PLANS to install a protected cycle lane up Evening Hill in Poole have begun, with cycling and watersports communities clashing over the project.

The measure is part of BCP Council plan to improve cycling in the area as part of the Department for Transport Emergency Active Travel Fund scheme.

Although cyclists are in favour of the new scheme, Watersports enthusiasts have expressed their anger at the proposal due to the lack of consultation and the reduces access they will get to the public slipway.

Former national windsurfing champion and Poole resident Guy Cribb said: “The car parking at Evening Hill is primarily used for water sports activity, since this is the best public access to Poole Harbour for windsurfing and Stand Up Paddleboards.

“The car park is also used by locals to visit the beauty spot and benefit of the picnic tables and benches with one of the greatest views of the harbour.

“Not everyone is able to cycle there though, and although I’d encourage outdoor activity, many people enjoy evenings with family and friends here and indeed, for disabled people, this is one of the best local beauty spots due it it's easy direct access.

“By removing this car park, and therefore removing access for water sports enthusiasts, limiting use of the public slipway, discriminating against people unable to visit by bicycle.

As part of their proposal, BCP claimed to have used data from a cycling website called WidenMyPath where 22 cyclists had suggested a bike lane in this area.

Since the announcement of the cycle lane, it has become the single biggest campaign across the UK on the WidenMyPath website.

There are now 610 people requesting Evening Hill car park remains open to provide access to the variety of local amenities, as opposed to 80 cyclists suggesting its closure.

Guy Cribb added: “I believe is a grave mistake from BCP, rushed into for the sole purpose of accelerating government funding, with little or no thought for anyone except cyclists.

“BCP have stated they only had seven days to make their bid for Government funding and they've taken it without enough research.

“Seems to me they wanted as much Government funding as possible at all costs and sadly have not taken the bigger picture into account on this occasion.”

However, many cyclists are relieved about the new plans, saying it will greatly iprove the safety of cyclists and help to link the number two cycling route.

A life-long commuting cyclist from Broadstone said: “Evening Hill is part of the National Cycling Network route 2 and deserves some much-needed attention from BCP.

“When busy, it is often dangerous riding up that hill even for an experienced rider. I tend to avoid it when it is if I'm honest.

“BCP are responding sensibly to Government guidelines, ultimately putting the safety of some people over the convenience of others.

“If people are serious about climate change, helping people move to more active forms of travel due to Covid-19, the council has to make the most cost-effective changes to do that.”