Motorists claiming a new £1.12 million cycle lane leaves no room to make way for emergency vehicles say they have been vindicated – after a fire engine got stuck after months of warnings from road users.
The two new bike lanes in Bournemouth, Dorset, which are part of a £102 million local infrastructure scheme, are protected from traffic using a main A road by six-inch tall raised kerbs.
This has narrowed the carriageway on the A347 Whitelegg Way to 21 feet, leaving drivers complaining they are ‘hemmed’ in with nowhere to go.
Jeff Cosier said it was ‘impossible’ for the fire engine to get past and that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before a cyclist got hurt
Now drivers have been spotted veering fully into the cycle lane, having to drive over the huge curb, as a fire engine struggled to get through the traffic.
It comes months after a fire fighter warned that this very problem could have disastrous consequences for emergency service workers.
A car has previously gotten stuck on the tall curb between the road and the cycle way as it tried to make way for a police car.
Jeff Cosier said it was ‘impossible’ for the fire engine to get past and that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before a cyclist got hurt.
Motorists claiming a new £1.12 million cycle lane leaves no room to make way for emergency vehicles say they have been vindicated – after a fire engine got stuck after months of warnings from road users
The local BCP Council, however, continues to insist that drivers do not need to veer onto the cycle lane when they encounter emergency vehicles, despite emerging evidence to the contrary.
Mr Cosier, 50, said: ‘People were coming towards the fire engine and it got stuck for about 30 to 40 seconds.
‘Cars were pulling on to the bike lane. You can’t get a fire engine through there. It’s impossible.
‘I would not be prepared to drive up on the bike path. People were mounting the kerb which was quite incredible.
‘There weren’t any bikes there, if there was it could have caused a problem.
‘Before long a cyclist will get knocked over’.
In November 2021, a firefighter from Redhill Fire Station said the new cycle lanes prevented him travelling down Whitelegg Way in a fire engine.
He said: ‘It holds us up for a few minutes and for a fire that is a long time’.
Pictured: The high kerb on Whitelegg Way. A car has previously gotten stuck on the tall curb between the road and the cycle way as it tried to make way for a police car
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Stuart Gillion said: ‘We work closely with local authorities in relation to matters that affect road networks.
‘As key stakeholders, we are consulted on developments of the highway infrastructure across the counties of Dorset and Wiltshire, such as the Transforming Cities Fund – Transforming Travel programme.
‘Any development of the highway is subject to governance by the Department for Transport to ensure they can be used safely by all vehicles, including the emergency services’.
A spokesperson for BCP Council said: ‘It is not necessary for drivers to mount the cycleway on Whitelegg Way if they encounter emergency services under blue lights.
‘The carriageway width on Whitelegg Way adheres to national standards set by the Department for Transport and can be used safely by all vehicles, including emergency services vehicles.
‘Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service has not raised any issues about using Whitelegg Way’.
According to the highway code, motorists are instructed not to ‘endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb’.