Parts of the area of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will ‘grind to a halt’ unless more people can be persuaded away from their cars, BCP Council’s transport chief has warned.
The prediction was issued to the latest meeting of the ruling cabinet by the member for sustainability and transport, Cllr Mike Greene.
He said the area was one of the most congested in the country and clogged up roads would only get worse unless something was done.
Introducing the council’s plan to promote walking and cycling, he said that more than 15% of current journeys to and from work are less than 2km, a distance which could be walked in 25 minutes or cycled in six.
He said half of the work journeys are capable of being cycled in less than 15 minutes. “If we could resolve that the whole congestion problem would go away – but we will need to provide safe routes to do that,” he said.
Cllr Green said that outline plans are being progressed for 2km walking zones based around the three main town centres with 1km zones to follow at 17 district centres.
He promised full consultation on each of the plans being worked on, together with other safe cycling and walking routes, writes Trevor Bevins of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The meeting heard the additional benefits would be less pollution and improved health with financial savings from less car use.
Poole councillor Andy Hadley called for the council’s strategy to also persuade people to feel safe to walk and cycle for leisure trips.
Cllr Green said in the introduction to the council’s walking and cycling infrastructure plan: “There is no space to build new roads. As we build back from the pandemic, we cannot afford to slip back into old habits that cause congestion and harmful pollution.
“Our streets and areas will be safer for cycling and walking, and our residents will enjoy a healthier, more connected community. We will be a place where cycling and walking is the natural choice for getting about, particularly for short journeys.”
Government proposals say that by 2030 half of all short, urban journeys should be made by cycling or walking.
It has confirmed that councils which do not have a cycling and walking improvement plan in place will not receive funding for active travel schemes.