I live in the small town of Highcliffe which still comes under the term of "village", just outside the Town of Christchurch in the County of Dorset.
Highcliffe "proper" is approximately 75% of retirees (so I am told). To the north and further into Christchurch there does exist a secondary school with the name of Highcliffe, not because there are many children living in Highcliffe but because the school is slightly closer to Highcliffe than Christchurch, although not part of Highcliffe.
Chewton Bunny to build a bmx track that would not only have destroyed the habitat of the wild life but would have also torn apart the seafront and hills.
Chewton Bunny along with the beach and hills is a quiet dog walking, family cycling, and strollers area. Hundreds of people a year take pleasure all year around from the beauty of this virtually untouched site.
Chewton Bunny and Hampshire County Council were very quick to step in and say "No". The bmx idea has now been shelved but not completely forgotten about by Dorset Council.
I have yet to investigate these paths personally but I am told that these recreational areas are used by only a very small handful of the children that live on the council estate.
So it does seem as if Dorset County Council and Christchurch Town Council do have money for cycling. But what are they doing about everyday safe cycling on our roads and trying to encourage people out of their cars and onto bikes?
Not a lot when one looks at my personal journey into the town of Christchurch.
From my home in Highcliffe to Christchurch town which is 4.5 miles, for 3.5 of those miles Christchurch Council have turned the pavement on one side of the road into shared pedestrian/cyclist use.
This lane by passes a part of the Christchurch bypass. Reasonably comfortable to use during spring/summer daylight hours but most certainly not by a lone woman, children or the elderly during darkness. Most groups of cyclists stay in single file because cars come up very quickly behind you when a car or farm vehicle does come along.
Going into Christchurch town one only has to cross this one road of this 5 way roundabout. To cycle to the Retail Park one has to cross 3 of these roads before turning off on a road that has no pavement for either cycles or pedestrians. None of the other roads on this roundabout have a safe place for pedestrians or cyclists to cross. This photo on the right is taken showing the vehicles joining the roundabout which is on the left.
I find it a very sad state of affairs that Dorset Council wanted to, and are still hoping to be able to, spend millions of pounds to create a bmx park in a town/village where approximately 75% of the residents are retired. Yet they have spent peanuts on putting up a few cycle/pedestrian signs on pavements along a main bypass that people have to join from various parts of Christchurch to visit the town, commute, or simply visit friends and family.
The money exists, the roads are wide enough, so what on earth is going on in our planning departments.
No wonder parents drive their kids to school, no wonder people take the car to town or to the retail park, no wonder no one even contemplates leaving the car behind and cycle instead. And no wonder pensioners like myself newly taking to bikes, families, and the few kids that do cycle to school, ride mostly on pavements now. It seems that in my town pavement cycling is the first choice of the council and therefore we are tending to think if we are allowed to ride on this pavement, then we are going to ride on that pavement too; be it illegal or not.