A FORMER Professor of transport planning has urged Bournemouth council to reconsider its “foolish” decision to allow cycling in the Square and at Pier Approach.

Norman Ashford, a Professor Emeritus at Loughborough University, said he was “appalled” to learn of the trial and believes it could prove dangerous.

“It is astonishing now to find that the council members have decided to allow cyclists to ride across the Square and the Pier Approach,” he said. “These are the very busiest areas of pedestrian activity in the town.

“The injection of cycle traffic cannot be justified in these areas. To state that pedestrians will be given right of way is a vacuous suggestion, which simply ignores the dangers that these changes in regulation will incur.

“The council has ventured into an area where insufficient thought has been given to the resultant consequences that will lower the quality of life for the vast majority of residents and visitors to give some minor advantage to a very small percentage of the population.”

Professor Ashford, who lives in Bath Road, Bournemouth, spent 25 years as Professor of Transport Planning.

His role included supervising research into the planning of the pedestrian area of the market town of Loughborough and chairing two conferences in Cambridge where the matter of keeping cyclists separate from pedestrians was discussed in length.

“Cycles were considered to present a real danger to elderly and frail pedestrians and to children,” he said. “The whole idea of pedestrianising an area is to give a sense of safety and security to those in age groups that are not comfortable or considered safe in the presence of mixed pedestrian and wheeled traffic.

“I would urge Bournemouth Town Council to think hard and think again before initiating this foolish action.”

Councillor Michael Filer, portfolio holder for Transport, said: “What the council is doing is proposing to regularise the current status of cycling in the Square where historically some parts are permitted to be used by cyclists and always have been.

“By introducing a 12-month trial we are looking to confirm that careful and considerate cyclists are welcome to use this space alongside other users. Pedestrians retain priority in the Square, as is common practice in shared spaces across the UK.

“A date for the start of the trial has yet to be determined but will be made public in advance.”