Most would agree that three metres is not especially long for a bike path, but impressively this is not the worst quality of just such piece of cycling infrastructure in the New Forest. Hampshire County Council are reviewing a new ‘cycle by-pass’ in Brockenhurst after receiving a complaint that it directed cyclists straight towards parked cars.
Located on the junction of Lymington Road and Brookley Road, just across from the Cyclexperience bike shop, the short stretch of bike path was intended to make life slightly easier for cyclists turning left. Photographs on the Bournemouth Echo website make it clear these lofty ambitions sadly weren’t met.
A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said the ‘cycle by-pass’ was constructed in April of this year at a cost of £6,253 “as part of a number of a schemes to improve accessibility for cyclists in Brockenhurst.”
An unnamed New Forest resident told the newspaper:
"My understanding is that this was one of a number of cycle infrastructure schemes identified by consultants working on behalf of Hampshire County Council in February 2014.
"This particular scheme has introduced a short section, approximately 3m, of dedicated cycling infrastructure at the entrance/exit to Brockenhurst station. Whilst the short length of the cycle route is of concern, the main issue seems to be that cyclists using the route are placed on a collision course with vans and cars legally parked on Brookley Rd.
"I am as convinced as I can be that no cyclist was involved in the design or implementation of this scheme, and would question how it has been approved from a safety perspective.”
The man cited the cost of the work and where the money had come from as being additional concerns. “I understand that the scheme was funded by the National Park Authority using grant funding from the Department for Transport, funding which the National Park Authority originally applied for to deliver a public bike share scheme."
In 2013, The New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) was awarded a £3.6 million grant, £2 million of which was originally intended for a cycle hire scheme in the national park. The NFNPA abandoned that proposal, despite having spent £84,000 on a feasibility study and selecting a preferred supplier.
It was subsequently told to hand back £1.5 million of the money after the Department for Transport (DfT) rejected two other schemes it had planned to spend the money on. One of those, accounting for £1.25 million, was criticised as being more focused on road maintenance than on cycling.