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Linking TCF to National Networks

James Cleeton, Director for the South of England from Sustrans, tells us about how the south east Dorset Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) programme links into their national programme of sustainable transport network improvements.

James Cleetonon Sml

The extensive improvements being undertaken by BCP and Dorset Councils under their Transforming Travel / TCF programme does not just affect the south east Dorset region. It also links in with wider national initiatives to improve sustainable transport infrastructure, such as our work to improve the National Cycle Network across the UK.

Sustrans is the UK walking and cycling charity and custodian of the National Cycle Network.  In 2018, we published a ground-breaking review of the entire National Cycle Network, all 16,575 miles of it. In our ‘Paths for Everyone’ report we took a good hard look at the network and were honest with ourselves in highlighting where the Network doesn't meet the high standards we have set.

The report identified 50 activation projects that we would prioritise for fix and upgrade programmes. One of the sections we identified as needing urgent improvement, was a gap in our Route 256, corresponding with Leigh Road and Wimborne Road West in Wimborne and Colehill. Route 256, known as the Castleman Trail, is a mainly traffic-free route which is popular with both leisure and commuting cyclists.

This missing section of the Castleman Trail currently runs along a busy road, creating a break in the otherwise traffic-free route. This gap created a barrier to more people using this route for leisure or to cycle to work or school. People choosing to ride a bike had to travel on the busy road – which carries around 12,600 vehicles a day – or were forced to use the verges and pavements because of concerns for their safety.

The B3073 was a busy trunk route prior to the construction of the A31 Wimborne Bypass.  The greater width from its former trunk road status means that there is plenty of room for both vehicle and cycle lanes and as the road is becoming increasingly residential, with more housing developments being built along its length, it is ideal for upgrade to a sustainable transport route.

In 2019 we began working with BCP Council and Dorset Council as a partner on their application to obtain funding from the Department for Transport Transforming Cities Fund (TCF). This resulted in the £79m grant which is now being used to part fund the design and construction of a new cycleway on Leigh Road and Wimborne Road West.  As one of our priority sections, we have also contributed to the funding of this improvement work.

The new improvements will link with the existing elements of the Castleman Trail, providing a fully segregated cycle track along Leigh Road and Wimborne Road West, filling a gap in an otherwise mostly traffic-free route. It will also link to proposed schemes on Wimborne Road West and East, Ham Lane and beyond as part of BCP and Dorset Council’s TCF funded programme. This will provide a continuous, attractive network in south east Dorset, for people to get to key destinations without having to rely on their cars.

The project also aims to reduce traffic on the busy B3073 by providing safe infrastructure for alternatives to the car and to improve travel safety and experience for everyone. It will provide a safe, sustainable transport link between residential areas, employment, leisure facilities and schools. This project will also provide a link between proposed new developments and the community and employment centres in Wimborne and Ferndown. 

It is precisely the type of project that Sustrans is pleased to be supporting and we look forward to trying it out at the end of the year.

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