Endorsements

The following organisations and individuals have pledged their support to the campaign.

“The British Horse Society (BHS) is the UK’s largest equine charity and equestrian membership organisation and the governing body for recreational riding.  Its charitable objects include the promotion of equestrian safety, particularly on roads, and equestrian access to bridleways and other off-road multi-use routes for the public benefit.

The Downs Link is a valuable all weather public bridleway. Equestrians use it as part of circular routes connected by other bridleways and rural lanes. Within the Rudgwick Parish, these routes are severed by the dangerous crossing, at grade, of the busy A281, a strategic HGV route. Few equestrians will now attempt this crossing due to speed of traffic and poor sightlines. Groups of riders have even greater problems crossing.

The British Horse Society supports this campaign to build a bridge over the A281 because it will restore safe use of the Downs Link for equestrians.”

Hilary Jubert, Access and Bridleways Officer

British Horse Society

“Rudgwick Preservation Society asks that you support the idea of a bridge at the A281 Downs link crossing. I do not need to go back over the issues surrounding the tragic accident to a cyclist, or the subsequent damning coroner’s report.

RPS organise walks on summer evenings. We have not felt able to use this crossing since 2016. Traffic grows apace.

We need to make the crossing safe for all users. We notice for example how few equestrians use the crossing.

The A281 is on the Lorry Network which diverts additional traffic through Bucks Green. It is crazy that the speed limit is 60mph on the approach from Horsham.

The number of people both pedestrians and cyclists using the trail has increased during the last year or two. It is wrong that they feel inhibited in walking/cycling/riding from the village towards Slinfold.

Whilst we accept that a bridge is very expensive, we also feel the Downs Link is a national trail, and should be treated as a priority.”

Roger Nash, Chairman

Rudgwick Preservation Society

“The Downs Link is a key commercial, social, leisure, health and well-being contributor to the economy of Cranleigh.

As long as the Downs Link is not bridged on the A281, we cannot guarantee a safe environment for walkers, cyclists, and critically for disabled leisure users.

The Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce vigorously supports the ‘Bridge the Downs Link’ campaign.’’

Rosemary French, President

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce

“The Downs Link crossing of the A281 near Rudgwick is probably the most dangerous junction on the whole 37-mile length of this very well-used national cycle route.

The risks of the crossing have been well known by the council for more than a decade, who have so far chosen not to make it safe in any significant way.

The Horsham District Cycling Forum is proud to support the Bridge the Downs Link Campaign – we need a bridge there now, so no one else needs to die on that road.”

Francis Vernon, Chair

Horsham District Cycling Forum

“Our Pathushan was an exemplary young man with a bright future. He was completing a charity cycle from Woking to Brighton in order to support those suffering in the crisis of Yemen when he was struck by a fast moving lorry that weighed over 32 tons.

The cycling route that was taken is advertised as “safe” and “family-friendly” on the council’s website which unfortunately is not the case. Pathushan had many desires and goals which included a thriving music career under the stage name, RXNIN.

A man of many talents robbed of his precious time on this Earth simply because of the lack of safety precautions at the Down’s Link Crossing.

He is only one of many that have been affected by this and we hope that this campaign will bring forward the necessary safety constraints to stop any further tragedies occurring.

Please support this campaign by writing a letter to Joy Dennis, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at the following email address: joy.dennis@westsussex.gov.uk in supportof the bridge crossing for the A281 Down’s Link Crossing.

Thank you.

Pathushan Sutharsan’s family

“The Downs Link path is a regional facility in Surrey and Sussex passing through some wonderful landscapes. Growing numbers of walkers, equestrians and cyclists use it for recreation and pleasure.

However, there has been increasing local awareness of the safety issues facing users at the Downs Link crossing of the A281 road. As part of the Lorry Network this is a busy road and negotiating the crossing can be very difficult. Many village residents choose to avoid it, particularly when out and about with children or animals.

Suggestions have come forward over the years from individuals, local groups, and Rudgwick parish council as to what might be done to improve safety at the crossing. Unfortunately approaches and dialogue with WSCC have yet to provide a result.

The tragic, fatal accident at the crossing in 2020 shocked and saddened the local community. The subsequent coroner’s report demonstrated the need for action now to ensure that locals and visitors alike may enjoy walks and rides on the Downs Link in safety.

A bridge over the crossing would provide access, safe transit and peace of mind to all users. Rudgwick Parish Council supports the Bridge the Downs Link campaign.”

Cllr Sue Kornycky

Rudgwick Parish Council

“The West Sussex Cycle Forum supports those who wish to see a bridge at this Downs Link crossing point. The Downs Link’s potential as a fine route for all is unrealised at present partly because of dangerous crossings such as this one.

However sophisticated the (at-grade) crossing, the thought that people on horseback, on bicycles, on mobility scooters, or on foot have to come within a few metres of traffic rushing along at high speed – well it’s going to discourage all but the determined or the unprepared.

To make an at-grade crossing fully without risk is either impossible or hugely complicated and expensive. A bridge for all is expensive but completely without risk and will encourage more people to use the Downs Link.”

Geoff Farrell, Chair

West Sussex Cycle Forum

“As an international athlete, I frequently use the Downs Link to train on and often need to cross over the A281 at this point. It breaks up my momentum in having to stop at the crossing for a short period of time, which can be frustrating. However, the speed and quantity of traffic along this road means I cannot afford to take a risk.

Many other runners use the Downs Link as it is safe and a great surface for running.

I fully support the ‘Bridge the Downs Link’ campaign and I am sure I am speaking on behalf of many fellow runners.”

Jake Wightman

Olympic athlete (represented Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Games)

“At the Slinfold Parish Council meeting on 30th September 2021, councillors discussed the merits of bridging the Downs Link across the A281 at Rudgwick, given the tragic loss of life of a man crossing the road last July.

The Parish Council agreed to support the building of a bridge.”

Slinfold Parish Council

“Rudgwick Riders are a local group of cyclists based in Rudgwick going out for weekly cycles for at least 10 months of the year.

Rarely does the group head south along the Downs Link because crossing the A281 as a group is not only time consuming but also dangerous.

A bridge would really help overcome this issue and allow us to access all the bridleways extending from the Downs Link.”

Fiona Sodha

Rudgwick Riders

“There are several reasons why this significant crossing needs an upgrade.

Firstly, the Downs Link provides a valuable leisure opportunity for so many people: walking and cycling, young and old. Dogs and horses too! Everyone deserves to be safe, and the A281 crossing is a clear and serious problem.

Secondly, West Sussex County Council has stated that it is committed to improving the ability of people to make utility cycling journeys for work, school or shopping. The opportunity to create better connections between rural towns and villages should be part of this. Alongside the improvements that are needed within towns, let’s not forget rural routes too.”

Clive Andrews

Shoreham-by-Cycle

“The Downs Link is an incredible asset. That one is able to walk or ride a bicycle or horse largely uninterrupted through such beautiful scenery linking town and village, coast and country is a special and wonderful thing.

However, the crossings with main roads are the weakest links, and the A281 is the weakest; a tragic, dangerous mess, recently claiming the life of a young man who was simply trying to raise money for a worthy cause on a route that is supposed to be safe.

To avoid further tragedies, and to give continuity to a leisure and transport asset benefitting West Sussex and Surrey, there needs to be a bridge, and it needs to happen as soon as possible.

A bridge would really help overcome this issue and allow us to access all the bridleways extending from the Downs Link.”

Jim Davis, Founder

Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

“I fully support the Bridge the Downs Link campaign.

As a local businessman and previously a Parish Councillor, I have been keen to improve the crossing for many years. Sadly, despite attending many meetings and site visits with WSCC Highways etc, during which they have all agreed that this is a very dangerous crossing and an accident waiting to happen, it has always been a case of not enough money.

Over the last 5 years I have witnessed large increases in traffic on the A281 and indeed on the Downs Link. We are so fortunate to have such a great free amenity on our doorstep, however the A281 crossing is a dangerous barrier to that facility. I understand that a bridge is an expensive solution, but I strongly believe that being the only one which separates the fast-moving vehicles and pedestrians it is THE ONLY SOLUTION.

Increasing cycling and walking are Government policy and WSCC have adopted them wholeheartedly. A bridge, although expensive, can be justified as it would safely link two increasingly popular sections of the Downs Link.”

Rob Bookham

The Milk Churn cafe, Rudgwick

“This tragedy could so easily have been mine, or another family’s. My youngest is almost the same age as Pathushan and my children have also ridden for charity on the Downs Link. It is very painful to imagine life if our places had been swapped.

WSCC has made some changes to the crossing to reduce the risk of another life being lost here but, as the Coroner said already in her report, these changes are not enough.

The right solution is a bridge, which will completely separate walkers, cyclists and horse riders from the fast, heavy traffic and will be safe for young and old alike. Unlike a traffic light-controlled crossing, a bridge won’t hold up the traffic on the A281 and won’t have to rely on drivers paying attention.

A bridge will come at a cost, perhaps in the order of £2m. But losing a life in a road collision isn’t just a personal tragedy, it too is expensive. The government has calculated the cost to society every time someone is killed on our roads to also be about £2m. That’s one life – or the cost of a bridge.

A safe crossing will not only save lives and injuries, but it will mean that this stretch of the Downs Link becomes accessible to far more people including children, older people and those with disabilities. At the moment, many locals cut short their walk or ride when they reach the crossing. Other users come from further away: Guildford, London and even (following the Avenue Verte) all the way from Paris.

There is huge untapped potential for the Downs Link to be a key part of the wider National Cycle Network and to boost our local leisure and tourism economy. The bridge is one missing piece which holds this back.

It is likely to be easier for WSCC to win external funding for a large transformative project like a bridge than to find the money to tinker around with a sub-standard crossing at surface level. 

For years local residents have warned that this crossing was a tragedy waiting to happen. Sadly, now it has. We must not have another one.”

Cllr Ruth Fletcher

Horsham District Council, Denne Ward

“I am a local resident who feels that this tragic accident could have been prevented. My son is a similar age and actually was driving in the traffic just after it happened so it really resonated with me. I have a small early years setting in Rudgwick and have always taken the children in my care outside for most of the day through our forest school activities and have been on many walks around Rudgwick with them including along the South Downs link.

Sadly, there is absolutely no way that I could ever entertain crossing that piece of road with the children in my care.

I really can’t understand why the road was left that way. So dangerous.”

Tonia Jackson-Robson, Owner

Jack and Gill Childcare and Forest School

“I use the Downs Link when visiting family – it is such an excellent and unique traffic-free route for cycling in a beautiful area of the country.

However, the crossing over the A281 near Rudgwick is a horrible one – the sightlines are poor, and drivers are either speeding up for the National speed limit, or have yet to slow down for the 40mph limit.

I dislike crossing there on my own, and for families it must be a lot worse. A bridge is desperately needed so that people can safely enjoy this fantastic route.”

Dave Walker

Cycling Cartoonist and Author

“The Disabled Ramblers is a small charity working across England and Wales to help make the countryside more accessible to people with limited mobility – which benefits everyone.

We campaign to raise awareness of the needs of people with limited mobility and organise a national programme of rambles for people who use mobility scooters.

There are very few Public Rights of Way that are accessible to people with limited mobility who have to use a mobility scooter to access the countryside. However, the Downs Link is an excellent route and one which we have used for our organised rambles.

This, though, was in the past. With today’s volume of traffic and the speed at which it flows, there is no way that we would risk crossing the A281 near Rudgwick. We offer our wholehearted support for a bridge to be built at this point.”

John Cuthbertson, Chairman

Disabled Ramblers

“In Summer 2020 I took my pre-teen daughter with me on the Downs Link from Guildford to Brighton. It was a remarkable experience, at least in places where the surface had recently been re-done.

But for all of our attempts to have a road-danger-free holiday ride through Surrey and Sussex, the crossing of the Guildford Road at Rudgwick was terrifying. The section is straight enough that you would not expect visibility problems, but the hill to one side and the overall growth of vegetation made it unclear if anyone could see us! The straightness of the road also had an unfortunate side-effect, as the motor traffic went past at extremely high speeds for such a narrow lane.

I prepared my daughter that we would need to cross quickly, and chose the moment to give her the best chance of reaching safety first. She made it over ahead of me, but unfortunately she then skidded and fell over on the loose gravel on the far side. Fortunately she was out of the way of traffic by then and largely unharmed, but this crossing is a nightmare on an otherwise inviting and enjoyable route.

This could be a regular route for families travelling to the south coast, but for that to happen this terrifying and deadly crossing needs to be fixed.”

Nick Moffitt

Ealing Cycling Campaign

“I totally support a bridge as being the best and only solution to The Downs Link crossing over the A281 at Rudgwick. I totally disagree that a Pegasus Crossing provides similar benefits to a bridge. The bridge guarantees no further deaths or injuries to users of the Downs Link, a Pegasus does not.

The speed limit changes at the point of the crossing from 60mph to 40mph, most westbound traffic is travelling at least 50 mph at this point and many even faster. Eastbound vehicles are accelerating up the hill with a derestriction sign in sight, again many in excess of 50 mph. The speed analysis in the feasibility study seems to have measured traffic speed at some other location and needs revising.

£2m is the cost of guaranteed safety which a bridge will bring, the Pegasus will in the long run prove to be a false economy with the ongoing maintenance costs and potential danger to road users.”

Cllr Richard Landeryou

Horsham District Council, Rudgwick Ward

“Having lived in Bramber for over 40 years, I was both pleased and relieved when an alternative, grade-separated Downs Link crossing of the A283 just south of the village was developed a few years ago, albeit involving a significant diversion.

At Rudgwick there is no need to divert, as the original railway crossing was grade separated. As the 2004 Sustrans report Guildford to the Sea (commissioned jointly by West Sussex and Surrey County Councils), said ‘The crossing of the A281 is a significant break in the continuity of the path. If the bridge were re-instated it would establish a valuable connection between Surrey/Rudgwick and the Horsham area.’

This is even more relevant today with the need to facilitate and encourage sustainable travel.

With increasing motor traffic volume and speed, and increasing use of the Downs Link for leisure and commuting, this crossing deserves a full cost-benefit analysis for both grade-separated and at-grade options, including carbon footprint and environmental impact assessment.”

Cllr Mike Croker

Horsham District Council, Bramber, Upper Beeding and Woodmancote Ward

“The Downs Link path is a wonderful facility and I want everyone to be able to enjoy it safely.

The A281 is the only unprotected crossing of a major A-road on the Downs Link. I support a bridge over the crossing to ensure safe crossing and peace of mind for all users.”

Cllr Christian Mitchell

West Sussex County Council, Broadbridge Division

I have enjoyed riding along the Downs Link for many years and always approach this crossing with caution, especially when riding with my two sons. I can only imagine how daunting it must be for horse riders.

My personal view is that a bridge is the only way to ensure the safety of Downs Link users and it would also serve to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle in the Horsham District.”

Ben Morris

Editor, All About Horsham

“This bridge isn’t a luxury, it’s a vital part of our network. We need to treat walking and cycling infrastructure with the same seriousness that is routinely given to roads.

Too often we end up in a conflict between motorists and cyclists. But actually they’re mostly the same people – walkers and cyclists are also drivers.

The solution is to create true, traffic-separated routes that are safe enough for everyone to use.”

Cllr John Milne

West Sussex County Council, Horsham Riverside Division

“I am happy to endorse the campaign to Bridge the Downs Link, providing a safe crossing for all users of the Downs Link path across the busy A281 near Rudgwick.

While a cyclist and keen local walker who has travelled the Downs Link through our district, I am also a driver. For the past year I have made a daily commute with my young son to Rudgwick along the A281. Knowing the tragic history of the crossing has plagued with me with anxiety when approaching the current, dangerous and inadequate crossing.

The traffic is simply too fast. The visibility too limited. Current mitigation attempts to make the crossing more safe are not enough.

Rarely does traffic heed warning signs to decelerate to 40 MPH prior to the crossing westbound. Meanwhile I watch cars in front accelerate to 60 MPH eastbound by the time they reach the crossing.

While WSCC seems reluctant to change traffic speeds – something which could have easily been done by now – I feel the situation of this vital Downs Link crossing means only a bridge can safeguard its users.”

Cllr Jon Olson

Horsham District Council, Forest Ward

“On Saturday [23rd July, the day of the memorial event for Pathushan Sutharsan who was killed at the crossing in July 2020] I met Hilary Jubert at the Downs Link crossing of the A281 near Rudgwick.

The crossing has already seen a tragic loss of life and while it is already far safer we really need a better long term solution. Hilary and colleagues are actively campaigning for an improved scheme for all users. Reinstating a bridge would not only meet this objective but have wider benefits. The Downs Link is an important trail and taking it off tarmac is a powerful message to help build visitor interest as well as local utilisation as a sustainable route, encouraging wider use and the associated well-being benefits.

I am delighted that because of the wider economic and social benefits for the area and the safety benefits to riders, cyclists, walkers and indeed those using the A281, HDC have applied for funding to support the project under a specific central Government fund. Given the range of applicants likely to come in, this is by no means a certain route to securing the financial support required but it is great news.”

Jeremy Quin

MP for Horsham

“The Downs Link path has beautiful landscapes which the local communities use for fitness, mental health or even for pleasure. This path has helped me with my own fitness goals in the past while training for the London Marathon in 2019 and it has helped me rediscover my joy for cycling.

However, crossing the main road at the A281 is impossible, an incredibly dangerous crossing due to the extremely busy traffic and the overgrown vegetation making it too dangerous to cross the road. This is vital information missing from the Downs Link map. Anyone new to the Downs Link path would be unaware and unprepared for how dangerous this road is.

The Council has been promoting the great outdoors, along with cycle schemes to promote wellbeing, but I actually have nowhere to cycle for a good length of time in Horsham. I don’t feel comfortable cycling on the roads with vehicles as I am deaf and partially blind in one eye. If we had a bridge over the A281 this would enable me to improve my fitness and well-being.

I disagree with WSCC’s proposal on providing Pegasus crossing on the A281. The bridge guarantees no further deaths or injuries to users of the Downs Link, a Pegasus does not.

The Downs Link bridge will guarantee a fully accessible path for all users, including people with disabilities, Deaf, Deafblind and Usher Syndrome. People in these communities might be using trikes, guide canes and other aid equipment to support them. These communities face enough barriers to being active, but providing a bridge removes any safety issues they have to using the Downs Link and they will benefit enormously from this.

For everyone’s safety, I would urge the council to build a bridge so that everyone within the local community has equal opportunities and access to be in a safe environment without the risk of being seriously injured or killed by the oncoming traffic.”

Melody Pilgrim

Horsham resident and Deaf Downs Link user