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Plans to encourage cycling by banning cars from “rat run” delayed

1,000 locals have signed a petition opposing the scheme in Beeston, though one resident claimed campaigners have “catastrophised” the ban

A plan to encourage cycling by banning motorists from a cut-through road described by locals as a “race track” has been delayed after a petition against the proposals secured over 1,000 signatures.

Last month we reported that Nottinghamshire County Council was planning to introduce an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) which would stop cars from accessing the narrow Dovecote Lane in Beeston. 

The planned closure, which will be enforced using planters, is being funded by the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund and aims to encourage cycling in the area “for all ages”.

Residents and road users would be encouraged to offer feedback throughout the Experimental Order, which would stay in place for a maximum of 18 months and allow for alterations during the first six months. At the end of that period, after considering residents’ feedback and assessing the impact of the changes, the order can then be made permanent or scrapped.

Councillor Neil Clarke MBE, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's transport and environment committee, said last month that around 80 cycle journeys are made on Dovecote Lane each day, "but the road is very narrow at the northern end and we are keen to make it more appealing for cyclists of all ages.”

Locals also expressed support for the scheme, with Roger Pinder pointing out that drivers took advantage of the road as “a cut-through to avoid traffic lights and a few people have used it before as like a race track. It's a miracle that no one has been killed or seriously injured before.

"The new plans will be an inconvenience for me because it's a handy shortcut but I think it's worth the sacrifice as cyclists and pedestrians will feel safer."

> Cars to be banned from "race track" shortcut to promote cycling

However, the implementation of the scheme has now been delayed after a petition against the proposals gained over 1,000 signatures.

Plans for further consultation before the ETRO is introduced are likely to be approved by Nottinghamshire County Council’s transport and environment committee on 9 February. The consultation is set to begin by the end of the month and will be reviewed in early spring.

"The Department for Transport have agreed to extend their timeline for the Active Travel Fund which the Dovecote cycle lane proposal would be funded from,” Neil Clarke said earlier this week.

"We spoke to them after a number of concerns were raised to us from the local community and these need to be considered very carefully."

The leader of the ‘Keep Dovecote Lane Open’ campaign, Peter Bone, told the West Bridgford Wire that he had “serious safety concerns” about the plans. 

“I have lived here for 35 years and I have cycled up and down there hundreds of times. I have never really felt in danger. Cars naturally slow down where the road narrows.

"Our big worry is if the road is closed at the top and you've got a one-way system, all traffic has to go on to Queen's Road which will be very dangerous for cyclists and add to congestion,” Bone said.

 "We are grateful for the delay but we hope that it allows an extension long enough for a proper consultation and for proper evidence to be gathered. We were concerned that we hadn't been properly consulted.

“There was an online questionnaire last February but there was no provision for residents to suggest what could be done about the problems.

“We never got any feedback and suddenly in January a letter comes through telling us about the plans.”

The Conservative MP for the area, Darren Henry, said: “I wrote to both Nottinghamshire County Council and the DfT last week pushing for an extension to the deadline.

“I am pleased to hear that an agreement has been reached allowing for more discussion and consultation with the local community.”

One resident, however, has criticised the opponents of the scheme, who he claims have “catastrophised” the proposals.

Describing Dovecote Lane as a “rat run” for motorists, the local said: “During lockdown, I sat at my dining room window and watched as cyclists and pedestrians used the road. Children learned to ride their bikes and toddlers practised their walking.

“Obviously as life got back to normal, all that has stopped. Toddlers are strapped back in their buggies, cyclists are the confident lycra-clad adult sort – not kids riding to play in the parks.

“I want the council to run the experiment. The residents of the surrounding roads have catastrophised the closure.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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