CTC West Dorset and the Dorset Cyclists' Network submitted our comments to Dorset County Council in response to the Weymouth and Portland Cycling and Walking Strategy. The Weymouth and Portland Cycling and Walking Strategy is not available on the Dorset County Council web site but it can be downloaded via the icons at the end of our comments which are as follows:

Layout of comments:

Weymouth and Portland Walking and Cycling Strategy


The final draft of the Walking and Cycling Strategy was prepared by Dorset County Council (DCC) officers. If adopted it will replace the year 2000 Local Transport Plan which is now 72% completed. The West Dorset Section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) and the Weymouth and Portland Branch of the Dorset Cyclists’ Network (DCN) were invited to take part in consultation on 18th September 2009.

Executive Summary of the CTC/DCN Consultation.

The draft Walking and Cycling Strategy does not include the following:

The draft Walking and Cycling Strategy does include the following (Section 3):

The CTC/DCN recommendations following consultation

Detailed Consultation

1. Background

For nine years the strategy for cycling in Weymouth and Portland has been the year 2000 Local Transport Plan. In July 2000 Dorset County Council set itself a target of a 50% increase in cycling by the year 2005.

The Council abandoned the 50% target, replacing it in March 2006 with a target to increase cycling by only 10% by the year 2011. The actual increase so far is much lower at around 2%.

By September 2009 18km of the 25km of cycle routes included in the 2000 LTP (72%) have been completed. The Walking and Cycling Strategy indicates that by 2012 another 2km will be completed and in addition 5km of routes for the Olympics.

The Walking and Cycling Strategy if adopted would replace the 2000 LTP before the more difficult parts of the LTP are completed.

The Walking and Cycling Strategy is entirely officer produced. There was no consultation with councillors, stakeholders or users.

2. Previous undertakings given to the cycling groups

The following undertakings were given. The Walking and Cycling Strategy should meet these commitments:

Martin Hendry, for DCC, gave the following undertaking to the Inspector at the relief road public enquiry. The Walking and Cycling Strategy meets none of these (appendix 1)

Matthew Piles, DCC project manager (then) for the “Olympic Legacy Project”, gave a presentation to the DCN on 3rd September 2007. He said that £3.4m has been allocated from the DCC Local Transport Plan (LTP) budget to fund the Weymouth and Portland cycle schemes. (Appendix 2)

Jim Knight MP, in a letter to the CTC, stated that “the completion of the cycle route along Portland Beach Road is my number one priority”. It would now seem that DCC has no early plan to deliver this route. (Appendix 3)

On 24th July 2008 Weymouth and Portland Borough Council reversed a three year old decision to allow cycling on the promenade. The Management Committee agreed to seek a safe alternative route as a priority but did not do so. (Appendix 4)

3. Cycle Routes

The Walking and Cycling Strategy indicates that £650,000 of the DCC LTP budget will be spent on cycle routes up until 2012. It naturally gives priority to the Olympic delivery routes but these are unlikely to enable the planned long term increase in cycle use within the Borough.

The CTC and DCN, being county wide organisations, are concerned that this will be achieved by using most of the DCC budget for the whole county in Weymouth and Portland until 2012. After 2012 there will be severe budget restraints county wide on carrying out any work on cycling infrastructure, or many other things.

We refer to the Walking and Cycling Strategy Appendix 4 - Local Priority Assessment and Tables 4, 5 and 6. These, particularly Appendix 4, form the basis of the Walking and Cycling Strategy. The scoring system used is inappropriate. Even if it were appropriate the scores given are incorrect and appear to be skewed to justify building the Olympic access routes.

CTC/DCN route priorities are as follows, figures in brackets indicate DCC officer priorities

  1. Cycling Realm - Measures to make all local cycle trips safer and more attractive including signage, lower speed limits. and a central hub at the transport interchange. (DCC priority 5, delivery by 2016)

  2. Weymouth to Portland Castle (DCC priority 9, delivery by 2016)

  3. Weymouth to Chalbury Corner (DCC priority 3 part of the route only, delivery 2011/12)

  4. Weymouth to Broadway (DCC priority 1 part of the route only, delivery 2011/12)

  5. Links to and from existing routes Wessex/Granby route to Southill, Chickerell and Budmouth College (DCC has not included these routes)

  6. National Cycle Network from Portland Castle to Portland Bill (DCC has not included this route)

  7. Cycling on the promenade (DCC has not included this route).

Cycling Realm

The “Cycling Realm” alone would deliver a substantial increase in cycling. The Department for Transport, in its publication 02/08, gives a hierarchical use of infrastructure. This is similar to that included on page 10 of the Walking and Cycling Strategy. Lower speed limits, particularly 20mph limits in residential areas, would deliver increased cycle use without the need for any substantial infrastructure.

DCN has a detailed list of Borough wide low cost measurers to link and sign the existing cycle routes in the Borough. These were submitted to WPBC in 2006 with Ordnance Survey map references.

Most cyclists and potential cyclists want “Cycling Realm” delivery first. Non cyclists, when surveyed, claim that the main reason they do not cycle is because of the perception of danger. Existing cyclists surveyed, including those new to cycling, prefer to cycle safely on the roads rather than on pavement cycle routes.

Cycling Realm” gives people what they need. It will deliver a substantial increase in cycle use. It will deliver the largest improvement in road safety. Absurdly it has zero points allocated in this category. (Strategy Appendix 4 - Local Priority Assessment)

Weymouth to Portland Castle

Completion of this route is crucial for

Despite all these priorities it is only graded 9 in the Strategy document and again absurdly it has only 5 points allocated in the road safety category. (Appendix 4 - Local Priority Assessment). Had it been allocated at least 60 points like the other less dangerous routes it would have been =2 using DCC’s own rating system.

The Connect2 project, which brings in £510,000 of new funding for cycling in the WPBC area, is at risk without the connection to Portland and other parts of Weymouth. To put this amount into perspective this exceeds the ODA funding and it is also likely to assist in triggering further funding via Sustrans.

It is the CTC/DCN view that this route has been downgraded because it is the most difficult to implement for environmental reasons. We consider that DCC staff efforts should now be redirected to achieve this crucial route for the Borough before 2012. This should be formalised in the Walking and Cycling Strategy.

Weymouth to Chalbury Corner

This route formed part of the LTP in 2000 and was then, as now, an essential route for a very large population area. It also serves all sections of the local community and holiday visitors staying at the caravan parks. Cycling is an ever increasing leisure activity for our visitors. The Walking and Cycling Strategy proposal is for it to end at Overcombe rather than in the Chalbury Corner area.

WPBC has agreed to remove the current restrictions placed on cycling on the Preston Beach sea defences. This route should use the Preston Beach sea wall from Overcombe to Sluice Gardens. From this point to the town centre the route becomes limiting in its appeal. From Sluice Gardens there needs to be a direct route to the town centre. This will be popular with both commuters and visitors.

The convoluted route in the Walking and Cycling Strategy will therefore need substantial revision both to provide access to and from the Preston Beach sea wall at Sluice Gardens and to encourage cycling by being more direct. Please also see the section below related to cycling on the Weymouth Promenade.

Weymouth to Broadwey

This route formed part of the LTP in 2000 and was then, as now, an essential route for the very large population areas adjacent to Dorchester Road.

The Walking and Cycling Strategy Redlands Route is primarily designed to serve a temporary park and ride site for the Olympics. It has very limited access from Littlemoor and no planned access from the Upwey and Broadwey conurbations. The narrow section of Dorchester Road between the Nottington Lane Junction and the current Littlemoor Road junction will discourage cycling to school or work. There is no indication in the Walking and Cycling Strategy that any provision will be made for cyclists in this area.

Cycling Network on Portland (DCC has not included this)

The Walking and Cycling Strategy ignores the needs of the 14,000 people who live on Portland. Please see Weymouth to Portland Castle above. National Cycle Route 26 has a start and finish point at Portland Bill and this is not included in this Strategy.

Cycling on the Promenade (DCC has not included this route)

The Walking and Cycling Strategy should bring pressure on WPBC to allow cycling on the Promenade and to adopt the governments model byelaws.

The Promenade is a popular, direct and safe route between Sluice Gardens and Brunswick Terrace avoiding the dangerous Greenhill one way system. On 24th July 2008 Weymouth and Portland Borough Council reversed a three year old decision to allow cycling on the Promenade. Prior to this reversal cycling was to be permitted during the winter and for the evening and morning commutes in the summer. At the time of the reversal the WPBC Management Committee agreed to seek a safe alternative “as a priority”. In response to a recent DCN question WPBC used the circular argument that as this route was excluded from the Walking and Cycling Strategy document it was not required.

The Walking and Cycling Strategy Priority Routes

4. Connect2

This should be the core part of the Walking and Cycling Strategy but is not referred to in the Strategy. The organisations which enabled this scheme have been largely ignored in the preparation of the Walking and Cycling Strategy. They now need to be fully involved prior to the Strategy’s adoption.

CTC West Dorset, a voluntary organisation, prepared and submitted the Connect2 application. They discussed the scheme with the Chief Executive of Sustrans and WPBC.  The CTC efforts ensured that the scheme was selected by Sustrans to be short listed from the long list of some 500 schemes.  The CTC obtained formal support from six other voluntary organisations to make the proposal viable.  The CTC funded attendance at the Connect2 promotional conferences and worked tirelessly to gain public support and the public vote which ensured £350,000 being allocated by Sustrans in December 2007.  The CTC is constantly dealing with public enquiries with regard to the project and the delay in its construction.

5. Standards/delivery

The Walking and Cycling Strategy should include a firm commitment to comply with the Department for Transport Note 02/08. Officers have currently expressed the view that they will comply with it where possible. CTC/ DCN consider that a much stronger commitment needs to be included in the Walking and Cycling Strategy. Sub standard routes like those on Portland Beach Road and on part of the Wessex Route are dangerous. They will do nothing to encourage new cyclists and the number of cyclists will not increase. Poor construction standards are counter productive and waste money which could otherwise be spent on other projects.

6. Consultation

Successful cycle schemes need to be driven from the grass roots up. The Walking and Cycling Strategy has been driven by DCC officers downwards. If it is implemented in its current form it is likely to fail in all of its main objectives. The legacy from the Olympics proposed by the Walking and Cycling Strategy will thus be very limited.

The 1st draft of the Walking and Cycling Strategy was prepared in July 2008. The CTC and DCN, both major stakeholders, were not consulted until 18th September 2009. By this time it was a “Final Draft”. Other consultees should include a wide range of organisations. Schools and health services should be included as well as major employers and the providers of holiday accommodation and facilities. This list should be published, together with a summary of any comments they have made, before the Walking and Cycling Strategy is adopted.

The Walking and Cycling Strategy includes some of the information provided to DCC and WPBC by the CTC/DCN. There are however serious omissions:

Appendix 1

3. In DCC/REB/CPRE at paragraph 19, page 5, Martin Hendry states:

At 4.2.8 it is stated that the five cycleways listed in the first LTP (2000) could ‘at last be constructed’. Of these routes, the route from the town centre to Portland is 50% complete (the remaining part will be completed as part of the Olympic transport package), the routes to Chalbury and Southill are complete and the route to Chickerell is substantially complete. The scheme will enable the route to Broadwey to be implemented.”

Appendix 2

Olympic Legacy

Presentation to the DCN (Weymouth and Portland) Committee, 3rd September 2007

Matthew Piles, DCC project manager for the project, gave a presentation on 3rd September 2007. £18m has been allocated to this project and a further £3.4m has been allocated from the DCC Local Transport Plan (LTP) budget. The funding for cycle schemes will be from the LTP money.

We agreed that we would not discuss the Weymouth Relief Road project. It became apparent that these measures are not affected by the road. In fact if they were already in place the need for the road would be even more difficult to justify.

With or without the Olympics a very substantial increase in road vehicles is forecast. We all hope that the models which predict this will be overtaken by events. These include the increase in fuel prices and the effects of climate change. From a cyclists’ point of view these predictions present a dilemma. With the exception of the relief road there will be little increase in the road infrastructure in the area. Basically our roads will become busier leaving less space for cyclists. Road cycling is likely to become both more dangerous and unpleasant. We will of course insist on our right to ride on the road and for cyclists’ safety to be a prime consideration. The Olympic Legacy gives us a once in a lifetime chance to have a proper network of routes away from busy roads. We must not miss it.

The proposals are almost futuristic and contrast dramatically with the usual outdated proposals from the local authorities. Of the £18m almost half will be spent on digital technology in the form of Intelligent Transport Systems. Buses will be tracked by GPS or radar and information provided at bus stops and on the buses. They will also be tracked and given priority where traffic becomes congested. Information will also be provided to vehicles entering the area on congestion and parking. Emphasis will be placed on park and ride and, as mentioned above, priority will be given to buses serving them. It is a carrot and stick approach. If motorists insist on going into congested areas they will watch the buses receiving priority and find it difficult if not impossible to park. We could have the most advanced traffic control scheme in the country.

About half of the money will be spent on changes to the roads. This will include a major public transport interchange at the rail station and some widening to allow buses through. As mentioned above we need to press for safe on road cycle facilities particularly at junctions. We also need to press for a reduction in vehicle speeds encouraged by road design and speed limits. We should aim for 20mph limits in all residential roads. On road cycle lanes are unlikely but we will be able to use the bus lanes.

As mentioned above, £3.4m has been allocated for schemes for cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users from the DCC LTP. Unfortunately this will result in a reduction of expenditure in the rest of the county. This is serious in a county which gives so little priority or money to cycling or public transport. For example, the very dangerous Wareham to Poole route will be at risk.

Within the Weymouth area, which itself is not defined, plans are not yet in place for cycle routes. The Project Manager has asked for a top ten wish list and following consultation by email with 49 Weymouth and Portland cycling families the list was submitted to him.

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

The following minute of the Council meeting on 24th July 2008 refers:

Minute 4(b) (i) (d)

RESOLVED: that the Council will endeavour to provide facilities for cycling between the Pavilion and the Sluice gates as a matter of great importance.”  This followed a recommendation from the Management Committee. 

If you would like to read the Dorset County Council Walking and Cycling Strategy please download it here. These are very large files and this may take a while:

PDF documentThis is the body of the Dorset County Council Walking and Cycling Strategy

PDF documentThese are the maps and drawings associated with the Dorset County Council Walking and Cycling Strategy