Penn Hill- St Osmunds Road

Quick tuesday blog- if you ever use the roads in Poole youll enjoy this. Another blogger recently commented about the strangeness of the U.K attitude to cycling is, this blog is about that. An experience I have almost daily encapsulates the position Active Travel has in U.K life. Penn Hill Poole at the traffic light junction x-roads with St Osmunds road is somewhere I ride almost daily while bike commuting, many other locals also do so avoiding Bournemouth/ Poole road and the roundabouts at Branksome station.

Like everywhere there is a x-ing the traffic forms into a queue at the lights. When I approach in a phase which has already stopped, the choice is to filter to the front of the line and wait in the traffic stream, there is no marked cycle lane towards Bournemouth or an ASL (Advanced Stop Line) so its a matter of squeezing in between two cars to get in the leftside, or waiting behind 15-20 cars which is considerable distance and not something I’m generally prepared to do. If coming back from Bournemouth westbound there is an advisory cycle lane both sides of the road which ends/ starts where protection for bikes is most needed at the x-ing. At this junction (see picture) the westbound lane splits to allows right hand turns which invites users to overtake me in the right lane providing theres nothing already waiting to turn right, which is one way I’m put at risk when the lights are green. If Penn Hill road is at red when I arrive, then me being a skilled rider will take centre of the lane waiting at the light (the advisory paint ends as you can see) to eliminate the chance of a driver squeezing past me over the junction on a green light. As I travel west then, the opposite side of queue is just moving and there isnt space to pass me until its clear. its frustrating for the vehicle behind, (Im going 15 MPH in a 30 zone) and depending on the driver can result in some risky overtakes or ‘close passes’.

Now Ive been getting ‘close passed’ for 35 years so Im not too bothered but theres something to comment on this very common sort of junction which is the point of this blog (if youre still reading). Its a 4 way stop for traffic at pedestrian activated lights. Now if I ride through the traffic light on red during the pedestrian phase, there would be zero risk to anyone else, as I would be starting off speed anyway- and it would mean that in either direction I would have cleared the junction enough to not cause frustration to following vehicles- great idea right? No, problem is its red light jumping, and as road peace missionary and cycle campaigner I cant do that as it gives everyone else on the road ammunition to berate ‘cyclists’ for breaking the red light rule. So I wait, now why is there this situation where bikes and pedestrians are separated, Whilst there are loads of NEW cycle tracks that are ‘shared’ pedestrian and cycles? Its entirely contradictory, on the one hand no mixing and at the same time increasing amounts of ‘shared’ cycle tracks being installed. Is it lack of ambition to build protected bike lanes?

Like the U.K attitude to Active travel, we know that its the answer to better places, but the status quo prevails. There is a whole Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan being published by BCP in September, huge possibilities for building new protected cycle tracks and my personal campaign to make what already exists better. Campaigning for better cycleways is wierd in the same way as the above mentioned situation. U.K now knows it should change its ways to travel actively, but it isnt generally yet doing so, we know its the solution to so many problems- but there are so many cultural barriers. Thanks for reading, below is a picture of a quality design which we would hope to see more of from BCP, dont delay time is running out. Its your tuesday- the best day of the week, what did you do today? that was what your life was about.

Actual protected Cycleway design


  1. yes, I may have prompted this, it was a reflection by me that 80% of collisions occur at junctions (and over 50% of those for bikes are being hit from behind), yet most of the effort on cycle provision is either on wide sections of road that disappears when it is most needed at narrowing, traffic islands and the like, and if anything happens at junctions, it is to disenfranchise and marginalise cycles to take a long route, join the pavement, give way at each arm. Jason’s idea is sensible, so probably no chance locally.

    • Thanks for the comment Andy. I can see exactly whats happening here- The BH Active Travel forum hasnt seen any schemes for about a year, thats because all work is going on writing the Transforming Cities for Future funding- more on that in a minute.
      If you read this post it describes how the Challenge fund money was spent by Poole, right up until end of 2018, (the crews were still onsite finishing Magna road until recently but it was same money). Ringwood road was also due to be in this set of works, yet it got put on the shelf (presumably because the money ran out)
      Now we havent seen any schemes for ages because no one knows if they will win money, if BCP do , then there will be a massive workload, and that will come after end of september 2019 with the LCWIP plans. So all staff are busy planning what can meet the criteria to win this funding bid, they arent continually designing, getting approved and then putting to consultation schemes like they should. The whole way work is done is a failure – instead of trying to write strategy to spend capital they could win, they should be continually designing schemes and paying for them through revenue funds (tell me if i got those funds streams wrong way around) so, if the win comes there will be a massive rush from a very small staff to try and get schemes done before the end of the financial year- just like Challenge fund money was used. Shoehorned in.
      DFT who are dishing the money for Transforming Cities Funds out ask this of Local Authorities- I quote “the Fund is not aimed at packages that simply deliver large numbers of smaller interventions across the board; it is seeking coherent programmes of interlinking interventions which will transform connectivity in key commuter routes…” and “whilst packages may include a number of smaller investments, the aim is for successful city regions to demonstrate clear prioritisation and recognition that a significant investment on a smaller number of corridors can have a big impact.”
      Now I can give for free loads that will transform my day every day as an Active Traveller, but these interventions are small beer. You can see why they fail to change the built environment when trying to fulfil those demands cant you?
      do comment.

      • Hi Andy / Jason

        Keep up the good work campaigning for better Poole cycle routes. I remember when i was a kid a friend of the family got hit on that pedestrian crossing and her femur broken!

        Good luck tonight Andy, you got my vote.


  2. Stephen Gray

    Absolutely right Jason.
    Unfortunately, while successive governments and the civil servants fail to provide any surety of future funding there will never really be the continuity of planning required to deliver the major significant schemes we all know are needed to make any real difference to active travel. Until that happens, we will be stuck with small beer corrections to infrastructure planning.

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