A NUMBER of travel schemes are being proposed or introduced across Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch to encourage people to walk or cycle.

Hundreds of Daily Echo readers have shared their views about the active travel schemes by sending letters and posting comments on our stories in recent weeks. 

Here we look at what's planned, what's been implemented so far and why they are dividing opinion. 

What is Active Travel?

BCP Council has been indicatively awarded around £1.4million from the government’s recent emergency active travel fund to support people cycling and walking as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Funding for the emergency active travel measures is allocated in two phases, with the council having already received an initial £312,000 as part of phase one. 

A further allocation of £1.1 million is conditional on the council demonstrating its ability to adapt the BCP area’s infrastructure to support more active travel measures, and how quickly these additional measures can be delivered. 

What’s BCP Council said?

A statement on the Active Travel schemes page of the council’s website says: “We are taking action to help create a sustainable environment locally.

"We are implementing trial measures as part of a wider effort to support the safe reopening of the local economy and encourage walking and cycling following a significant increase in experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This in turn resulted in welcome reductions in traffic. These measures are funded by the government's emergency active travel fund.

“Some of these schemes are being implemented under experimental traffic regulation orders allowing residents, businesses and visitors the opportunity experience the changes and to comment on them before a decision is made on whether to make each scheme permanent.

"Under these orders, there is a very short turnaround, including seven-working days to develop and submit a programme with proposals to be installed on the ground within 12 weeks."

The schemes at a glance:

Birds Hill Road, Poole

Bournemouth Echo:

The council is introducing two Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) to create a low traffic neighbourhood:

  • Birds Hill Road will become a no-through road, with only buses and bicycles permitted to exit onto Longfleet Road.
  • Churchfield Road also becomes a no-through road with a point closure to motor traffic at its junction with Fernside Road.

The ETROs can run for up to 18 months, with a review of the changes planned for early 2021. The works are planned to be implemented the week commencing 31 August 2020.

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drives

Bournemouth Echo:

The section of Boscombe Overcliff Drive that was due to be blocked off to through motorised traffic​

A section on both Boscombe Overcliff Drive and Southbourne Overcliff Drive was due to be closed on August 24, except for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as vehicles accessing properties, businesses and parking spaces. This has now been delayed. Read more on this below. 

Darbys Lane

Bournemouth Echo:

An ETRO to prioritise cycling in Darby's Lane at the junction with Wimborne Road from the week of August 17 with a review of the changes planned for early 2021.

Evening Hill

Bournemouth Echo:

A trial protected cycle lane up Evening Hill. The trial started on July 14 and will be in place for six months, with a review in early 2021.

Poole Quay/Lower High Street

Bournemouth Echo:

An ETRO to prioritise walking and cycling on the Quay, the Lower High Street and Paradise Street from June 27 until December 27. The following roads are closed to all motor traffic: The Quay (between Thames Street and the mini roundabout at the end of Old Orchard), High Street (from the junction with Castle Street down to The Quay), Castle Street (the first 10 metres north of the Quay) and Paradise Street.

Windham Road and Cleveland Road

Bournemouth Echo:

Two Experimental Traffic Orders to close Windham Road for a distance of 10m at its junction with Ashley Road, and also Cleveland Road will be closed to motor vehicles over the railway bridge between Windham Road and St Clements Road.  Plans have now been delayed on the Cleveland Road project. Read more on this below. 

Stanley Green Road 

Bournemouth Echo:

Stanley Green Road will see closures implemented at three junctions, with through traffic prevented on Tatnam Road, Wimborne Road and on the one-way section westbound at Vicarage Road. From August 21, 2020 until March 7, 2021. 

Victoria Park Road

Bournemouth Echo:

An experimental junction closure will be implemented on Victoria Park Road, between the junctions with Oates Road and Namu Road.  Implemented the week commencing August 17, 2020. The ETRO can run for up to 18 months, with a review of the changes planned for early 2021.

Whitecliff Road

Bournemouth Echo:

Whitecliff Road will be closed to all motor traffic at Keyhole Bridge to prioritise walking and cycling in the area. The closure applies to motorised traffic only, so people will still be able to walk and cycle under Keyhole Bridge. Works were due to be implemented the week commencing August 17. The council will undertake a review after six months.

What’s happened so far?

Council leaders have already delayed plans to block off stretches of Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drive to motorised traffic following a backlash from residents, opposition councillors and the hospitality industry.

The changes have been put on hold to allow more time for “dialogue with local residents”.

The local authority has also delayed plans to close off Cleveland Road between Windham Road and St Clement’s Road for motor vehicles due to growing concerns before the scheme had even been publicised.

BCP Council abandoned a scheme which would have involved East Overcliff Drive being blocked between its junctions with Manor Road and Meyrick Road after a backlash from hoteliers.

Councillor Andy Hadley said hotels’ concerns were “understood” and that it was “simply not the time” for the measure to be introduced.

What have council leaders said?

BCP Council's transport portfolio holder Andy Hadley wrote in a letter to the Daily Echo: "We have been working flat out with the staff to deliver meaningful change to support people who walk and cycle at these locations."

In a statement announcing the decision to delay the overcliff schemes, he said: "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."

Cllr Hadley added: "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."

Why are the schemes controversial?

Some residents have raised concerns about roads being closed off to traffic and creating rat runs elsewhere.

Concerns have also been raised about attempts to stop councillors from sharing information about active travel schemes being put forward by BCP Council.

Emails sent to councillors with details of projects planned in their wards have all asked that the information be kept “confidential”.

Councillor Drew Mellor, the leader of the Conservative opposition, said it amounted to “banning” councillors from discussing proposals with the public.

Anything else? 

Future schemes include an experimental closure in Leven Avenue for all motor traffic to prioritise walking and cycling, between the junctions of Benellen Avenue and Walsford Road.

On Glenferness Avenue, a protected cycle lane will be installed using flexible bollards installed to separate and protect users from motor traffic, and also discourage cycling on the pavement, providing a safer route for all.