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Bournemouth Borough Council rules out promenade cycle lanes as 'Prom Wars' continue

Council says that issue of how cyclists and pedestrians can safely share space on seafront is the most "divisive challenge we have"...

Bournemouth Borough Council has rejected a call for a separate cycle lane to be installed on the Dorset resort’s promenade – but acknowledges that the presence of bike riders on parts of the seafront “is perhaps the most commentated on and divisive challenge we have.”

It’s one that has resulted in cyclists being banned from some parts of the promenade year-round, and from the entire length of it from 10am to 6pm in July and August in what has been dubbed 'Prom Wars'..

Where cyclists are allowed to ride on it and share space with people on foot, they are required to give pedestrians priority. Nevertheless, there are regularly calls for the ban on cycling to be extended.

In last month’s council meeting, held on Tuesday 24, July, Conservative councillor and local hotel owner Gina Mackin suggested that the solution might lie in providing separate space for those on bikes and people on foot, reports the Bournemouth Echo.

But Councillor Pat Oakley, who holds the Tourism, Leisure & The Arts portfolio in the Conservative-controlled council’s cabinet, told her that despite examining separation a number of times, he believed the current approach was the appropriate one.

He said: “The issue of cycling on our seafront is perhaps the most commentated on and divisive challenge we have.

“The option of a cycle lane has been looked at in detail several times and has always been discounted because it would cause more conflict between cyclists and pedestrians with them both claiming their own space and would, indeed, encourage cyclists to cycle faster.

“Much of the pedestrian traffic on the promenade is across the prom – children from the beach huts to the sea and beach and so on – and implementing a route which gives cyclists the right of way will only exacerbate the current issues.

“The current system of shared space generally works well and the pedestrian has clear priority.

“The safety issue with regards to cycling is more to do with speed.”

His comments about the polarisation of opinion relating to cycling on the promenade are borne out by the number of times we have reported on the topic here at over the past decade.

In 2009, the council deployed speed guns as part of an operation designed at encouraging cyclists to ride at no more than 10 miles per hour on the prom, where there are signs advising of the speed limit.

Dozens of cyclists were stopped during the four-day operation and while the cyclists could not be fined, police officers and council officials gave them “safety advice” – something that national cyclists’ organisation CTC (now Cycling UK) described at the time as “ridiculous.”

> 69 cyclists caught in Bournemouth 'speed trap'

Lat weekend, the council temporarily lifted the ban on cycling along the promenade in the two peak summer months due to a ‘Bike To Bestival’ charity ride from the town to the festival further west along the coast in Lulworth – something that, according to this article, had “several concerned readers” contacting the Bournemouth Echo.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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