Whitecliff Park walking and cycling improvements
A popular route for people walking and cycling through Poole will benefit from some major improvements this year.
From Spring 2022, BCP Council will be enhancing the harbourside path from Turks Lane to the existing path leading to Baiter Skatepark at Whitecliff. This will see a safer separated cycle path introduced, freeing up the existing shared path for pedestrians. This will create a safer environment for those travelling on foot or by bike, enhancing the experience of the many people who use the park every day to get to work, school or for leisure.
Focusing on a key connecting route between Poole Town Centre and neighbouring residential areas, the scheme will be complemented by two North/South links connecting to Whitecliff Road as well as an alternate shared path route to using Turks Lane.
This scheme will be delivered in a number of phases.
Phase 1 Spring to Summer
From Monday 28 March, we will begin constructing two new protected spaces for pedestrians and cyclists entering or exiting Whitecliff Park from Turks Lane. With a second contractor starting on the new cycle path in early April.
We are working in the summer months because the works are next to the Poole Harbour Ramsar and Special Protection area site. Our Habitat Regulation Assessment(HRA) identified that work should be restricted to months of the year that were least likely to cause disturbance to the habitat.
We will work with our contributors to limit the disruption as much as possible for all park users.
The HRA is a requirement of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
Phase 2 Winter
Further improvements within the park will take place outside of Spring and Summer to allow people to enjoy the park to the fullest during peak seasons.
From Winter we will commence works on the separated paths alongside the water edge. Phase two works outside of the park will also include two new crossings over Labrador Drive and Furnell Road.
These works are to be delivered under the council’s accessibility funding from the Department of Transport though the councils Local Transport Plan.
Phase 3 - Future improvements
Further improvements to the area are also planned, subject to future funding approval. This aims to continue the separated cycleway and footpath through to Baiter Park, linking it with the wider cycle network towards the town centre.
You said, we did
Last year, we ran a public consultation on plans to create a safer environment at Whitecliff for those cycling or walking this route.
Over three-quarters of respondents taking part in our consultation agreed with the proposed improvements.
The council has also listened to views expressed and has amended the positioning of the cycle route and the separation of the footpath.
The full consultation results are available to view online.
About the route
The selected route running around the water’s edge follows the National Cycle Network route 25 (NCN25) and is a well-established leisure route for many cyclists. Alternate routes were considered through the park, but it was essential to be sympathetic to the green space and still provide waterfront access for all users.
The decision as to which side the footpath and cycle path should be was based upon the majority view from the public consultation. The cycle path is on the park side because this option had a 20% greater level of support from all users.
The proposed design has been developed to separate both people walking and cycling along the route. In terms of using the route for a high-speed commute, we found that only 9% of respondents are using this route for commuting, compared to 70% who used it for pleasure or exercise.
Speed limits on paths like these are not enforceable as most cycles do not have a speedometer. We are working with our parks department on signs that will encourage considerate behaviour by all users. We will monitor the use of the new facility once completed and our equipment enables us to count users and observe speeds.
The gate near Keyhole Bridge is being removed as it presents access restrictions to mobility scooters, wheelchairs and those on bikes. We will also be widening this entry point to the park to align with all other access points.
The barriers between Whitecliff and Baiter Park are a precaution because of deterioration in the water channel underneath the park, that runs from Poole Park Lake to Parkstone Bay. The channel controls water levels in the lake. Our parks department is looking into replacing the structure and re-opening the area.
Selecting this route over other proposals
Some respondents suggested an alternate route alongside the railway from Whitecliff Road to the Skate Park path. However this route would have required all users to use Whitecliff Road and its busy junction with Sandbanks Road. Many potential cyclists on this route are children or less confident riders, so sharing the route with motorists was less attractive. This alternate route also posed parking issues and steeper gradients.
There were also requests for the route to follow the railway, then run along the northern edge of the park. This route would have gone alongside the children’s play area, past the pavilion and through the carpark or then returned to Whitecliff Road. This route would have created the same conflicts that exist along the current paths, while not providing a link along the desired route for most users, and therefore requiring the existing route to remain shared.
For both these alternate options, the desire to use the water’s edge as part of the NCN25 would have remained. Subsequently, the existing path running along the water’s edge could not have been diverted, meaning that this existing path would have had to remain a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists. This wouldn't have addressed any of the comments identified in the consultation. Pedestrians would likely be attracted to this alternate path, and therefore have repeated the same issues with the current path.
Changes on Turks Lane
There are no cycle lanes proposed on Turks Lane, however we will be introducing two new protected access points for park users to see around any parked vehicles.
These access points will be located at either end of the existing parking area. To provide these safe crossing spaces, parking will be reduced from around 27 spaces to 25.
National Cycle Routes 2 and 25 both run along sections of the BCP area’s coastline with route 25 running along the proposed route through Whitecliff park. The improved cycleway at Whitecliff will form part of providing an improved connection between the two routes along the edge of Poole Harbour.
This initiative will complement our wider Transforming Travel programme and declared climate and ecological emergency. It will also support the council Big Plan ambitions for improving local travel and creating an environment where the use of public transport, cycling and walking become more attractive travel choices.
BCP Council was awarded £1.1 million from the second tranche of the active travel funds. In line with the bid submitted to Government, a portion of this funding has been used to engage with residents on the proposed changes and introduce a fully separated cycleway through the Whitecliff area.
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