Our candidate for Goring in Thursday's West Sussex County Council elections in Goring, Rebecca Cooper, answers some questions from Transition Town Worthing on making Worthing an environmentally sustainable town.
Increasing the capacity of the roads to meet predicted demand creates car dependency with many associated problems: poor air quality, severance of communities, carbon emissions, and inactive lifestyles. How would you support and integrate sustainable modes of transport so that it is more attractive to leave the car at home, and so that households without cars have viable transport choices?
To make active transport for local journeys an attractive choice, we have to make it the normal and preferred choice. By local journeys, I am going by the SusTrans definition of one less than five miles – their goal (and I think that ours should be too) is that four out of every five local journeys should be made on foot, by bike or public transport.
We have to make it easy and affordable for people to use public transport. The bus routes and frequency in Worthing need to be reviewed and the affordability of a journey has to be considered seriously. I have often found a taxi to be not only more convenient, but actually cheaper than a bus in to and out of the town centre! This cannot be right and the County Council must review its town transport system.
Worthing seafront is already an excellent place to cycle and our roads must reflect that opportunity through the provision of easy to use and well maintained cycle lanes, particularly on the busier routes. I would be interested in the possibility of cycle hire opportunities in the town centre and on the prom, to encourage people who do not own a bike to give it a go. This would also be a good resource for tourists to access.
The World Health Organisation has identified air pollution as being the largest health risk to humans & traffic pollution is a major cause. What will you do to improve monitoring and public awareness of the issue in Worthing, and what measures will you advocate to improve air quality?
As a Councillor, I would work closely with the Public Health and Environmental Health teams in the County Council to ensure that they have sufficient resources to address this issue appropriately. I would ask both teams to suggest effective awareness raising campaigns that would work in an urban setting such as Worthing, targeting messages across the population through a variety of mediums including media coverage, social media, working with schools and distribution of literature where appropriate.
To improve air quality, I would advocate regular monitoring and reporting on pollution levels in Worthing (encouraging coverage in the press to ensure that the public are aware), increasing active transport to the highest possible levels in the town and involving local schools in the promotion of a Clean and Healthy Worthing for both now and the future.
Danish levels of cycling in the UK would save the NHS £17billion within 20 years. Shifting 10% of journeys from car to bike would reduce air pollution and save 400 productive life years. As last year’s Waves Ahead conference showed, there is an urgent need for safe cycle paths in and around Worthing in order to give people confidence to use their bikes. How do you propose to make sure that Worthing gets its share of investment in cycling infrastructure, and what are your priorities for that investment?
To ensure that Worthing gets its share of cycling infrastructure, I would organise a round table on active transport in the area and invite local partners such as Transition Town Worthing to inform, debate and discuss the best way forward for promoting cycling as part of a larger infrastructure development plan for Worthing. As a Public Health Consultant as well as an elected Councillor, my priorities for such investment would be to ensure that the people of Worthing are making healthy choices their normal choices. Increasing physical activity through utilising public transport, cycling and walking is a major part of a healthy lifestyle. I would also expect my priorities to be informed by local organisations and experts who have spent many years developing plans for active transport in Worthing, and need an advocate to see these plans come to fruition.