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Those pop-up cycle lanes - a despatch from the front-line

Every day in the Letters section of the Southern Echo or Bournemouth Echo, another “poor little me” letter from the motoring fraternity, saying “aren’t the cycle lanes terrible” (Southampton) or isn’t the pedestrianisation awful, killing the shops (E.g. Poole, New Milton).

I for one am fed-up with being barged out of the way by cars - thanks, Green Cross Man, etc. Why should anyone have to put up with it? 50 years of dominance - enough. It’s not OK that it’s “too dangerous” for the kids to make their own way to/from school, a friend’s, or a club.

My first non-food shopping trip since March today - Romsey’s Main Street Is Pedestrianised - if I was a trader, that’s where I’d want to be; the admittedly lesser shopping streets looked and felt tatty, compared. The future of non-food is now more than ever all about the shopping experience. Scruffy car park, No/smelly loos, grotty environment - why bother?

Maybe we’re turning the corner on the pop-ups - it feels like there’s now quite a few of us now challenging each letter, a couple of letters praising them have also come in. No-one wants to answer “what’s the alternative?” there is Some acceptance that cycling infrastructure is good/necessary - albeit not here, thanks; or yes, if it means drivers (the important ones in life) still get the lion’s share.

“I saw a cyclist do something bad - it was just before Christmas.”

My concern is that the sun is out and there doesn’t seem to be the use of the pop-ups by cyclists.

But the other arguments raised are looking increasingly hollow and contradictory. Increased congestion, more pollution, access for the elderly/ infirm (very happy to see that provided - next), cyclists everywhere/no cyclists. It’s mildly amusing to see someone build their own construct (“you want us to all go back to the dark ages”) and then proceed to argue against it.

Mildly amusing too when they’ve clearly strained the imagination sarcastically to describe some aspect of sustainable living (e.g. huh, we’ll all go to our local jobs, schooling, receive primary care) to say “yep, that could work”. I get that for some people the van is a way of life, a livelihood - it’s not all going to change overnight.

I find the “what about the special school minibuses?” and the “the pollution will only get worse, you know” arguments to be in pretty poor taste, but that’s desperation for you.

Southampton Council is Labour run, and I think what they’ve done so far has taken a fair bit of political courage; elections are in May 2021, so I hope that’s not a re-run of 2016/Brexit where sensible people fail to turn out. I hope they don’t go weak at the knees meantime.

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