MP at motorbike noise meeting

Nick Herbert at the motorcycle noise meeting.
Nick Herbert at the motorcycle noise meeting.

South Downs MP Nick Herbert met residents from Shermanbury and Cowfold to hear their call for action to tackle motorbike noise and speeding on the A281.

The MP was joined by Cowfold resident and former Arundel and Shoreham MP Lord Luce, Horsham District Councillor Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), and Inspector Stewart Goodwin from the Roads Policing Unit of Sussex Police.

More than 20 residents turned up for the meeting at the Chalet Cafe on the A281 on December 12 to raise their concerns about noise and safety on their local road. One resident referred to the ‘toxic’ mix of cyclists, motorbikes, cars, horses and agricultural traffic all using this stretch of the A281.

A local mother told Mr Herbert of her fear of walking on the narrow pavements in Shermanbury with her toddler because motorbike traffic is often speeding along the road.

Mr Herbert said there was clearly a need to tackle this issue, but it was important to delineate the majority of responsible motorcyclists from a minority who were causing the problems.

Inspector Goodwin said that previous operations to monitor speed on the road had found that the average speed was within set limits. He suggested that Sussex Police could support the residents with a Community Speed Watch programme, a local initiative where active members of the community, with the support of the Police, monitor speeds of vehicles using speed detection devices.

Inspector Goodwin also suggested that Sussex Police could undertake a targeted enforcement operation using unmarked vehicles during the next season of motorbike activity. This proposal was widely welcomed by the residents.

Sussex Police run ‘BikeSafe’ in conjunction with Surrey Police which aims to improve the skills and knowledge of motorcyclists and has resulted in fewer bike-related fatalities on the county’s roads.

In response to concerns that some motorbikes may have altered, or non-regulatory, exhaust silencers, Inspector Goodwin said that a previous police operation had found that of 200 motorcyclists stopped only three bikes were non-compliant.

The residents called for changes to the local road signage and speed limits, and decided to write to West Sussex County Council to request a review.

After the meeting, Lord Luce said: “I am grateful to our MP Mr Herbert for attending our meeting of residents on the A281 between Cowfold and Horsham. Motorcyclists have every reason to use the roads as everyone else. However, residents have a right to know that that they do not break speed limits or cause an excessive noise during the summer months at weekends in particular. We look for action to be taken to ensure that they all act within the law.”

Nick Herbert said: “A lot of people turned out for this meeting which just goes to demonstrate the strength of feeling about motorbike noise and speeding on the A281.

“It was very useful to hear from Sussex Police about what can be done to deal with the problem, and I will continue to support the local community to make sure their voice is heard.”