Many cyclists are scared of cycling between Brighton and Lewes because they’ve heard that the cycle lane is on the A27. In fact, it is beside the A27 and is completely segregated from it. The worst part of the ride is the part of the Lewes Road (the A270) in Brighton between the Vogue Gyratory and the bottom of Coldean Lane. Either end of this section is bad. The outbound carriageway is made dangerous at the turning for Coldean Lane by motorists who will cut up cyclists in the cycle lane, which at that point is still on the road. People have been killed and injured. The other end of the same section of road is dangerous on the inbound carriageway because of the way too many motorists behave alongside the row of shops. One such offender has been caught on camera by me – see the video below. The cycle lane on the A27 itself is a real joy. From Falmer it is downhill all the way to Lewes but for some reason unknown to the wit and ken of us two wheelers, the return journey never feels as hard as it should. It is truly a magical hill!
I started recording my route near the top of Hollingbury Hill because I live near there. I strongly advise cyclists not to head out of town Northwards from here, up the Ditchling Road. This is another place where the feng shui of the road causes motorists to behave like nutters. There have been far too many fatalities on this section. Although it adds a few extra miles and minutes to your journey, head South down Ditchling Road from this point. Better to arrive a few minutes late in this world than forty years too early in the next. Especially since there isn’t a next world. This is it.
For far too long us cyclists have been treated worse than horses or dogs on the road. Nicey nicey behaviour by us hasn’t helped our cause. Those who point to cyclists running red lights are grasping at straws. Plenty of us don’t but are still routinely abused by the minority of motorists who couldn’t care less about our safety. Well, the times they are a’ changin’. We’ve got the technology now to pursue the dangerous drivers. I’ve fitted my bike with a cam, which records high definition footage for hours at a time. They’re not that expensive any more. Until now, if we took the trouble to complain to the police, we were told nothing could be done without another witness. This advice was handed down from on high because we were considered to risky witnesses in front of a jury of motorists. Prosecutions have to rest on strong evidence. The video camera is good evidence. We don’t even have to stop to record number plates. Incidentally, time and date stamping videos is a waste of time because the stamping mechanism can so easily be altered. However, a cyclist can prove what time he was out on the road by using an app on his phone to record GPS settings. I do that routinely now. Therefore, there can be no argument when these incidents occur and exactly what happened. In the video that follows, I have recorded two dangerous incidents and I have informed the police about both of them, via the Sussex Police website dedicated to anti-social driving: Operation Crackdown. I suspect the risks they posed to cyclists never crossed the drivers’ minds. This is the root of the problem. Decades of consciousness raising campaigning has got us nowhere. A hundred years and more of the motorised vehicle has proven that many drivers will only behave themselves if they think that they will get in trouble if they don’t. Now they will and the word will spread…
First up, here’s my route. Google maps got a bit stroppy with this one. I definitely didn’t go off on any dog legs but you get the picture… use the controls to zoom and pan…
View Scrapper Duncan’s Old School Cycling – Episode 3: Brighton to Lewes and Back in a larger map
Here’s the video. Many thanks to Rachel Fryer for kindly letting me use her music. You’re a star Rachel!
I received an email back from Sussex Police a couple of hours after I filed the reports. The first email reply related to the second incident – the driver parked in the cycle lane. Whilst making the report I realised that I had wrongly recorded the vehicle’s registration number. Operation Crackdown’s website told me that the number I entered was incorrect. I looked at the video again and realised that I had incorrectly transcribed a “8″ as a “B”. This is what the email said:
Dear Mr Duncan Roy
Thank you for your report to Operation Crackdown regarding the VOLKSWAGEN index XAZ8564.
Operation Crackdown provides the opportunity for members of the communities within Sussex to report incidents of dangerous, careless or anti social driving or riding on the road. This information allows Sussex Police and its Partners to focus on those who present the greatest risk.
The information supplied will be checked against a number of databases depending on the severity of the incident that has been reported.
The most frequently used intervention is a letter of advice sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle from the Superintendent of the Road Policing Unit, however other options include a visit to the driver by a member of the Road Policing Unit, or for the most serious offences a targeted intervention which can lead to arrest and conviction at court.
This is the first time the vehicle has come to notice and we will continue to monitor this vehicle.
Thank you for the filmed evidence and we shall keep this on file.
Since August 2007 Operation Crackdown has received 38022 reports, this has generated 4661 letters of advice, 277 uninsured vehicles have been seized, 312 warnings/seizures have been issued to drivers for anti social driving and 68 drivers have been arrested.
Thank you for your interest in road safety.
Police Headquarters, Malling House, Church Lane, Lewes, East Sussex. BN7 2DZ
Telephone 0845 60 70 999 or Email: Crackdown.Database@sussex.pnn.