A wonderful example of the hostility of the UK urban environment to people making journeys on foot or by bike is provided by Horsham police station, where I unfortunately had to make a journey recently, to report an accident in which I was sent flying through the air from my bicycle by a motorist who, for some reason, failed to see my dazzlingly bright light. Or me, for that matter.
The police station lies marked, by the ‘A’ symbol, on the map below, just to the north-east of Horsham park – a pleasant five to ten minute walk from Horsham town centre, which appears at the bottom of the image.
But of course, you cannot walk into the police station, or the law courts, or the hospital, from the park. It is fenced off, through the line of trees you can see on the map. Simply walking in would be too easy; and besides, what kind of lunatic is going to want to make a short five minute walk to the police station when they could just drive the long way round and park? So anyone who wants to walk also has to go the long way round, and anyone who wishes to cycle has to deal with Hurst Road, a wide, fast boulevard which will require ‘Bikeability Level 3’ skills to negotiate (according to the Horsham Cycling Review carried out by Transport Initiatives).
And here is an example of how to park once you get to the police station.
Every single one of these cars, almost completely obstructing the rather wide pavement here, must belong either to a police officer or a member of staff. It’s not really the best example to be setting, but as dealing with pavement parking is a council matter, I don’t suppose the police really care. In any case, nobody walks to the police station. The pavement is redundant, and best used as extra parking spaces.
But let’s not be too hasty – if you do manage to walk all the way to the front door of the police station, there is some evidence of your needs being considered.
Yes, there are some crash barriers, dutifully guarding the pavement and the pedestrians assuming their rightful place on it, which will hopefully stop any speeding motorist, careering around the corner into this dead-end, from obliterating you. Lucky you.
You won’t find anywhere to lock your bicycle though –
Certainly not the kind of person who might want to visit Horsham District Council’s own offices at Park North in the centre of town, where there are no bicycle stands (and yet dozens of free parking spaces), and the mere act of wheeling your Brompton into the reception area before folding it merits the stern warning ‘You can’t bring that in here!’
Why cycling and walking in West Sussex is going nowhere fast.