More Accessible 'Step Free' Bridge at Elm Grove for cyclists and the disabled

A New Cycle Bridge across the Railway at West Worthing Allotments Summary The proposal is to replace the existing pedestrian footbridge across the railway at West Worthing allotments (between the northern end of Elm Grove Road and the southern end of Princess Avenue). The replacement bridge should be designed with the needs of cyclists, wheelchair users and those with buggies or prams (as well as pedestrians) in mind. This would benefit the community, encourage walking and cycling and reduce congestion and pollution by providing a safe, convenient and attractive route to cross between north and south Worthing. What is the justification? A new stepless bridge which could be conveniently used by cyclists, wheelchair users and those with pushchairs or prams would be a really valuable asset for the local community. Designing traffic free facilities which can be negotiated by cyclists without having to dismount is recognised as a key requirement in encouraging journeys by bicycle. By providing a safe, convenient, low/no traffic route between key locations it could help encourage walking and cycling in preference to car use, reducing congestion and pollution at existing road/rail crossings and at Goring road shops. It would also be a great benefit to wheelchair users who currently have only two traffic-free options to cross the railway in Worthing, both on the eastern side (Ivy Arch tunnel and Ladydell Road footbridge). The new bridge would provide access southwards to Elm Grove school and Goring Road shops with further quiet residential roads leading down to the seafront. To the north it would provide access through to Tarring Village, Salvington, Durrington and Findon Valley. Existing situation There are currently nine points at which the railway can be crossed in Worthing. Five of these are busy main road crossings with no provisions for cyclists at all. Of the other four, two are stepped footbridges virtually impossible for wheelchair users to use and difficult and inconvenient for cyclists and those with a pushchair or pram. One is a narrow tunnel (Ivy Arch) where cycling is banned and it is difficult for wheelchair users, prams, pushchairs and those wheeling a bicycle to pass. One is Ladydell Road footbridge, which does not have steps and is therefore just about cyclable (and I assume useable in a wheelchair) but is steep and narrow. From west to east, the nine railway crossing points are: 1. Shaftesbury Avenue - a busy road bridge that is intimidating for cyclists 2. The existing footbridge at West Worthing allotments - virtually impossible for wheelchair users to use, and difficult for cyclists (who must dismount) and those with pushchairs due to the steps. 3. West Worthing level crossing - a congested and intimidating junction for cyclists with two lanes of traffic heading south. The area also has high levels of air pollution due to queuing traffic. 4. ‘Jacob’s ladder’ footbridge near the north end of Heene Road/Tarring Road junction - impossible for wheelchair users to use and steep and difficult to carry a bicycle or pushchair over 5. South Farm Road level crossing - another busy and intimidating junction with two lanes of traffic going south. 6. Broadwater Road bridge (A24) - a very busy and intimidating main road with no provision for cyclists. 7. Ivy Arch Tunnel - where cyclists must dismount, yet it is too narrow for two cyclists wheeling their bikes to pass comfortably and it has barriers making it difficult to negotiate for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs or prams. 8. Footbridge connecting the north and south sections of Ladydell Road - not stepped, but steep and narrow. 9. Ham Road bridge (B2223) - a busy and intimidating main road with no provision for cyclists. Next steps 1. Initial site survey An initial brief, low cost site survey should be carried out to confirm whether there is sufficient space available for a cycle bridge. This could include contacting Southern Rail to identify whether the slopes of a bridge could run further alongside the tracks than the existing bridge to allow a more gentle gradient to be achieved. There appears to be space to do this. 2. Consultation The next step should probably be to consult the community to identify the potential level of demand and types of users for a bridge. Consultation should attempt to identify the potential for a new bridge to generate modal shift. This can then be used to assess the benefit cost ratio taking into account congestion and pollution reduction and health improvements due to reduced numbers of car journeys and increased walking/cycling. Potential safety benefits of reduced car journeys and providing a traffic free crossing should also be taken into account. A cyclable bridge could also result in substantial journey time savings for many journeys given congestion levels at West Worthing crossing. Time savings could prove to be a substantial incentive to switch to cycling. 3. Design of a new bridge Assuming that the consultation results are positive, then it would be necessary to carry out site surveys and get architects to design a new bridge with a requirement that it must be ‘cyclable’ as well as meet accessibility requirements for wheelchair users. Duncan Kay 9.14