Roads could be made narrower in warning to drivers as cycle lane row explodes – 'a mess!'

The chairman of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council has said roads could be narrowed further if motorists do not drive more carefully. The roads in the council’s constituency have already been made narrower to make space for cyclists.

An office worker spoke to the Daily Echo about the new cycle lane, saying: “For something so wide there is far less bike traffic than you would expect.

“You just don’t see the volume of cyclists it was designed for.

“The whole thing looks unsightly and a mess.”

Another motorist, who works at a nearby Territorial Army base, also criticised the plan. He added: “Several people have already driven out of the barracks and almost hit cyclists because they don’t realise it’s a cycle lane as there is a lack of markings or signage.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We are pleased to see the improvements are supported by our local walking and cycling forum.

“Our most recent monitoring on this section of Wallisdown Road has already recorded an increase in cycling of almost 40 percent on weekdays between September and October with a weekday average of 337 cyclists using the cycle lanes.

“The Wallisdown corridor improvements aim to improve safety and encourage more people to walk or cycle in the area.

“The carriageway will be between 6.4m and 6.6m wide, adhering to current national standards set by the Department for Transport for the provision of safer roads for walking and cycling whilst maintaining enough space for larger vehicles such as HGVs and buses.

“It will continue to be able to be used safely by all vehicles, including fire engines and will continue to undergo a number of independent road safety audits.

“The cycle tracks are defined with sloping kerbs which will allow general vehicles to occasionally drive onto the cycle track and offer safe and quick passage of emergency vehicles.”

Nigel Hedges, the council’s chairman, also commented on the initiative, issuing a warning to drivers: “If people keep having accidents, they are going to keep narrowing the roads so that motorists can’t hurt anyone – these cycle lanes are keeping cyclists safe from the traffic.”

Marc Lohez, a spokesperson for local campaign group BH Active Travel, is also in favour of the cycle lane, and of creating more like it.

He said: “There’s been a great deal of chatter about this one. Yes they may look wide, but the lanes are built to the new guidelines from the Department for Transport.

“It’s 100 percent true that they are not being used to capacity – much like our roads 30 years ago.

“This is what a cycle lane should look like, not some token bit of paint and is designed to new guidelines in order to keep people safe – the number one reason why most don’t cycle more often.

“Correct width lanes can accommodate higher levels of users and also things like tricycles and adapted wheelchairs, more often than not consigned to riding the gutter line.

“The lane itself may appear empty because of several reasons. It takes time for people to change their habits being one, but the main being our network simply isn’t finished. Once connected at either end and beyond expect to see numbers greatly increase.”

Mr Lohez added: “Also, with the new cycle to work limits being raised to include e-bikes this should help, as people see cycling as not only healthier and greener, but also a much cheaper way of getting about without having to be super fit.

“We’re not cyclists. We’re residents that walk, wheelchair and cycle. Our group is for active travel in any form, which includes cycling.

“Stating the former makes us sound like a solely pro-bike group, which instantly creates a divide.”