Brighton is built on five hills, some of which are rather steep. One feels like they are walking at a right angle when beginning certain ascents locally. It’s a town that has a lot of gyms for the body conscious as well, something which, for those who want to remain fit, should be a rather redundant option. There are plenty of opportunities to stay healthy without the need to use a treadmill. A power walk up Sussex Street, a run along a wind-swept Madeira Drive, or perhaps a pleasant walk from Woodingdean to Rottingdean via the Castle Hill nature reserve.
Nobody doubts the virtue of exercise. One thing, however, that divides folk in this town, is the issue of transport. I’ve heard it said by many that if you live in Brighton you don’t need a car. For me this is certainly the case. Having sold my last car many years ago, I now walk most places or catch the bus if I’m too lazy. That said, a family with children may be inclined to say that their case is different- and of-course it is.
Many a twitter account, facebook page or blog (ahem) has found itself throbbing with opinions on this subject, particularly since the much maligned Green Party administration took over in Brighton (although technically speaking they aren’t in power. They have no majority on the council, or on a number of committees- a fact conveniently overlooked by some in opposition). It is assumed that they are anti-car, and the significant increase in parking charges, folk say, should be seen as evidence of this. So on the one hand we have people saying that killing the car is killing the town, yet the opposition claims that most folk arrive by public transport anyway. Added to this the bus lanes in Lewes Road have been the final straw for many. Again there is a divide on this, the Greens taking the blame even though it appears all parties have been involved in the process.
Although a lover of the bus and my own feet as transport modes, I try to remain as neutral as possible in this argument. On the one hand I know how convenient and, in some cases essential, the car is. On the other hand I’m sick and tired of people who own a ton of metal thinking they have the right to dictate policy on sustainable transport. That said, an easier way to get families onto the buses would be to make the tickets cheaper, but I cant see that happening any time soon, can you ?
The polarised and non-conformist natures of the population in this town means that this debate will run on and on, and I’m not convinced any new council will alter this. I’ll return to the subject in five years time when nothings changed! In the meantime I’ll just enjoy my swift trip along the bus lanes to the AMEX and back this afternoon and let everyone else argue it out….