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Anti-cycling campaigners “spreading misinformation” say councillors, after “factually incorrect and negative” rumours that trees are set to be cut down for new cycle lane quashed

The local authority says all trees will be retained, and an additional tree planted, during the bike lane’s construction

Locals opposed to the latest phase of a massive active travel scheme – who have previously argued that the project does not represent “value for money”, that “not enough” cyclists are using the town’s cycle lanes, and that more road space should be allocated to drivers because they are “the majority” – have been accused of “spreading misinformation” after unfounded rumours emerged on social media claiming that several trees will be cut down during the construction of the cycling infrastructure.

However, the local authority has dismissed the social media claims as “factually incorrect and negative”, and noted that the cycle lane has been designed to make sure that all trees will be retained, while one additional tree will in fact be planted as part of the project.

The new two-mile cycle lane on Wimborne Road East in Ferndown, the first part of which was branded “Britain’s biggest bike lane” by the Daily Mail, forms part of Dorset Council’s plan to create “a safe, sustainable transport link between residential areas, local schools, and centres of employment” in the area, while also adding another section to the active travel route that connects Ferndown, Wimborne, and Poole.

Once complete, the road will feature 4.3 miles of “uninterrupted accessibility improvements” from Wimborne to Trickett’s Cross, linking residential areas with Dorset’s largest employment area.

> “Waste of money” cycle lane slammed, as some locals call for more space for drivers – “because that’s the majority”

However, the news in May that the last two-mile section of the active travel lanes on Wimborne Road East is expected to cost £7.9m once complete prompted calls from some disgruntled residents that the scheme fails to represent value for money.

Retired shop fitter Graham Barber claimed that the government-funded costs of the cycle lanes cannot be justified “because there are not enough cyclists using them”, while Tony Johnson – like many others before him when it comes to cycle lanes in Dorset – criticised the lane’s width, arguing that there should be more space for car drivers “because that’s the majority”.

This anti-cycle lane rhetoric has, rather predictably, migrated over to social media in recent weeks, where rumours spread that two trees were in danger of being displaced to allow for the infrastructure’s construction.

In a Facebook post that attracted over 100 comments, one Ferndown local wrote: “Saddened to see they are digging towards these two beautiful trees, which no doubt their days are numbered, to make way for the new cycle lane on Wimborne Road East.

“It’s a real shame they couldn’t plan it properly so as to have avoided losing them. I hope they will plant replacements nearby.”

That particular post acted as the catalyst for more general condemnations of the project, with one social media user writing: “Cycle lanes cost millions yet cyclists don’t pay any form of road tax and don’t have to take out insurance like other road users. There are much more urgent things for our hard-earned cash to be spent on.”

Wimborne Road East (Dorset Council)

However, the rumours were swiftly quashed by Dorset Council, which emphasised that it is “not removing any trees as part of our current works on Wimborne Road”.

Ward councillor Cathy Lugg told the Daily Echo that she didn’t know how the “misinformation” surrounding the tress had started, while councillor Mike Parkes criticised the “factually incorrect and negative” social media posts.

“We are not removing any trees as part of our current works on Wimborne Road,” a Dorset Council spokesperson said, addressing the unfounded rumours.

“We carefully designed the scheme so the existing trees by Clayford Avenue and the Pure Drop Pub are retained. We will, in fact, be adding an additional tree close to the Stanfield Road junction. 

“Careful consideration is made to the natural environment when planning our projects. We have worked closely with our ecologists to ensure the impact on the environment is minimised at all stages of construction.”

Dorset cycle lane (credit - BCP Matters, Facebook)

> MailOnline takes aim at cyclists for not using “rollercoaster” bike lane... that is “littered with stones” and “stops and starts all the way along”

As noted above, these latest social media whispers aren’t the first time that the Wimborne Road East cycle lane, the final phase of which is funded by Active Travel England, has faced scathing – and questionable – criticism from locals opposed to the active travel project (and even from a handful of cyclists concerned about the scheme’s implementation).

“We can see the cycle lane from our lounge and the amount of cyclists that we see going up and down it is so little,” 73-year-old retired shop fitter Graham said about the project in May.

“I’m originally from London and I have spoken to a lot of people back there about the cycle lane here and all of them cannot believe the costs for them here.

“But the problem is the design of it – there’s a foot-wide bit against the kerb and cycleway that is just earth, and they can’t put a machine there to tidy it and nothing is ever done about it.”

Cyclist Elle, who lives on the road, also said the lanes need to be more effectively maintained if they are to encourage cyclists to use them.

“They need to be regularly swept because twigs and leaves and stones get left on them and it can make cycling dangerous,” she said.

Nevertheless, Elle added that the lane’s installation is a positive step for local cyclists, thanks to the intimidating and “dangerous and aggressive” nature of some motorists.

> Row over Dorset cycle lane that drivers claim is “too wide”

Meanwhile, back in 2021, Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council attracted the ire of the national press for giving the green light to an 11ft-wide cycle lane on Wimborne Road West, dubbed “Britain’s biggest bike lane” by the Daily Telegraph and “shambolic” by the Mail, who also claimed that motorists were now afforded less space on the road than cyclists and “forced to pull over to avoid a crash” thanks to the lane.

Later that year, another new cycle lane in Poole – this time nine and a half feet wide – was branded “unsightly and a mess” by some locals, who also questioned the number of cyclists using the dedicated infrastructure.

And in 2023, the Wimborne cycle lane once again made headlines, as the Mail published a photo of a female cyclist “caught on camera brazenly ignoring Britain's widest cycling lane as she rides in lane dedicated to other traffic instead… In order to get around her, a van has to pull into the opposite lane.”

However, several local cyclists pointed out that the cycle lane was in fact closed at the time of the photo due to construction work and that, in any case, the lane in question is “so littered with stones you're almost guaranteed a puncture”.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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19 comments

Avatar
E6toSE3 | 1 day ago
1 like

Looking forward to trying out this route when stay with a friend in August. So many posts here and elsewhere to see for myself what they're about. Been going down there for 30+ years. Last year or two, impressed with cycle and pedestrian lanes to cater for the massive house building access into Wimborne. But as 69-year-old experienced cyclist, I'd hate it. So much looking backwards to cross side roads. Cars squeezed together. Will be interesting

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BigDoodyBoy | 2 days ago
0 likes

There are two places in the article where it's pointed out that the cycle lanes are not used because of debris that could damage bike tyres and that people cycle in the road to avoid the debris. It is also noted that bike lanes need to be swept to keep them clean so they can be used. We don't sweep roads and presumably the bikes are ok on the roads because there is no debris. Do cars therefore sweep the roads clean? If so, why don't we allow cars into the cycle lanes to keep them clean too?

Just asking.

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mdavidford replied to BigDoodyBoy | 2 days ago
6 likes

BigDoodyBoy wrote:

We don't sweep roads

Huh? I'd always assumed that's what these were for? Have I been confused all this time, and it's actually a mobile shoeshine business?

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chrisonabike replied to mdavidford | 2 days ago
1 like

Mechanical rotifer?

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E6toSE3 replied to mdavidford | 1 day ago
0 likes

Those things led to exponential increase use of bike lane next to A13 each morning

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chrisonabike replied to BigDoodyBoy | 2 days ago
2 likes

We don't clear roads of snow in winter either, nor sprinkle rock-salt or grit * - what are these cyclists moaning about?

Loking a bit deeper this is in part an issue with poor-quality UK cycle infra designs - on-carriageway cycle lanes as opposed to separate cycle paths.

- Roads have camber, so debris tends to get swept by wind / rain / hit by vehicles and migrate to the sides (lowest points).  Stuff run over by vehicles tends to be flung about which bikes don't tend to do so much.
 - Roads have vertical kerbs which help trap debris
 - Where we've added "protection" with things like armadillos / orcas / blocks these also may help trap debris.

All the above is less drama to a heavy vehicle with chunky tyres than a bike.

* Unless you've got enough snow that you can maintain a good surface a surface, here's how to do this for cycle infra (not rock salt...)

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E6toSE3 replied to chrisonabike | 1 day ago
0 likes

And the same does hit car tyres too. Park close to kerb and vulnerable to punctures at corner of sidewall and tread... have to replace tyre, can't fix it, even if otherwise it would be legal for years.
Our road and path infrastructure is a nasty mess of design, construction, maintenance adding £billions to cost of use by lorries, vans, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles

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E6toSE3 replied to BigDoodyBoy | 1 day ago
1 like

Cars do sweep roads clean by flicking sharp stuff into gutters and onto cycle & pedestrian paths next to the road. Uptake of London blue route by A13 increased exponentially when they drove a cleaning machine along it in the morning.
Speaking as cyclist over 50 adult years in London, I mostly hate cycle lanes. Far prefer prime position in a normal road lane for a variety of reasons, including less sharp stuff

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eburtthebike | 2 days ago
4 likes

“Cycle lanes cost millions yet cyclists don’t pay any form of road tax and don’t have to take out insurance like other road users. There are much more urgent things for our hard-earned cash to be spent on.”

No, there aren't.  Cycle lanes have a payback on investment ratio of at least 20:1, by far the best value of any government funding. 

Active Travel directly tackles the most pervasive of modern ills; obesity, pollution, congestion, road safety etc, etc: the list is endless, but when you've been conditioned for your entire life that your car is your life, it is impossible to rationally consider the alternatives.

Having lies told about you is a common theme amongst people who have no rational arguments, they must resort to lies and insults.  The fact that such lies and insults are swallowed by the gullible is unfortunate, and even more unfortunate is that the gullible will continue believing those lies even when they have been proved wrong.

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wtjs replied to eburtthebike | 1 day ago
2 likes

Cycle lanes cost millions yet cyclists don’t pay any form of road tax

Neither do ubermensch Panzer drivers

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wtjs replied to wtjs | 1 day ago
1 like

However, that's only 6 months VED evasion- that gets you a Good Citizenship Award in Lancashire. I've shown WU59 UMH too often- with over 6 years 7 months evasion, so here's BF64 TGE with only 2 years 7 months- reported to DVLA and police several times to no effect whatsoever. 

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polainm | 2 days ago
5 likes

Most English-speaking nations are pretty anti-cycling and pro-driver, and this is down to deep-rooted cultural clanism that turns on the 'outlaw' when it suits them. 

However, the UK must be at the top of cyclist-hating nations with the most toxic highway culture outside of the US?

Drivers are fine with nearly £1bn being spent on the Black Cat roundabout to reduce driving times by a few minutes but are up in arms when a £1m cycle lane is installed to make cycling, walking and access by mobility scooters safe.

The UK is a mean-spirited nation of ignorant drivers crippled by PCPs to drive ridiculous vanity wagons that can do 0-60 in a few seconds but sit in their own traffic jams for most trips under 10km....

 

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OldRidgeback replied to polainm | 2 days ago
6 likes

From what I've read, Australia beats the UK hands down for anti cycling attitudes.

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Cyclo1964 replied to OldRidgeback | 2 days ago
0 likes

Having lived in Australia for several years I would probably say it is at a similar level. That said as a country Australia is something like the 6th largest with a small population so being able to get away from the f-wits is a far easier task than here in the uk ! 

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mitsky | 2 days ago
7 likes

1) Presumably those who look at the current "empty" cycle lanes and say the aren't  used will also be arguing to remove pavements and bus lanes due to them being empty most of the time...?
2) And will those complaining about (the false news of) digging up trees to make way for the cycle lane would also be up in arms if similar destruction of nature was caused to make way for roads/lanes for motorists...?

I won't hold my breath...

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chrisonabike replied to mitsky | 2 days ago
3 likes

Yup.  Charitably it's just "what is here now is all there is" (lack of knowledge or imagination / belief), but probably FUD.

1) Even most roads are empty for much of the day.  But the issue is people just don't realise how space-inefficient motor vehicles are.

2) Even previous governments have produced reports acknowledging cycle infra is a good investment.

To head off the naysayers (pointless - they already know) a) attactiveness is relative - build good cycle infra but better car infra and expect people to drive b) there are minimum standards - a network of safe, convenient and attractive infra which goes reasonably directly to where people want to go, has secure places to park and (eventually) facilitates social travel.  Doesn't do that?  Waste of money.

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quiff replied to mitsky | 2 days ago
3 likes

mitsky wrote:

1) Presumably those who look at the current "empty" cycle lanes and say the aren't  used will also be arguing to remove the pavements due to them being empty most of the time...?

Don't give them ideas. 

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hawkinspeter | 2 days ago
9 likes

Who would guess that anti cycling sentiment is based on lies and lack of understanding?

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eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 days ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Who would guess that anti cycling sentiment is based on lies and lack of understanding?

Wilful misunderstanding, rather than genuine misunderstanding.  They don't understand because they don't want to understand.

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