Friday, 17 June 2011

Tidal Power

A meeting tonight at Bournemouth University, talking about a community project to potentially trap energy from the tides in Poole Harbour. If we can get enough supporters to sign up.

Lots of interest from relevant official bodies and others around Poole, and the university are keen to participate. Quick turnaround required for the bid process.

If you can, please support us before the end of June 2011, click the 'support this group' on

Weymouth to Dorchester Relief - not quite

From the station at Upwey, there was no indication of which way to the relief road. I had an inkling that it was towards Littlemoor, so I headed through the railway arch and eastbound. Not too far on, and the road started to rise, the bridge over the new road. There was a large path down to the left - no markings as a cycleway, or that it led to Dorchester. Must be it.

The first part was good - a wide and very flat tarmac path running around the outside of a large lagoon presumably constructed to take surface water from the road. This all looked very raw and bleak, I am sure the willows will arrive of their own accord, though attaching to the sloping black plastic will be a challenge. Too soon it bent back to the road, and then too close for pleasure. Traffic engineers seem to have no concept of separation, or the need for oxygen rather than Carbon Monoxide, and some screening from noise and windage.

A bit further up and there was a farmtrack bridge across the road. Oh no, the cyclepath shot up the gradient, and then gave half the gains back in descending to rejoin the road. Do these planners have no idea about the importance of gradients ?

But worse was to come as the main cut up the Ridgeway came into view. A sign lying on the path - cyclists join main carriageway. A John McEnro moment. What, you cannot be serious ? Ignored it and cycled on a bit further. No, the path definately stopped, or more worryingly, a sub-path took a sharp left turn down to where some workmen were presumably creating some horrendous detour. OK, the road it was. Three traffic lanes, but no off or on-road cycle provision, let alone the broad wobble lane that should have been a minumum. What do these clowns think they are providing ?

So I get to the top, it has been drizzling all the way from the station. Two cyclist were tolling up ahead
of me, and I suddenly spot them on the other side of the road, stopped to add waterproof trousers. What, the cycleway suddenly reappears on the other side of the road. No gaps in the traffic to swap sides. My blood is now boiling with rage at the lack of sensible design or care for how this can sensibly be used. I continue along the road to Monkton Park, taking the opportunity of a gap to cross. Cyclepaths on one side is only half a provision.

And on down the path to the Bypass Roundabout. Ultimate insult on a cycleway, "cyclists dismount" sign. These guys really have no idea. With the extra lanes, it takes a while to catch a gap, and just after the roundabout, the cycleway ends (another sign). No drop kerb, no on-road provision thereafter (wrong side of the road anyhow). Stupid, stupid, stupid. Welcome to Dorchester. So I cycle along to the entrance to Tescos, and join the lane out from there. The car turning right into Tescos gives way, but two cars inside him have no intention of obeying their stop lines, the first would have hit me if I'd stuck to my rights. The second was following blind.

So overall, Dorset County Council seem to have squandered loads of money on a very poorly designed cycleway. Given this is attached to the biggest road scheme in Dorset for years, it is tragic that they can get it so badly wrong, through such a series of compromises to usability.

Perils of working on the train

Today started badly. I am tring to use the bike for work as much as I can. Sometimes combined with the train, which can be a strain.

This is either in one direction, a 10 mile one hour trek (I'm not a fast cyclist) to Ferndown across Canford Heath (which is lovely but slow), then through a housing estate in Bearwood, and up a scary bit of road through Longham Bridge and Ringwood Road.

Or it is a short cycle to the station, train to Dorchester South, and either a short cycle to one of the Dorchester or Poundbury offices, or a longer trip to Forston Clinic, north of Charminster, and half an hour by bike.

So I set off in good time for the train, buying tickets in both directions as my afternoon meeting was in Bournemouth. Knowing the weather was forecast wet, I had overtrousers, but no change of clothes, as the distances are short.

With a new blackberry (a handoff that was better than my previous one), I was busy reading a long email on a knotty problem. Upway was announced.  Oops we were in Dorchester already. Rushing along the carriage, although still stationary, the doors were locked, a victim to the pressures for meeting targets rather than serving customers. So much for being early.

Have found before, but quickly established that there was no train to get quickly back, especially with one cancelled in either direction. The half hourly service from Dorchester is actually 2 trains about a quarter of an hour apart, then a long gap. As the train descended through a long tunnel I realised I would have to cycle back up this hill, and Upwey station itself sits on an embankment above the surrounds. Perhaps there would be a Bath bound train at Upwey. Er no, it is only a two hourly service after all.

So I alighted. Ok, there's a new cycleway with the Weymouth Relief road, will just have to cycle back. That will be interesting

Thursday, 16 June 2011

No gyratory please !

Poole council are pursuing a plan to make West Street and West Quay Road a massive triple gyratory system, which will isolate pedestrians and make cycling difficult and dangerous. The vision of the bridge enabling the regeneration to link seamlessly with the existing old town appears to have long since been abandoned in favour of a racetrack route festooned with traffic signals.

Have tried to object to the Transport Advisory Group, the Economy Overview and Scrutiny committee, and this is due to go to full council on Tuesday.

Individually, several councillors have shared our concerns, but on the decision, will they be prepared to put aside outdated designs in favour of a more people-centric alternative ? I fear not.