Work Starts on Rye Harbour ‘Safeway’

Work Starts on the “Safe-way”

As readers are aware, a feasibility study for a Cycle Footway for the length of the Rye Harbour Road was made by East Sussex County Council as long ago as April 2005. The whole route, from the village to the river bridge was included, however due to the length of the route, detailed design and implementation has to be done in a number of phases.

Detailed design proposals for the first phase of the scheme which will eventually cover the whole route to Rye were set to begin on the stage from Rye Harbour village to Bournes at the end of July. In order to provide an acceptable standard of route, third party land was required. Following negotiations between the District Valuer and the landowner, which unfortunately have taken longer than anticipated, County have received a written agreement from the land owner, which was required before any construction could take place, on the value of the area of required land.

In addition, planning permission had to be obtained for the change of use of the industrial land to highway at the eastern end of the route as part of the overall provision of Phase 1. The application was advertised during February 2006 but received an objection which meant that the planning application was reported for consideration by the Planning and Highways Sub Committee. At the meeting on 24 May, the Sub-Committee recommended that the planning application be approved.

After many delays and false starts it seems that work will commence on Phase One of the much needed Cycle and Footway on Monday 31 July. This stage is expected to be completed within 10 weeks. The works will be publicised locally with notice signage on Harbour Road and public information distributed locally to residents and businesses in Rye Harbour.

83 year old Fred Heritage has recently been made a life member of the Rye & District Wheelers. Fred joined the Wheelers in 1947 with his brother Syd. They had been cyclists for ten years prior to becoming members covering many miles on two wheels, before, during and after World War Two. With the Club they cycled hundreds of miles, including short and long distance rides. On Sundays they covered 70 miles in all-day runs, meeting other members, who only rode afternoon rides, for tea at numerous prearranged tea places as far away as Headcorn, Charing, Burwash, Biddenden and Sellinge in the summer months, closer to home in the winter. Pub stops were common as well on the hot summer Sundays, leading to fun and camaraderie. The brothers did a bit of time-trialing, Syd was more serious as a racing cyclist and still holds the Rye - Folkestone - Rye Tandem record with Fred (Curly) Price. Fixed wheels bikes were common and carbide lamps were still relied on for lighting by many riders. Usually there were about 15 members out on the all day rides. 'Curly' Price was employed by Guinness and got permission for the club to use the lovely Tarmac roads that ran through the hop gardens. Members enjoyed these empty smooth roads often using them for short cuts. Fred looks back on those days with great pleasure, it was for him and his brother a time of discovery and adventure and of making life long friends. Fred still rides with the Rye & District Wheelers and clocks up many cycling miles. Gone is the old fixed wheel, he now owns a state of the art lightweight cycle with 20 gears. The roads are not so good nowadays, much more traffic and plenty of 'pot holes' but the bike is better and the friendship and camaraderie are still there. Fred is the oldest and longest serving member in the club and the only one left who can show you the enamel 'Sprocket' lapel badge which every member had in 1947. He was "honoured" when he learned he had been made a Life Member.
83 year old Fred Heritage is looking forward to a safe ride down the Harbour Road to link up with the cycle route from Rye Harbour to Winchelsea Beach

Detailed design work for Phases 2 (from the Bournes to the west of the Industrial area) and Phase 3 (from west of the Industrial area to the drain east of Rye Paddock) should be completed by the end of the financial year with a view to implementation in 2007/08. This could see the whole length of the Cycle / Foot Route open by Christmas 2007.

It took a terrible accident and pressure from Brian Matthews (father of Graham, who was knocked off his cycle and killed), Christopher Strangeways of the Rye Environment Group and members of the Rye Wheelers, to convince those in authority to consider building a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists beside the dangerous road that connects Rye with Rye Harbour. Praise must also go to East Sussex County Council Leader, Councillor Peter Jones, for getting the scheme in motion and to the persistent work that Peter Hayward, Head of the Counties’ Strategic Network Services for his great efforts to see that the plan came to fruition.

The pathway will be far superior to the grit ‘cycle paths’ constructed by Sustran from Rye to Winchelsea by way of the original right of way under Cadborough Cliff and the badly kept track from Montbretton Bridge to Camber and from Jury’s Gap to Lydd. These tracks are suitable for Mountain Bikes but not road cycles.

The Harbour Route will have sufficient width to divide cycles and pedestrians and have a waterproof Tarmac surface with proper drainage. Plans are in place to illuminate the pathway at a later date.

Independent Councillor Sonia Holmes, supported by the Campaign for a Democratic Rye group, is presenting a motion to Rye Town Council, who still retain powers over footpaths within the Town, which would see the construction of a Cycle footway circumnavigating the town that would encompass every school, the BMX Skateboard Park, the playing fields at Tilling Green and The Salts, allotments at Love Lane and The Shipyard, plus connecting the cycle footways to Rye Harbour, Camber and Winchelsea.

This plan, when implemented, will mean that Rye children will be safe on their bikes or on foot besides allowing other cyclists, walkers and hikers a means of getting to all the peripheral places around the town and enjoying wonderful views of Rye from every angle.

Despite all kinds of problems and objections, the money has been found and work has begun on the Harbour Road project just over a year after it was first mooted. Rye Town Council can overcome the same problems and give the town a wonderful asset if they just say yes! The way and the means will follow.

Rye’s Own August 2006

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