A totally car free seafront – is it an achievable ambition?

International ‘Car Free’ day was celebrated in the town on Sunday afternoon as part of the ‘Sustainability on Sea’  festival, with a chunk of the seafront closed to traffic between the pier to Warrior Square.

The event aimed to get people of all ages involved and activities throughout the day included: Source Park BMX bikes, skateboard trials and obstacles; bike rides and bike races with Bike Lab and Hastings Urban Bikes; bike maintenance with Bike Lab; bunting making; outdoor living rooms; discussion spaces for sharing ideas about how to reimagine our daily lives; mini parklets with greenery and seating in parking spaces; alfresco dining and picnicking; big weave free workshop by The Art Shack;
guerrilla gardening with recycle boxes; wind-up/peddle power scalextric and smoothie making; Star Football Academy; chalking the road with a vision for a sustainable future; yarn bombing; skipping; salsa dancing; fitness classes; seed planting and acoustic music.

Despite the damp weather a large number of people turned up to enjoy the events and activities.

 

One of those was hasting Borough Council leader Peter Chowney who said afterwards: “I drew on my 50 years of gardening experience to do a talk on how you can best use your old glass recycling box to grow fruit and vegetables. It’s the first time I’ve ever done a talk on horticulture!”

Mr Chowney says making the seafront car-free remains an ‘ambition’ but one that could potentially be achieved.

He says: “Although controversial, the Hastings to Bexhill link road, and the Queensway Gateway Road when it’s finished, would mean that the A259 trunk road could in effect be routed away from the seafront. It’s a distant possibility at the moment, and would probably need changes to national policy and a Labour government to achieve it, but it’s something I would be prepared to push for, along with better walking and cycling infrastructure and better, subsidised bus services that would reduce car use.”

He concluded: Our first Car Free Day gave us all something to think about and made people realise how pleasant a car-free seafront could be. Well done to the organisers who put this on, on a minimal budget. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again next year.”

Photographs courtesy of Tony Polain

 

 

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