painted ground signs are very effective at alerting people to the cycling status of an area.
Above: A no right turn sign that was out of action for over three months due to its being painted over. Read below.
Then in 2015, I contacted them again to let them know that a sign had been painted out. A no-right turn sign where Pelham Street becomes Harold Place, behind the town centre toilets. I had pointed it out to Community Support Officers, Police Officers and Hastings Council workers and thought one of them would inform the correct authorities. Three months later and more and more cars turning right, I contacted ESCC and told them about the sign. I also reminded them about the cycling signs but they didn’t reply to me, though within 36 hours the sign had been cleared or replaced.
During my communications with Town Centre Management (24/04/2016), I was told:
‘Since my last email to you I haven’t been able to find any more information from colleagues here at the Council or at ESCC about the removal of signage in the town centre’ and that was as far as Town Centre Management could or would help.
I emailed the Labour Councillors for Castle Ward, Sue Beaney and Lee Clark but neither of them responded. I eventually got in touch with Dominic Sabetian of Braybrooke Ward but there appeared to be no constructive way to approach the issues raised. I was forwarded this email from his colleague Sue Beaney as she had raised a query with East Sussex County Council as ‘other residents of our ward who have also had this kind of problem. This neatly summarises the County Council’s position, although you might not find it very reassuring.’ (Email Communication with Councillor Sabetian).
Dear Councillor Beaney,
Thank you for your enquiry in regards to cycling through Hastings Town Centre.
I appreciate the concerns raised however we are unable to provide signs to deter this practice. Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 provides that it is an offence for cyclists to ride on the pavement and fixed penalty notices may be issued in respect to this offence. This problem is not confined to a single area and as such we would need to install a great number of signs that would not only be costly but also very unsightly. Although we have permitted a small number of advisory blue signs in this area, as we do appreciate that the environment is different to a standard carriageway and pavement construction and layout, we are mindful of not giving the false impression that where there are no signs cycling on the footway is permitted.
The law caters for this offence and it is enforceable by the Police. I appreciate that their resources are low and would suggest getting in touch with local cycle groups; perhaps a local awareness campaign coupled with targeted enforcement from the Neighbourhood Policing Team may prove effective in getting the message across that it is unlawful to cycle on the pavement.
You may be reassured to know that I have checked the Sussex Police crash data records for the past 10 years for the pedestrianised areas of the town centre and am happy to confirm that there have been no Personal Injury Crashes involving cyclists.
We have in the past looked to permit cycling through the town centre which would require additional signing to raise pedestrian awareness however previous schemes have not reached implementation due to lack of funding. We aim to promote sustainable transport in line with our priorities set out in our Local Transport Plan to reduce the dependence on the private car and congestion on our roads.
I hope the above information is of use.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us in regards to this matter.
Claire Peedell MIHE EngTech | Traffic Engineer
Communities, Economy & Transport | East Sussex County Council
Tel: 0345 60 80 193 | Email: Traffic.Safety@eastsussex.gov.
As you can read, ‘we are unable to provide signs to deter this practice‘ in reference to pedestrian zone cycling and yet have ‘a small number of advisory blue signs in this area‘.
There is some sensible stuff about an awareness campaign but ESCC need to do their bit first, making sure the signs are visible. Unfortunately neither Town Centre Management nor the Police have any interest in awareness campaigns so it’s a moot point.
The police have confirmed with me that they will not prosecute cyclists so it’s open season as well. I’ve observed a Community Support Officer (he may actually be a Police Officer now) telling an older couple, who had just had a near miss with a speeding cyclist and drawn the Officers attention to the cycle, that the biker was within his rights to cycle on the section of road he was on. If you look in the photo below, you can see a boy on a BMX in almost the exact spot. The darkened paving is the access road that runs from the town hall. If ends just out of shot but I’ve heard a few conversations with cyclists claiming it’s legal to cycle on it. I’m afraid I have no idea how this idea has developed.
Above: Google is our friend. The darkened path the police officer said it was okay to cycle on.
Of course, he wasn’t within his rights to cycle here. I told the police and they confirmed they will let all Officers know that it isn’t okay. However, considering that the police rarely patrol through the town centre, this won’t have any practical outcome. The shot above is not indicative of the police’s presence in the Town Centre.
I won’t go into it here but was shocked to see that no Personal Injury Crashes have been notified as it has come to my attention that the police have been notified officially by a number of people in touch with Councillor Beaney as well as by myself.
Hastings Town Centre, no-cycling signage – Aerial View 1
Let’s have a look at the pedestrian zone. Point 1 is the entrance to the zone by Pound Stretcher. The smaller yellow dot above point 1 is a no-cycling sign. See pictures below.
Point 2 is the Town Hall/ Cinema entrance.
Point 1 – Albert Road/ Wellington Place, Hastings.
Above: One of the entrances to Hastings pedestrian zone. Spot the no-cycling sign.
If you are cycling up Albert Road, there’s no clear no-cycling sign as you turn into Wellington Place. Surely you need to alert people before they have cycled in. Where is the sign?
Above: We find the blue no-cycling sign at Point 1. Small and inoffensive and easily missed. Has possibly been moved from outside Millet’s though ESCC are clueless.
Point 2 – Town Hall/ Odeon Cinema, Hastings.
Above: Spot the no cycling sign, part 2. Can you see where it is yet?
Above: Point 2. It means no cycling, unless there’s a local bye-law sign that says otherwise, but it’s not a no-cycling sign.
Here’s why it needs spelling out.
Above: I was sitting in Mr.Beans, Hastings having a coffee. Judy Rodgers, the Labour Mayor was in here to. I counted 120 cyclists go past in the 25 minutes I sat there.
Above: And another cyclist riding out of Hastings pedestrian zone.
Hastings Town Centre, no-cycling signage – Aerial View 2
- Point 3 we will call Pelham Fountain.
- Point 4 is the entrance to Pelham Street. I marked it here as I see people cycling around the side of Sports Direct, the big building on the right and another entrance to the pedestrian zone. However, the important spot is at the other end, marked by the smaller blue dot and the meeting of Pelham Street with Harold Place as mentioned at the start of the article.
- Point 5 is Wellington Place and an excellent example of what East Sussex County Council thinks is sufficient signage.
Point 3 – Pelham Fountain
I’m rarely in this part of town but whenever I come over, usually to Argos, I see people cycling in through the walkway at the top right corner of the arrow shaped building between points 3 and 4. They are cycling on the cycle lane on the seafront and then use the pedestrian crossing at the top left of our arrow shaped building.
So let’s have a look at what you see as you cycle along the pavement (heck, you might even be one of the fabled road cyclists).
Above: Two pedestrian zone signs but no no-cycling signs. These aren’t even visible to the cyclists using the pavement.
Like this pavement cycler…
Point 4 – Pelham Street meets Harold Place.
Above: Two lads on BMX’S avoiding the roads on their unroadworthy bikes. Not a brake amongst them. And where are the signs?
The photo above is an all too common site. Cyclists using the seafront cycle route are apt to come out here after using the Denmark Place underpass (pictured below). I’ll return to that in another article. Suffice to say, they’re not supposed to.
I was hit by a cyclist going very fast as he cycled down here into the town centre (cough – pedestrian zone – cough) up ahead.
Above: No signs here. The underpass from Hastings seafront to Harold Place. The seafront side is badly signed but we’ll get to that later.
Below: Because I wouldn’t want you to think it was all BMX’s.
Point 5 – Wellington Place
Okay, on to my favourite area. An easy fix but for some defies-all-logic kind of reason, ESCC will not do ANYTHING. Please excuse the bold but for years I have been asking them to do something and yet time and time again I see them in town fiddling around and yet they can’t spare the time to sort these signs out.
Sign 1 – Opposite McDonald’s, Wellington Place
Let’s have a look at the fellow. He’s our lowest yellow dot.
Above: Because we want to be clear that it’s a no-cycling area, right?
Let’s check it out from another angle…
Above: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a shot of the cyclist as he made his way to McDonald’s through the busy crowd.
Sign 2 – Nationwide
This is our little orange dot on the left.
Now we want to make sure that people can see that we’re in a pedestrian zone so we’re going to use “a small number of advisory blue signs in this area” and then, err, have them facing the shops. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Above: Don’t look at me, I’m shy. Let’s have our sign facing Nationwide and let’s hide it with a flower basket.
Below: Let’s see that from another angle, for those who don’t know the area.
Above: Behind the sign you can see Millet’s and another hanging basket just to its left. This is to give you an idea of the kind of distance between the shop and the sign. We’re heading over there next!
Sign 3 – Millet’s
We’re up to our uppermost orange dot. Now unfortunately, before I went to take a photo of our Millet’s facing sign, it disappeared. I happened to be communicating with ESCC via the Town Centre Management at the time. Although no one knew anything about anything, someone had the sign taken down and replaced with this. I saw the Council employees up the post and stupidly thought they were moving it to face outwards. The very next day, out to take some photographic evidence, it had gone. I’m not sure if this is the sign that made its way round to our small yellow dot by Point 1. I admit, I’m unsure that I ever saw a sign there before and then suddenly there was one there, so maybe it’s our Millet’s sign. Anyway, without further ado.
Above: Where our third no-cycling sign used to live. Facing a shop, out of sight and between two hanging baskets.
Hastings Town Centre, no-cycling signage – Aerial View 3
- Point 5 is by Andrews Estate Agents at the meeting of Robertson Street Pedestrian end and Havelock Road, through the centre of town.
- Point 6 is the start of the pedestrian zone as Robertson Street meets Trinity Street.
- Point 7 is the start of the pedestrian zone at Cambridge Road and Priory Street, the old post office.
- Point 8 is outside Jones shoe shop, opposite Sweet Selection.
Point 5 – Havelock Road meets Robertson Street, pedestrian zone.
Above: Up high and easy to miss.
Below: Can you see it now? This cyclist can’t.
Point 6 – Robertson Street meets Trinity Street
Above: Robertson Street meets Trinity Street. A pedestrian zone sign on the left. Set back on the right is our blue no-cycling advisory sign.
Below: I move to get a different shot and a cyclist appears on cue.
I’ve talked to many cyclists and pedestrians who didn’t even know the advisory sign was here. It’s set back from the entrance and people just aren’t looking for them. The cyclists are also ignoring the pedestrian zone sign that is at the entrance. Some bad pathway markings of the coastal cycle route makes it look like you can cross over the road on the seafront using the pedestrian crossing and leads you straight onto the pavement. Many cyclists then cycle straight down the road or pavement and into the pedestrian zone.
Above: I went to take a photo of the sign from another angle and lo and behold, more cyclists.
Below: And off they go to the Bmx park, one on the pavement and one on the road against the traffic, before joining his friend on the pavement and causing pedestrians on the busy pavement to have to step aside rather quickly.
Point 7 – Cambridge Road meets Priory Street.
Above: Can you see where it is yet? Our blue advisory sign is set back from the entrance
The entrance above is on a one-way road with cars coming from the left and heading up behind the photographer. In spite of this, cyclists will come down the one-way road and straight down in the pedestrian zone ahead. The sign itself is set back from the entrance and again, inquiries with pedestrians and cyclists has revealed that no-one knows it is there.
Above: A cyclist rides past whilst I stand here. There is another cyclist in the background. I missed the one who had been going down the hill as I arrived.
Below: Bent and facing to the right. Like this for years. Who keeps an eye on these signs?
And remember, Google is our friend.
Rather interestingly, I pointed out to the council about cyclists being visible on another section of Google maps and within weeks it had been removed from the street view historical records. I went to the official Google forum and it was confirmed that they would only remove photos if asked to do so. The entire stream of photos of a guy cycling down Robertson Street pavement were removed.
Point 8 – Jones, Robertson Street.
Above: Excellently placed sign for those with eyes on the side of the head. It faces the sweet-shop opposite.
I wanted to say more about these Hastings signs but I’m afraid I’ve made myself deathly ill sorting this post out so it just needs to be posted as is. I hope you can see that the signage is inadequate in placement and visibility. Alone, fixing the signage will do nothing because some people will ignore it but it sure will help as part of a concerted effort.
I think that sandwich board style adverts placed over the bollards in the centre of town and at strategic points around town would help greatly. I can picture the Town Hall or the local policing team playing a role and getting them out every day during the spring and summer months in particular.