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“Frustrating” cycle lane parking getting worse, says councillor – in town where Daily Mail claimed motorists were being driven “off the road”

“It’s all very well spending all this money implementing cycle lanes, but if people can’t use them, what’s the point?”

A local councillor has called for a meeting to address the growing problem of motorists parking on a cycle lane in the centre of Boscombe – less than a year after the Daily Mail asked if there was “any room left for cars” in the Bournemouth suburb.

Independent councillor Andy Jones has asked for a meeting with Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council’s portfolio holder for sustainability and transport, Mike Greene, to discuss what he describes as the “ongoing abuse” of the cycle lane on the A35 Christchurch Road, which Jones says has been the subject of “consistent complaints” from residents.

The councillor told the Bournemouth Daily Echo that the situation on Christchurch Road – where cars are regularly photographed parked on the road’s painted cycle lane or on the pavement – has worsened since he first raised the issue with Greene in July last year.

In recent months, several local cyclists have campaigned for BCP Council to clamp down on illegal parking in Boscombe, by posting countless images and videos of pavement and bike lane blocking motorists on Twitter.

“We need zero tolerance on this: pavement parking, on cycle lanes/paths, on double yellows. It just encourages others when there’s no discernible deterrent and puts all other road users at risk,” one cyclist said last month.

“It’s really frustrating, which is why I’ve asked for a meeting with councillor Greene on site, along with councillor [George] Farquhar to try and work out a way forward,” Jones told the Daily Echo this week.

“It’s all very well spending all this money implementing cycle lanes, which of course is a good thing, but if people can’t use them, what’s the point?”

> 'Cycle lane parking puts lives at risk': Cyclist's sticker justice for bike lane van driver

The councillor continued: “Personally, I think there should be cameras there, I’ve made that clear to [councillor Greene] before.

“Unless we’re going to tackle it by enforcement, or provide some sort of protection by bollards or similar, I can’t really see how we’re ever going to resolve the issue.”

Boscombe resident Dean Hawthorne, who last July described the scale of the illegal parking in the area as “an accident waiting to happen”, keeps a record of the number of motorists blocking the cycle lane on the Christchurch Road – a phenomenon he says he witnesses “every time” he drives down the road.

Hawthorne argues that, by allowing drivers to clog up the town’s bike lanes, an opportunity has been missed to improve Boscombe’s cycling infrastructure and to combat pollution.

“They’ve put something in place that isn’t working for a number of reasons. There is a legitimate reason why we need to encourage more people to cycle,” he said.

“I don’t even own a bike; I drive a van. On paper I’m the cyclist’s nightmare, but I’m not, I can see the absolute benefits of having decent cycling infrastructure.”

> Large bike symbols painted on middle of Bournemouth lanes to encourage cyclists to ride in primary position – and motorists aren’t happy

These calls for investment in, and the protection and proper enforcement of, Boscombe’s cycling infrastructure come less than a year after the council’s decision to paint bicycle symbols on the area’s roads – to encourage cyclists to take a “prominent” position – caused something of a meltdown in the national press.

The freshly painted symbols, which have been in use in the UK since 1975, prompted the Mail and Daily Telegraph to claim that cyclists in Boscombe were being encouraged to “ignore” the town’s dedicated bike lane – the one currently inundated with parked cars.

“Cyclists are being encouraged by council officials to ignore a dedicated cycle path and use a busy main road instead in an attempt to force traffic in the town centre to slow down,” the Mail wrote last May.

“Although cyclists have the use of the 7ft wide bike lane alongside the A35 in Bournemouth, Dorset, large bike symbols have been painted on the main road as well.”

The newspaper then described the markings as the “latest move by the authorities to drive cars off the road” and included in their headline the question: “Is there any room left for cars?”

Meanwhile, the Telegraph quoted readers who claimed that the new markings “made the bike lane redundant while making cyclists think ‘they own the road’.”

> Bike lane meltdown: New road markings prompt Mail to ask, “is there any room left for cars?”

Responding to the latest call for action concerning the spate of bike lane parkers in Boscombe, a BCP Council spokesperson said that the local authority is aware of the ongoing issues and that worried residents can report incidents directly to them.

“To address the issue our parking enforcement team is stepping up additional visits to these area as part of their daily patrols,” the spokesperson said.

“We will continue to patrol Christchurch Road on a daily basis to deter drivers from parking in contravention and to enforce penalty charge notices to drivers that do not comply.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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