19 August 2020
Cllr Chris Rigby has highlighted this post by the ward Councillor, George Farquhar, on the road closures for active travel at Boscombe overcliff.
"Along with my fellow Councillors and residents I received notification on Friday 14th August of a proposal to install an ETRO (Experimental Traffic Regulation Order) on Boscombe Overcliff Drive, and that it would become active on Monday 24th August.
"Reading through the plan on the BCP website I was pleased that the Ward I serve was one of the ones selected for an ETRO since I was aware the BCP Local Authority had called for and received over 1000 responses from residents on how their local neighbourhoods could be improved with if we were successful in our bid to have a share of the Government’s Active Travel Fund.
"In fact the response was so positive and BCP officers had worked so diligently, that central Government award us an uplift to the allocation we were to receive, even though it was an incredibly short time that the government allowed for the local proposals to be worked up and submitted (measured in days, not weeks or months, with urgent delivery demanded and fierce clawback on any funds that didn’t demonstrate meaningful change).
"What is even better is our officers work meant out of the 343 Local Authorities in England less than 80 managed to get a share of the fund. With £312,835 for the first phase. And a possible £1,1 million for the second phase means local Council Tax payers will not be paying for these schemes.
"Looking at the proposal, what I saw was the plan to stop 'through traffic' along the Boscombe Overcliff Drive for a trial period (6months) to encourage motorised traffic to make different choices for their journeys and everyone else to enjoy active methods of travel with the benefit of a reduced flow of traffic and slower speeds by that traffic accessing that stretch of the restriction because they live there, delivering there or are parking to visit that part of the clifftop.
"One of the first things I noticed on Friday after the announcement was, apart from a couple of emails in my Councillor inbox (which has now increased to 19) a very large number of comments attracted to the post on the Echo website and a multitude of posts on social media. This included our local community pages, including the SOBO page, which also attracted many comments, that now number in the hundreds.
"The majority of the comments are negative and generally urged opposition to the ETRO before the trial could even begin. Unfortunately, a percentage of these comments misinterpreted the nature of the ETRO and what the trial period hopes to achieve, namely a change of behaviour in the surrounding area relating to travel. In the six months of the trial there is a feedback form which allows residents both in and outside of the area to comment on the effect that they experience, both negative and positive.
"With that in mind and even though I have lived in the area for nine years and I visit the clifftop multiple times every week, I set out to walk the route on Saturday morning and document what I found with fresh eyes and an open mind.
"Particularly since my knowledge of the stretch of road was in direct contradiction to many of the comments on social media which is how those commentating perceived the actual reality. These findings are as follows from a rainy Saturday morning.
1. Speeding traffic: To protect the Dingle Road junction, there are installed excess speed warning cameras on both sides of the junction. These were triggered for speeds more than 30mph several times. I spent 5mins monitoring in front of each of the two warning signs, with the Westbound one being triggered 12 times and the Eastbound being triggered 6 times. The traffic was moderate to light, over the total 10 minute period with light rain and a wet road.
2. The southside pavement narrows in seven distinct stretches to allow for parking. Where the pavement narrows it is impossible to pass another pedestrian with social distancing unless you step into the road or parking areas. This is true for a little over 70% of the 0.6mile of Boscombe Overcliff Drive that would be closed to 'through traffic' for the trial period.
3. Where the pavement narrows to allow for parking there is also overhanging car bonnets and boots that narrow the available space on the pavement still further. This makes the passing of pushchairs or mobility scooters sometimes impossible without having to go into the road to pass. I also noted to the side of the path there is often grassy banks and slopes and in some cases bushes which makes it impossible to step aside if you have accessibility needs.
4. Looking at the road itself, I noted the surface nearest the kerbs is worn and uneven for cyclists to use and some of those cyclists that I saw, preferred to be further out from the kerb where the road was more even.
Likewise the road is not as wide as some commentators have given the impression. The minimum space recommendation when passing a cyclist is 1.5m (and more when the weather is poor, as it was on Saturday). This is problematic for drivers particularly those that were exceeding the speed limit on that particular day. The recommended width of a cycle lane is 2m.
5. My other observation is, parking is also allowed on the north side of the carriageway, except in areas marked with double yellow lines at the ten junctions onto the affected area.
6. The zebra crossing at Woodland Avenue junction, is protected by traffic calming humps and a raised area. Again as a deterrent and warning to drivers, particularly those that travel faster than the speed limit along this straight stretch.
"In the emails I have received there are multiple comments around concerns for congestion and safety on the surrounding roads. Some have comments and suggestions for alternatives to the ETRO. Others have concerns for those with accessibility needs and fear of increased levels of pollution. Of the 19 emails one is supportive of the ETRO, one is neutral, and the remainder are opposed.
"Of the opposed emails many urge my support in opposing the ETRO and some in fact some plead that I make every effort to stop the ETRO before it even starts on the 24th for it’s trial period. Each email will be getting a considered reply based on it’s actual contents and the points raised.
However, I will not be opposing the ETRO before it even starts. I am keeping an open mind since the purpose of it is to encourage a change in behaviours and become more active, and to provide evidence through feedback on the effects of the trial. To try to prevent the feedback by residents before the change is even trialed is a disservice to all those residents.
"There is a need for all Local Authorities to come up with solutions to the world post Covid-19 first wave. Some may well have seen the adverts that becoming fitter and slimmer improves the individual chances in not contributing to becoming critically ill because of obesity (link in comments)
I myself enjoyed the quiet roads and neighbourhoods during lockdown. I enjoyed the clear air and the skies without contrails, I also very much enjoyed the sound of birdsong and wildlife coming closer to habitation. How quickly we forget this in our rush back to 'normal'.
"Additionally, we have a duty to contribute to being a part of the solution to Climate Change and supporting the Declaration of the Climate & Ecological Emergency the Council made and our efforts to become carbon neutral.
"But one recurring concern comes up from residents over and over in both the social media comments and emails. This is the lack of a pedestrian crossing on the bend in Wentworth Avenue at the north entrance to Fishermans Walk. This echoes my own concern for safe active travel, so I will be requesting that a temporary pedestrian crossing is put in place to support the trial and alleviate the concerns residents and visitors have at that location."
Bournemouth Echo reported on this trial scheme, which includes Southbourne Overcliff Drive as well, in their report on 17th August.