Temporary emergency active travel measures introduced over the summer are being reviewed as part of a longer-term approach to improve travel across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Councillor Mike Greene, Portfolio Holder responsible for transport, BCP Council, said; “There is no doubt that congestion is the biggest barrier to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s economic prosperity. We are 100% behind the Government’s approach to tackling this and their recognition of the need to do so locally by encouraging a shift towards walking, cycling and the use of public transport.
“However, it is clear too that the Emergency Traffic Regulation Orders were introduced without consultation with those who would be affected, either directly or through the ward councillors elected to serve their residents. That the law allowed the Council to do so does not make it right to do so.
“We are committed to ensuring this is addressed in a fair and balanced way and that means we need to take the time to get the views of all road users and interest groups, not just those whose opinions align with our own.
“Our way forward will ensure an inclusive approach to future infrastructure changes: ensuring that nobody is left behind as we develop and implement plans to reduce congestion, improve air quality and support people towards healthier and more active lifestyles.
“In supporting the need for a long-term solution geared towards more active and sustainable travel options it is important to look at the bigger picture, recognising that our economy is intrinsically linked with our transport choices. A major focus of our Transforming Travel programme is to unlock a significant opportunity through better travel options: creating conditions for people to opt for sustainable transport, whilst recognising that it isn’t for everyone.
“Ward councillors know the areas they represent so we have been greatly influenced by their opinions when deciding how to proceed with the measures put in place by the previous administration. It is clear from our engagement with them that on the whole there is merit in continuing with the majority of temporary active travel measures currently on the ground, and so these trials will continue, subject to ongoing feedback from all user groups.
“However, there are some locations where temporary measures have been implemented which have caused unwelcome consequences or just do not make sense in isolation. We will suspend these whilst we engage with all user groups as part of our longer-term approach to improving congestion across the conurbation.”
BCP Council Leader Drew Mellor added:
“We have been clear that we aren’t happy that many of these schemes were previously forced through without taking into account the views of residents and local councillors. That is not how this council will work in future. That’s why I’m extremely pleased that these revised proposals put the wishes of local residents first, through their local councillors. If they are happy with the schemes, they will remain through the trial period. If they’re not, we’ve looked at changes – including removing a number of schemes.
“Ward councillors are on the ground, constantly engaging with and accountable to their residents. We might not be happy with all of the ideas but we will not dictate to people that we know best. In addition, we are looking at the wider picture when considering how our area works for those getting around.
“We will continue to listen as the trials continue.”
At Poole Quay, the closures have generally benefitted local businesses over the summer, but their representatives believe this will not be the case 365 days a year. The Council will work with them through the Poole BID (Business Improvement District) to review the timings and bring forward potential options that support local businesses during the winter months, as well as public transport providers and accessibility groups.
The road closure to motorists at Leven Avenue is proving very unpopular apart from those living within the closed roads themselves. The major obstacle to cycling on the route between Wallisdown and the Town Centre is the pinch point at the railway bridge on Glenferness Avenue. If this could be addressed then the closure of Leven Avenue might well make sense, but in isolation it provides no significant incentive to cycle. It will therefore be removed for now, with the option of reintroducing it as part of a wider scheme for the Wallisdown to Town Centre route as a whole, which we will work on as part of the Transforming Cities Fund programme.
The closure at Keyhole Bridge in Poole Park was designed to reduce potential conflict between motorists and other users. However, since implementation Ward councillors have received reports from local residents of incidents between pedestrians and cyclists and also of motorcyclists taking advantage of the closure to considerably increase their speed, causing danger to pedestrians. Work is currently being carried out on the road surface in Poole Park just beyond the bridge and this is expected to be completed during the first week in November. Keyhole Bridge will reopen to motorised traffic to coincide with the completion of that work.
The temporary scheme at Evening Hill has proved very popular with cyclists, particularly those with less confidence. It therefore seems to fit very well with the ambitions of the Council and the Government to encourage a shift towards active travel. However, it has also deprived motorists, particularly Blue Badge holders the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful views. The scheme will remain in place while consultation takes place with ward councillors and affected users as to how it can be altered to benefit cyclists while restoring the lost opportunity to other users.
The closures at Churchfield Road, Birds Hill Road, Darby’s Lane and Tatnam Road are strongly supported by the respective ward councillors. The closure at Victoria Park Road is also supported by its ward councillors as long as it is being used to provide information for potential wider schemes which might benefit the area as a whole. These closures will remain in place for the remainder of their six-month trial, subject to ongoing feedback with user groups.
Previous deferred schemes at East Overcliff Drive, and Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drives will be permanently removed from any future plans.
For further information on the council’s long-term transport strategy please visit bcpcouncil.gov.uk/transformingtravel.