Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hedge End's Quarter Million Pound Cycleway

Potential for conflict with pedestrians 
Poor visibility junction opposite Hobb Lane
£260,000 of a total handout of £15 million has been granted by the Department for Transport towards a shared-use cycleway between Hedge End and Botley.  Draft plans were published on Eastleigh Borough Council's web site at the end of last year, but they don't seem to have been well publicised, as the proposals are coming as a surprise to many local people.  Concerns have been raised about the safety at certain junctions along the proposed route, which is along the northern side of Lower Northam Road, across the Maypole Roundabout and along the A334 part of the way towards Botley.

Residents' Concerns

At one point a footpath linking Lower Northam Road with Allen Road meets the proposed cycleway and a brick wall will prevent pedestrians seeing if a bicycle is coming.

Mature trees and hedges will also need to be cut back along the section between the Hobb Lane junction and the roundabout.

 Get Your Bike Out of the Garage

The Council's Cycling Strategy is to encourage cycle use over the car for shorter journeys, and the Hedge End to Botley trip would seem to be an ideal candidate.  With petrol prices increasing inexorably, traffic queues in the centre of Hedge End getting longer, air pollution getting worse and a growing emphasis on a healthy life style with more exercise, a decent network of cycle paths is long overdue.  This initiative will also provide two safer crossing points for pedestrians in  Lower Northam Road near the Hilton Road and Hobb Lane junctions. 


Overturning decades of highway development during which everything was done to make car driving easier, more convenient and cheaper is never going to be easy and some compromise is going to be necessary.  It's a pity that cycle path will not go all the way to Botley, leaving cyclists to continue to share the busy A334 for the final section.  Perhaps the DfT grant will give the Council some leverage with the private landowners along the route to enable this to become a really useful cycleway.

It's also regrettable that the shared pedestrian / cycleway is only going to be 2.5m wide.  That's going to be a bit tight if a cyclist meets a pushchair or mobility scooter.  

If the Lib Dem plans to build 4000 houses in Botley and Woodhouse Lane come to fruition, all those extra cars trying to get to the M27 will have to cross this cycleway at some point, possibly at the Maypole Roundabout.  That's going to be interesting.

Still, if the Council finally gets a move on with this project (which was first approved in 1998, fourteen years ago!) Hedge End residents will have a few years to enjoy their new cycleway before all those additional cars start cutting across it.

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