A driver became ‘stuck’ on a raised kerb while making way for a police car this week after motorists claimed a new cycle lane doesn’t leave enough room for emergency vehicles.
Two new bike lanes on a busy A road in Bournemouth, Dorset, opened late last year and cyclists using the route are protected from traffic by six-inch raised kerbs.
The £1.12million cycle lane scheme saw the carriageway on the A347 Whitelegg Way narrowed, and is between 6.4m and 6.6m wide, to make room for the bike lanes.
But some motorists complained the new width leaves no room to make way for emergency vehicles, with photographs previously showing the mayhem caused.
Now, pictures taken on January 10 appear to show a Fiat 500 ‘stuck’ on the kerb, after mounting it in a bid to allow a police car to drive past.
Speaking about the incident, motorist Barclay Hoare, 53, said the unnamed female driver was unable to get her car off the kerb and asked a workman to help her.
But a spokesperson for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council said the driver had not become stuck, saying they had chosen to mount the kerb to let the police car past due to stationary traffic caused by temporary traffic signals.
On January 10, a driver allegedly became ‘stuck’ (pictured) on a kerb on the A347 Whitelegg Way in Bournemouth, Dorset, after mounting the kerb to let a police car pass
The spokesperson added that the kerb design ‘adheres to national standards’ and said they they do not advise drivers to mount the kerb, saying it is not ‘necessary’.
The cycle lane is part of a £102million ‘Transforming Cities’ scheme to create sustainable travel links across south east Dorset, with others built in nearby Wimborne and Merley.
Speaking about the car apparently becoming wedged on the kerb, motorist Barclay Hoare said the ordeal lasted around 20 minutes and caused a mile-long tailback.
Mr Hoare, 53, said the driver, who was middle aged and with her child, was in a ‘distressed’ state before the workman managed to drive her car off the kerb.
The driver is believed to have mounted the kerb to make way for a police car due to stationary traffic on the carriageway, which was caused by the temporary traffic signals.
Carpet retailer Mr Hoare, from West Parley, near Bournemouth, claimed he had seen three such incidents and called on the council to ‘admit they got it wrong’ and remove the kerbs.
Two new bikes lanes, which are protected by kerbs, were opened last year on the A road and some motorists have complained there is no longer room for emergency vehicles to pass
He said: ‘I was at the front near the temporary traffic lights when this police car came from behind.
‘The vehicle needed to pass through the backed-up traffic and this poor woman banked her car up onto the high kerb to make way and became stuck.
‘It blocked the entire road off because of the lane closure and temporary lights. The woman was middle aged and with a child. She was in a bit of a distressed state.
‘A workman came to her aid and was eventually able to drive the car off the kerb after 20 minutes, after a one mile tailback had built up.’
A spokesperson for BCP council said the kerb design ‘adheres to national standards’ and insisted the car was not stuck, as ‘no rocking or pushing of it was required’.
Mr Hoare claimed that, since the new cycle lanes opened, he has used the road as both a cyclist and a driver and said he believes the cycle lane is ‘too wide’.
He added: ‘I am amazed at that road, I don’t think it’s been thought out well.
‘The kerb is far too high and it would have caused quite a bit of damage to the car’s alloys I’d have thought.
‘I travel down the road everyday for work and have also used it as a cyclist. I think it’s too wide as you could fit two or three cyclists alongside each other.
‘This was always going to happen. The council need to hold their hands up and accept they have got it wrong.
‘The kerbs need to be lowered or replaced by a white line, and the cycle lanes need narrowing.
‘When a lorry passes in the other direction, you breathe in. I could see this coming a mile off and it happened right in front of me.’
Photographs shared in December showed mayhem caused by the new road layout, with cars mounting concrete barriers in a bid to move out of the way of emergency services
A spokesperson for BCP council said the stationary traffic on the road at the time was caused by temporary traffic signals, adding that a construction worker had assisted the driver to ‘relieve traffic congestion’.
They said: ‘The carriageway and kerb heights on Whitelegg Way adhere to national standards set by the Department for Transport and can be used safely by all vehicles, including emergency services vehicles.
‘The cycleway includes a raised kerb to protect the cycle route from traffic on this busy road.
‘It is not necessary for drivers to mount the cycleway kerb which has been built to keep cyclists safe.
‘We recommend drivers follow the Highway Code when they encounter emergency vehicles that are under flashing lights. Drivers are advised not to panic, and to consider the route of the emergency vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass.
‘This includes pulling to the side of the road and stopping where necessary to let the emergency vehicle through. Drivers should avoid mounting the kerb.
‘Local emergency services teams are aware of the roadworks on Whitelegg Way and have not raised any issues with us.
‘On one occasion on Monday several cars chose to mount the cycleway kerb to let an emergency vehicle pass – this was due to stationary traffic caused by temporary traffic signals.
‘The contractor working on behalf of the council has confirmed that one of these vehicles had difficulty re-joining the carriageway and to relieve traffic congestion a construction worker provided the driver assistance and drove the vehicle back onto the carriageway on their behalf.
‘The car was not stuck on the kerb and we are not aware of any damage to the car.
‘The temporary traffic lights on Whitelegg Way will be manned during peak times to observe traffic flows and where required signal timings will be altered to reduce delays; during this period where possible traffic will be held to give priority to emergency vehicles.’
A spokesperson for BCP Council said the kerb design ‘adheres to national standards’ and that they they do not advise drivers to mount the kerb. Pictured: Cyclist using the new lane
Photographs shared in December showed mayhem caused by the new road layout, with cars mounting concrete barriers in a bid to move out of the way of emergency services.
The A347 Whitelegg Way, which is on a main route to Bournemouth Hospital, has been narrowed to make room for the cycle lanes.
In November, a local firefighter broke ranks by warning that there was not enough room for fire engines to squeeze through.
The unnamed officer said: ‘Usually cars can part, even if it means bumping up on the kerb. The kerbs are massive now so they can’t do that.’
Stephen Bartlett, a local independent councillor, said at the time: ‘In my view the new cycle lanes are a great example of how to waste millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
‘We now have problems that are entirely self-inflicted.
‘I had concerns that the road would be too narrow once the cycle lanes had been put in and I raised them before the work started. I don’t think it is necessary to have cycle lanes on both sides of the carriageway.
‘I think it will hold up emergency vehicles and it could be a serious issue as the road is part of a main route to the hospital.’
Jean McLucas, from nearby Merley, posted online: ‘We have just driven down it and I feel rather claustrophobic as you are actually hemmed in by the high kerbs on the nearside.
‘There is no ‘escape route’ to be able to move over out of the way of anything coming towards you on the wrong side of the road or even be able to move over to make a wider path to let emergency vehicles come through the middle.’
Chris Edwards, from Bournemouth, said: ‘Not sure how a fire engine could get through if the traffic is solid both ways as the curbs are too high to drive up to clear the way. Total waste of money and creating a potential danger.’
Earlier this month, the cycle lane scheme also caused controversy after a cyclist apparently failed to use the new bike lane.
Video footage, filmed by a car passenger, shows a row of cars slow down to a crawl behind the cyclist, who is using the road despite a wide cycle lane lying next to him.
At the time, a BCP council spokesman speculated that road work barriers obstructing the lane over Christmas may have been why the cyclist did not use the lane. They added that the barriers had since been cleared.
According to rule 63 of the Highway Code, the use of cycle lanes is not compulsory but it says they can help to make cyclists’ journeys safer.
It states: ‘Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.’
The female passenger who recorded the footage said she ‘hardly ever’ sees the cycle lane being used, slamming it as a waste of money.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I just couldn’t believe it – the situation definitely had me swearing a bit. It’s infuriating.
‘The road is already narrow with no room for drivers to let emergency vehicles pass and you have this cyclist ignoring the designated lane.
‘There were four to five cars in front of me and they were having to avoid the cyclist as well as oncoming traffic.
‘Some people have said that parts of the cycle way is still unfinished but it was definitely open and safe to use.
The cycle lane (picutred) is part of a £102m ‘Transforming Cities’ scheme to create sustainable travel links across south east Dorset with others built in nearby Wimborne and Merley
‘My frustration is with the local council for the money spent on these cycle lanes when the whole infrastructure of the town needs urgent attention.
‘The whole of Bournemouth is turning into cycle lanes and there’s no room for cars anymore. I hardly ever see cyclists in the bike lane.
‘It’s hard enough for the emergency services as it is without the roads being like this. The council just doesn’t seem to listen to the public.’
A spokesman for BCP Council said they would review their temporary signage to make sure it was clear to cyclists that the lane is open and operational. Permanent signage has not yet been installed.
They said at the time: ‘We don’t know why the cyclist chose to ride on the road rather than use the cycleway along Whitelegg Way.
‘Road work barriers blew over during the Christmas period obstructing sections of the cycleway so this may have been the reason; they have now been cleared.
‘The sustainable travel improvements along Whitelegg Way are still under construction and permanent cycle route signage has not yet been installed.
‘Cyclists may not be aware that the cycle lane is now open. We will review the temporary signage in place to ensure it is clear that the lane is operational.
‘One of the biggest concerns stopping people from cycling is their safety when using busy roads. Evidence shows that people will use bike infrastructure once it is built.
‘A study found that in cities where bike infrastructure was added, cycling increased up to 48 percent more than in cities that did not add bike lanes.
‘Whilst there is no legal obligation for people to use cycle lanes, they are separated from traffic and therefore much safer for people cycling rather than using the same lane as traffic.
‘We encourage people to use cycle lanes wherever possible and follow the Highway Code rules for cyclists. We will be carrying out campaigns around road user and cycle lane etiquette in due course, once the works along the route are complete.’