A BCP Council scheme to provide safer space for cycling and walking on Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drives, which was intended to relieve pressure on the promenade, and where concerns about speeding traffic have been a barrier to switching local journeys in that area, will be delayed to allow more time for dialogue with local residents.
The scheme was not planned to close the area to cars or prevent clifftop parking, but only to remove the through traffic. The idea was first identified at the time when our seafront was inundated with holidaymakers, and the summertime ban on promenade cycling was about to commence. It also intended to provide a route that can be used more easily by pedestrians and cyclists year round, where storms can render the promenade impassable. There have been a number of collisions involving injuries to people on bikes at junctions along the Overcliff in recent years and making roads safer as well as encouraging sustainable journeys remain a priority for the council.
Councillor Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Transport, BCP Council commented;
“As part of the response to COVID-19, it’s clear to see that the way we travel is changing, and as we head towards the new normal – going back to school and returning to workplaces – we want to support people to choose to travel more sustainably for shorter journeys. This also supports our vision is to create vibrant communities with outstanding quality of life where everyone plays an active part, and the new National Walking and Cycling Strategy.
“The Overcliff scheme has generated huge interest and concern in the local area. Whilst these travel measures are designed to be temporary and to allow time for people to give their feedback based on their experiences, it is clear we need to pause our plan for the Boscombe / Southbourne experimental traffic scheme and to seek further views from local people.
“We are keen to work with the local community on the extent and location of low-cost experimental measures in this area, and we need the views of those living, working in, and passing through the shopping areas of Southbourne Grove, Beechwood and Wentworth Avenue, Parkwood, Seabourne and Southbourne Road in order to shape a future scheme.
“We must recognise that doing nothing will not solve congestion, or deliver on our climate emergency response, and that some of the respondents were keen to see the scheme implemented. We are still keen to implement a scheme in this area.
The scheme at Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drives is in direct response to the government’s call to get more people cycling and walking as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillor Hadley, added; “The tight timescales and limited upfront consultation was mandated directly by government requirements to implement these schemes urgently to combat gridlock, and to consult over the following months.
“There are other schemes being implemented across the conurbation to support commuting, school and leisure journeys, and we are keen to ensure that the value of these is better understood.
“We will therefore also pause and consult with local people before implementing the planned measure on the railway bridge on Cleveland Road. This will mean that is not in place for the return to school this September.
“We intend to pursue the remaining schemes already in progress as part of phase one, and we had already planned that if we are successful with funding for phase two work, this would be done in a different way with early consultation given available time. A scheme for Boscombe and Southbourne will become part of that phase two work.”