A FIREFIGHTER said he can’t get his fire engine down Whitelegg Way due to the council’s two new cycle lanes.

BCP Council has been moving forward with plans for its sustainable travel programme, involving improvement work across the conurbation which includes new cycle ways, pedestrian crossing improvements and shared use footways.

However, speaking at a public event on the Wimborne Road scheme held at the Longfleet Baptist Church, a fire officer at Redhill Fire Station said the new cycle lanes in Whitelegg Way prevented him from taking a fire engine to Ferndown.

He said: “Usually cars can part, even if it means bumping up on the curb, the curbs are massive now so they can’t do that.

“We are stuck in traffic and there’s no alternative to get to Ferndown.

“I spoke to a councillor and they gave a stock answer saying they have done the research.

“It holds us up by a few minutes and for a fire that is a long time.”

The fire officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said the future is electric cars and not everyone cycling and questioned whether the plans were future-proof.

This was a message echoed by a cyclist who said the raised, two-way cycle lanes were “pitting cyclists against drivers”.

A spokesperson for BCP Council said: “Once Whitelegg Way reopens at the end of this month, the carriageway will be between 6.4m and 6.6m wide, adhering to current national standards set by the Department for Transport. It will continue to be able to be used safely by all vehicles, including fire engines, and has undergone, and will continue to undergo a number of independent road safety audits.

“The Transforming Cities Fund programme team are working with the emergency vehicle operators, including Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, and have received no objections.

“The sustainable travel improvements along Whitelegg Way form one section of a continuous 13km sustainable travel link that will eventually run between Merley and Christchurch, creating alternative travel options, particularly for short journeys along this route. The improvements will help reduce traffic congestion by offering safe, fast, and reliable active travel choices. Reduced congestion will also help improve emergency service response times.”

The spokesperson added that the curb size was “standard” and only seem higher as the road has not been resurfaced yet.

Station Manager Matt Kiddell said: “All of our crews are fully aware of the roadworks in Whitelegg Road, and the diversion route has not caused us any issues. Even when the new cycleways are fully operational, the road will still be accessible to emergency vehicles. In addition, our Control room is also aware of all on-going roadworks across the Service area, and can adjust how they mobilise appliances if required.”