Labour Councillors representing Queen’s Park and East Brighton Wards have expressed concern that Madeira Drive is currently unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. Whilst we welcome the changes being made to provide dedicated cycle lanes and allocate space for different modes of travel, Madeira Drive should be closed to cars (except for people with disabilities/blue badge holders) whilst work is done, and lockdown continues.
The safety of our residents should come first, and we are very concerned about the dangers people face on Madeira Drive whilst lockdown continues. Many people feel trapped inside their homes now the days are shorter and especially when the weather is bad. When a warmer, sunny day comes along over a weekend, it is understandable that people want to get outside and be near the sea for a walk or find some space for their kids to let off steam.
Madeira Drive is a popular destination and in theory has plenty of space, but sadly it has once again become dominated by cars, despite the road above offering five lanes for drivers.
The pavement is too busy to allow for social distancing and this is further restricted whilst work is undertaken, plus a cycle lane is being moved, pushing cyclists into the roadway. Pedestrians, runners, cyclists, skaters, e-scooters and cars are now all competing for limited space, and something has got to give.
We as Councillors have seen first-hand the issues on Madeira Drive.
Whilst some drivers are driving sensibly, others are still going too fast down Madeira Drive, treating it as a rat-run to avoid traffic lights on the 5-lane carriageway above. Some cyclists are using the cycle lane and the road, and even travelling in the wrong direction down the one-way car lane!
Meanwhile, there are no dedicated crossing points on Madeira Drive or lights to slow or stop traffic and give pedestrians priority to cross the road.
There is an increasing number of motorised vehicles such as electric scooters and hoverboards which are weaving in and out of crowds of pedestrians, taking them by surprise and Councillors are receiving reports of too many ‘near-misses’.
There are lots of small children on skates, skateboards, bikes and scooters – some in the roadway accompanied by parents and others on the pavement.
Runners are running in the road, in cycle lanes and on the area marked by chevrons because the pavements are too busy.
The ‘pinch point’ near Sea Lanes is now worse because people are queuing, socially distanced, for refreshments in the Sea Lanes area and those queues are extending out onto the pavement. Plus, the area for bikeshare bikes is nearby and people taking bikes in and out are stepping into the cycle lane.
The current situation is chaotic and confusing.
We need a visible presence and action from Council Marshals and police to improve safety.
We understand changes are planned but these ‘near-misses’ are happening now and it only takes a small child on a bike to get in the path of a car or fast moving cyclist or electric scooter and we will have a serious accident or even a fatality on our hands.
Given that the estimate is now to vaccinate everyone by the summer, we have at least 6 months more of this, we urgently need to take action to create a safe space for people.
We are calling on the Green-led Council to urgently close the road to vehicles (except for people with disabilities/blue badge holders), because while lockdown continues our priority is to keep people safe. We first raised this as an issue on 10th January and again on 17th January, but all we have been told is that Council officers are ‘monitoring’ the situation when what we need is action before someone gets hurt.
Labour Councillors representing Queen’s Park & East Brighton wards.
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