Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Cycling opportunity not to be missed

Flagship national cycle route
Just by Deal Pier, Sustrans’ flagship National Cycle Route 1, joins the main highway after miles of scenic cycling largely on off-road shared paths north from Dover, over the North Downs and along the beach. Sadly this is not the most attractive part of NCR1. Within a few hundred yards, the road narrows suddenly behind the Royal Hotel, before carrying on towards the golf courses and Sandwich.

Bad crash record
This pinch-point has a bad crash record, with 1 serious injury in 2009 and a death in 2010. An elderly
pedestrian was crushed against the Hotel wall when two cars collided - but this was not recorded as
fatality by Highways because he died several months later, having never left hospital.

Kent Highway Services has now agreed to paint‘SLOW’ road markings, a welcome step forward. Major sea defence works But in a few months, there’s an opportunity to consider making this whole seafront area both safer and more welcoming to cyclists and all its users.

The Environment Agency is just consulting on £10m of major sea defence works, including wave walls on the open prom. Dover District Cycle Forum, backed by Spokes, would like to see this include:

Visitor facilities
(1) add seats, cycle stands and a shelter to encourage cyclist tourists to stop and enjoy the seafront, its
cafes, bars and restaurants and the nearby shops;

Better toilets
(2) Add new high-quality public toilets for visitors on the seafront, to replace the poor quality facilities on King Street;

“Cafe culture”
(3) Re-align the Beach Street highway to permit outdoor seating on the pavements in font of cafes
and businesses facing the seafront (on the same lines as the paved area by the Kings Head, Port Arms
and Dunkerleys), with effective traffic calming (such as a 20mph “pavementless street”) to permit
safer pedestrian access between the seafront and the High Street - and preserving drop-off facilities for coaches;

Take cyclists off the road
(4) take NCR1 off-road onto the promenade from the Pier to just before the Royal Hotel,
which many cyclists do now to avoid traffic; Re-locate carpark, transform the space

(5) Move the Royal Hotel car park to the north of the Hotel, enabling the promenade area to be re-planning as an attractive multi-use space, for uses such as Contental markets, performances, outdoor eating areas associated with nearby cafes and restaurants.

Tackle accident blackspot
(6) restrict vehicles to one lane through the narrow pinch-point, ideally with traffic lights - making it
safer for cyclists and all users - a quaint part of the seafront scene rather than a hazardous blackspot. 

One-off opportunity
These enhancements could be achieved much more cheaply if planned while bulldozers are on-site and the whole area is being dug up for the sea defence works. If the interested parties agree a common plan, a timely bid for external funding such as the Coastal Communities Fund could turn the sea defence works into something much better - with powerful potential to help Deal’s regeneration, enhancing the High Street as well as the seafront.

Ian Killbery
Dover & Deal Cycle Forum

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