Campaign campaigns seeks to challenge a council’s decision to remove an active travel scheme in Poole, Dorset is appealing for donations to fund their application for judicial review, with Cycling UK describing Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s reopening of the motor vehicle route as “transport planning from the last century . ”
The case, which is due to be heard in the High Court on October 6, is the first of several in the whole country that seeks to reverse the removal of contingency plans that have been introduced during the past year, or which aim to get more to walk and cycle during coronavirus pandemic.
It concerns the Keyhole Bridge on Whitecliff Road, where in March this year the council reopened the narrow 2.7 meter wide road that runs under the railway it leads to motor traffic, and Cycling UK said that at peak times, as many as 500 vehicles an hour could use the route .
The charity has highlighted that when motor traffic was removed in August last year, the underpass provided a safe connection for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and other disabled people to cross the railway while driving between Poole Park and Whitecliff Harborside Park.
The decision to reopen the road to motorists is opposed by local advocates who formed the Keyhole Bridge Group, but failed to persuade the council to reconsider, and while they have raised nearly £ 11,500 to fund their legal costs, they are still around £ 1,000 less than the expected £ 12,500 they need.
Sue Smith, a member of the Keyhole Bridge Group, told Cycling UK: “The congestion issues at Keyhole Bridge have been building for years, so it was a huge relief when the council took the positive step of closing it to traffic.
“It is used by everyone from students to commuters, local hospital staff, toddlers who ride bicycles and others who build their confidence in the bike, and having closed it made a huge difference for people with visual impairment, hearing loss and wheelchair users who could use the bridge safely without worrying about the traffic.
‘But of course we lost all that when the bridge reopened. After enjoying the tranquility of moving from one park to the next without having to struggle with traffic, many local people are rightly in doubt as to why the sensible closure of the road has been reversed.
We explained to the Council how insecure it now felt, but they simply erected a couple of ‘shared space’ signs that had no effect – where people again waited for a break in traffic and then made a touch for it, all to save motorists less than 0.25 miles. Unfortunately, our legal challenge is now our last hope. ”
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, commented: “Pushing cars through the Keyhole Bridge is transport planning from the last century.
“Instead of prioritizing pedestrians, park users and people who want to cycle safely in Poole, the council gave the first sign of political pressure, but the Keyhole Bridge Group never backed down and the battle for the bollard will be fought in court next month, provided the group secures the necessary additional funding.
“If you rip a bollard out to create a rat race that stops people from walking, in wheelchairs or bicycles, passing safely under a bridge, it sounds to you, and you’re always preferred David to Goliath, it’s a campaign, that is worth chipping in for. ”
Donations can be made to the Keyhold Bridge group here.