You may remember back in May we reported on the meltdown that occurred in sections of the national press after Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council scandalously – scandalously, I tell ya – painted bicycle symbols in the middle of lanes in Boscombe, as part of resurfacing works in the Bournemouth suburb.
The council said at the time that the new road markings on the A35 Christchurch Road and between Browning Avenue and the Christchurch Road roundabout were added to encourage cyclists to take a “prominent” position on the road, to “make them more visible to other motorists”.
While bike symbols in shared use lanes have been used in the UK since 1975, the installation of a decades-old road marking in Bournemouth resulted in both the MailOnline and Daily Telegraph, in between bouts of frothing no doubt, penning articles claiming that the symbols encourage cyclists to “ignore” the town’s dedicated bike lane.
> Bike lane meltdown: New road markings prompt Mail to ask, “is there any room left for 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 said.
“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 Mail 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?”
Those pesky, lycra-clad cyclists, always ignoring those lovely, narrow bits of paint we kindly offer them…
So, how are Boscombe’s cycle lanes doing, two months after the press extolled their virtues so lovingly?
Well, one Bournemouth resident has been taking note of the bike lanes in question on the Christchurch Road as he drives to work every morning… and, you guessed it, they’re full of parked cars:
Dean Hawthorne has told the Bournemouth Daily Echo that he will record the constant parking in bike lanes – which he describes as an “accident waiting to happen” – until “something is done”.
“They're obviously not monitored at all because I drive down that road regularly and they always have people parked in them. To be fair the whole area around Boscombe doesn't seem to be monitored,” he said.
“Having cars parked in the cycle lane pushes cyclists into the main flow of traffic which is a danger because cyclists are potentially vulnerable to vehicles. There are a number of school runs in the area as well, it's an accident waiting to happen.
“There was a report recently about the air quality and Christchurch Road is particularly bad.
“If you want people to start cycling, you need to offer good cycling infrastructure and what they've offered isn't. It's just some lines on a road and if it's not being monitored, if one person parks there, you get 20 people parking there.
“There is a parking issue in the area because every summer we have the same issue, it's no surprise, it's just going to get worse if nothing is done about it.”
Dean continued: “I believe you need segregated cycle lanes, even if it's the bollards. All around the world there are much busier places than Bournemouth who have successfully integrated cycle lanes, so it needs to be looked at properly by people who know what they're doing.
“The cycle lanes that are there are broken up anyway, they're not continuous so it does feel a bit like a token gesture.
“A white line on the floor is not suitable really, there needs to be more and it needs to be monitored, I've never seen anyone with a ticket round there.
“I will keep filming it as long as it goes on because it's just not good enough.”
> Large bike symbols painted on middle of Bournemouth lanes to encourage cyclists to ride in primary position – and motorists aren’t happy
Councillor for Boscombe East and Pokesdown, Andy Jones, agreed with Dean, telling the Echo: “The last however many times, I've walked and driven along that particular part of the road, there's frequently cars parked in there and it’s clearly marked with ‘no waiting, no stopping’ restrictions so vehicles shouldn’t be in there for any length of time.
“Having civil enforcement officers patrol is obviously an important aspect but they can’t be there all the time.
“One of the things that I've asked our portfolio holder for transportation Mike Greene to look at is the possibility of using camera enforcement, so he's going to go away and look at that, speak to the relevant officers and come back to me.
“I believe there is legislation there to allow that enforcement but he's going to look into it and advise.
“I think we need to look at a smarter way of tackling this, we can use camera enforcement, and have tickets sent through the post that way and clearly that's going to be a far more effective way of dealing with it than what we've got at the moment.
“Residents have been contacting me about it so clearly what's happening at the moment isn't satisfactory and at the end of the day it is a cycle lane and people should be able to cycle through it without coming across parked cars.”