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Councillor defends closing park "rat-run" to drivers to promote cycling and address "challenge" of "dominance of the car"

"We don't have an anti-car agenda... there is a challenge on our roads about the dominance of the car... [they're] getting bigger and there's more of them"...

A councillor has urged locals to respect the consultation process and "see how the trial progresses" amid noise and protests from an outspoken group of residents unhappy at the decision to close a "rat-run" through a park in order to promote a safer environment for cyclists and walkers. 

Councillor Andy Hadley, BCP Council's portfolio holder for the environment, insisted the council does not have an "anti-car agenda" but there is a "challenge on our roads about the dominance of the car" with vehicles "getting bigger and more of them".

From 17 January, a road through Poole Park, in the Dorset town, has been closed to through-traffic, preventing rat-running drivers using the heritage listed park in a conservation area as a cut-through near Sandbanks, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the country.

The trial period is running for four-weeks while public opinion is gauged, the park still accessible for drivers, but not as a through-route, BCP Council believing it will "create safer routes for people walking, wheeling and cycling" and tackle noise and air pollution.

And while cllr Hadley told the Mail that during the first weeks of the trial he had heard from residents who have said the "closure has transformed the park", with people "saying how nice it is to hear birdsong in the park and how nice it is to be able to let their dogs off the lead", there is also an outspoken portion of the community, particularly on social media, expressing vocal opposition to not being able to drive through the park.

Much of the rhetoric mirrors what has been heard up and down the country during the debates about active travel schemes, low-traffic neighbourhoods, 15-minute cities, ULEZ and more.

Poole Park (Google Maps)

Some have claimed not being able to use the park as a through-route means congestion has built up elsewhere, Bob Lister, the co-founder of the Friends of Poole Park group, calling it a "madcap idea that will be a disaster if this becomes permanent".

One resident angered by the decision said: "Previously we have easily and safely used the park road to get to Sandbanks Road and Shore Road. Now we have to squeeze into the queue of traffic waiting to get to the Civic Centre and then have to join a long queue taking it in turns to go through the railway bridge along Sandbanks Road.

"So, more irritation, more delay, potentially more accidents, and more petrol being used up as we wait in stationary cars to navigate these blockages. So much for cutting the carbon footprint. In the meantime the park is nearly empty and a perfectly good road to avoid these pressure points has been blocked off.

> How to save a Low Traffic Neighbourhood: Overcoming hecklers, "dodgy" data, and political intrigue as councillors prevent early scrapping of active streets trial

"I can't imagine the chaos which will occur in the summer when festivals and other events which go on in the park try to contend with a system that only allows one exit point for all vehicles."

Another added: "I live on the other side of the park and now have an added five miles to my daily commute to work. Now traffic can't go through the park and the roads round it are gridlocked at the busiest times of the day."

A picture posted on a Facebook group protesting the decision showed one protester stood at the road closure with a sign asking if it is a "sinister agenda" and stating "we do not consent" below a list of projects that included: 15-minute cities, 20 mph speed limits, ULEZ, LTN, and "blocking roads".

Poole Park protest (Facebook/Julie Allen)

However, in his comments mentioned earlier, cllr Hadley insisted there is no "anti-car agenda", while pro-cycling group BH Active Travel has championed the potential "environmental improvements" and benefits to "health and wellbeing".

Lucie Allen, chair of BH Active Travel, said: "We firmly believe that parks should be safe, open green spaces for people to use, whether that be for recreation, leisure, or quiet contemplation. It's always amazed me that commuters are allowed to cut through the park, particularly during the end of the school day and rush hour, effectively using the park as a rat-run to avoid congestion on the road network.

> Richmond Park reopens to rat-running drivers after almost five months of car-free roads

"Closing one of the exits will reduce the amount of through traffic, while still allowing visitors who need to drive there, the ability to drive in, park up and enjoy its amenities. Bournemouth's park users have benefitted from both Meyrick and Kings parks being car-free. We are not quite there yet with Poole Park, but this is a very positive step in the right direction."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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34 comments

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 2 months ago
18 likes

Just need to have the backbone to see it through and the noise will die down.

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BournemouthStorm | 2 months ago
17 likes

The park is a much more pleasant place to visit now now the through traffic has been stopped. All areas of the park are still accessible by car. Unfortunately many of the vocal opponents, oppose any local active travel schemes improvements. It does not help when the local Poole Conservatives encourage people to protest against this scheme, with the local MP Sir Robert Syms attending a protest. All the local prospective Conservative Cllr at the last local election actively campaigned on an anti active agenda, with many losing seats. If we can't challenge car dominance in a park of all places, then that does not bode well for the future.

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eburtthebike replied to BournemouthStorm | 2 months ago
7 likes

But if the people opposing active travel lose their seats, that can't be bad.

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PedalManiac | 2 months ago
0 likes

These schemes are always wrapped in fabricatred issues and perjorative terms like 'rat runner'. Are cyclists therefore 'mice-runners'? The noise and pollution claims are risible. Cars are very quiet and clean. The agenda is anti-car and the councillor immediately contradicted himself to confirm it. Cycling should not be a comfortable home for those seeking to sow division and hatred on the roads.

 
 

 

 

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chrisonabike replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
7 likes

PedalManiac wrote:

These schemes are always wrapped in fabricatred issues and perjorative terms like 'rat runner'. Are cyclists therefore 'mice-runners'? The noise and pollution claims are risible. Cars are very quiet and clean. ...

That's true, I used to own a few and most made very little noise.  Some did, they were the kind you could pull backwards and they would scuttle forwards under the table like running rats or mice.  Brilliant!

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Bungle_52 replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
4 likes

PedalManiac wrote:

 Cars are very quiet and clean

Obviously you were not around during lockedown when for the second time in my lifetime it really was quiet and clean. The first time was during my chldhood in the 50s. Unfortunately we will never experience that again.

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ktache replied to Bungle_52 | 2 months ago
3 likes

Sundays in the 70s.

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eburtthebike | 2 months ago
15 likes

It's a park, not a through road.  Presumably those same drivers would object if people started wandering freely, walking their dogs, throwing frisbees on the main road.  What do you mean, it isn't the same thing?

Well done to the council for standing up to the bullies.

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PedalManiac replied to eburtthebike | 2 months ago
0 likes

Where does it say a park cannot be driven through? The park has a road. There is plenty of room left over for other activities.

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chrisonabike replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
10 likes

I used to take a car to the park and nobody complained!

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Clem Fandango replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
6 likes

Umm... check out the photo above maybe?

Pretty sure that collection of characters says "closed to through traffic"

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Shake | 2 months ago
16 likes

How does that add 5 miles to their journey. The park road is only half a mile long and there is a road that runs parallel 

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mark1a replied to Shake | 2 months ago
10 likes

Shake wrote:

How does that add 5 miles to their journey. The park road is only half a mile long and there is a road that runs parallel 

It doesn't really, probably adds a mile or less. I know that area really well and there's next to nothing in it. In fact, when driving, I would never go through the park anyway, it's not really suited to motorised through traffic due to width, traffic calming, etc. It's actually easier going Sandbanks Road/Parkstone Road and around the Civic Centre, although that's sometimes gets congested. The only way the commute mentioned could increase by 5 miles is if it's go to work, home for lunch, back to work, home again.

 

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Shake replied to mark1a | 2 months ago
8 likes

I'm a local too, hi. I suspect with the traffic calming that already exists (including the narrow keyhole bridge) it would be quicker to just go via the main road anyway. 

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belugabob | 2 months ago
25 likes

During our Christmas break in Dorset, we visited the Poole/Bournemouth/Sandbanks area, and found ourselves using the road that the park cut through avoids.
Allowing for the fact that I wasn't familiar with the area, and it was a quiet day, I can see why people would want to avoid that road - but rat running through a park isn't the answer.
I wonder if people will begin to see the unsustainability of car ownership growth, before I retire...

Kudos to the councillor for having both vision and bravery.

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PedalManiac replied to belugabob | 2 months ago
0 likes

Nobody is a 'rat runner'. It should be added to the list of unacceptable perjoratives used against any group of people and treated accordingly. A route is a route. The objectors to cars are using the same tired lies ablout nloise and pollution.

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chrisonabike replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
5 likes
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cmedred replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
14 likes

Do you have the trolling permit required to post here with such nonsense?

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Clem Fandango replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
12 likes

Great story.

But the councillor is correct about the generational dominance of cars, which let's not forget, are the invasive species on our roads.  Cars are a growing problem (in more than one sense) and endlessley giving over public space to them is not the answer I'm afraid.  It is inevitable that some minor inconvenience is going to be encountered by the motorist, just seems like a vocal minority can't live with any degree of personal inconvenience or (horror) change.

"A picture posted on a Facebook group protesting the decision showed one protester.."   says it all really

   

 

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chrisonabike replied to Clem Fandango | 2 months ago
12 likes

Don't forget also that environmental noise is increasingly recognised as a major source of stress, with real health consequences.  And currently the major source of that is motor traffic on the roads.

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Simon E replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
8 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

Don't forget also that environmental noise is increasingly recognised as a major source of stress, with real health consequences.  And currently the major source of that is motor traffic on the roads.

It is often ignored and many people can 'blank it out'. I can't and find it stressful. I dread to think what it is like living beside a clogged city route every day.

"Traffic noise has been flagged as a major physiological stressor, second to air pollution and on roughly equal footing with exposure to second-hand smoke and radon."

From https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210315-why-noise-pollution-is-bad-f...

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jul/19/light-and-noise-poll...

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Eton Rifle replied to Simon E | 2 months ago
8 likes
Simon E wrote:

chrisonabike wrote:

Don't forget also that environmental noise is increasingly recognised as a major source of stress, with real health consequences.  And currently the major source of that is motor traffic on the roads.

It is often ignored and many people can 'blank it out'. I can't and find it stressful. I dread to think what it is like living beside a clogged city route every day.

"Traffic noise has been flagged as a major physiological stressor, second to air pollution and on roughly equal footing with exposure to second-hand smoke and radon."

From https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210315-why-noise-pollution-is-bad-f...

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jul/19/light-and-noise-poll...

I moved from a Bristol suburb to a Wl
Welsh village just over a year ago - chalk and cheese. I remember phoning my wife on the first night I spent in the Bristol house and saying "You just hear traffic noise all the time".

Looking back on it, it was fucking awful - just CONSTANT noise. Chavs with bean tin "exhausts" on their Saxos, "modified" mopeds that made a ghastly racket.

Want to eat or spend time in your garden? Forget it

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chrisonabike replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
3 likes

I found a suitable rat-runner for you!

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Eton Rifle replied to PedalManiac | 2 months ago
8 likes
PedalManiac wrote:

Nobody is a 'rat runner'. It should be added to the list of unacceptable perjoratives used against any group of people and treated accordingly. A route is a route. The objectors to cars are using the same tired lies ablout nloise and pollution.

Is Boo back again? We're meant to be ignoring this cunt, right?

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chrisonabike replied to Eton Rifle | 2 months ago
4 likes

Apologies, I was hunting the snark... I'll go for a ride on a Sturmey 3-speed and let it go.

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hutchdaddy | 2 months ago
21 likes

It's a park, they should have cut off traffic years ago.

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essexian | 2 months ago
19 likes

Loving the look of Agenda 2030.  I see NOTHING the loony in the hat is highlighting to object to. 

Where do I sign up? 

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andystow replied to essexian | 2 months ago
16 likes

essexian wrote:

Loving the look of Agenda 2030.  I see NOTHING the loony in the hat is highlighting to object to. 

Where do I sign up? 

Exactly! Don't threaten me with a good time.

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belugabob replied to essexian | 2 months ago
8 likes
essexian wrote:

Loving the look of Agenda 2030.  I see NOTHING the loony in the hat is highlighting to object to. 

Where do I sign up? 

"We don't want any of that 15 minute city malarkey...!"
"Why can't we cut through the park - going round adds more time to our journeys...?"

That's Schrödinger's Conspiracy Theorists, right there...

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Cyclo1964 replied to essexian | 2 months ago
6 likes

I was surprised it wasn't made of tin foil 

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