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Letter: New Forest’s pothole riddled roads must be made safe before cycling ‘Tube’ network introduced

So, if there is to be a ‘Tube Map’ of local ‘cycleways’, I have to observe as a local cyclist that our roads are now really dangerous due to the ever-increasing size and numbers of vehicles, and to the consequent disgraceful condition of the roads’ surfaces.

Reporting potholes through the Fix My Street website may produce a bodge after some weeks, but unless reported, large holes remain untouched. This is unacceptable. We are now all aware of the long-term harm of mechanised transport, so it is really urgent that we make cycling an attractive option to using the car, and not just for recreation. If cycling is made safe, and it could be, then many people would use a bike for all short journeys, particularly if they have an electric bike. Painting a “cycle route” bicycle on the nearside of the road, as on the lethal A337, is useless and dangerous. We need proper cycleways, to benefit the environment and people’s health.

Proposed cycling routes for the New Forest drawn in the style of a London Tube map
Proposed cycling routes for the New Forest drawn in the style of a London Tube map

How can this be achieved?

Well, I suggest that on busy roads we need to have improved pavements on which cyclists would be allowed, on condition of showing due consideration to pedestrians. Or else. My experience is that a quick dismount when meeting a pedestrian is greeted with thanks.

There is a real need for a safe cycle route from Lymington to Keyhaven and thus to Milford, and beyond. The ancient highway is a disgrace except in a drought, but could be improved to the Forest cycleways standard without great cost. I suggest that cycleway planning personnel should have to ride any routes under consideration, as looking at a map in the office is meaningless by comparison. Minor roads without pavements need to be made less hazardous on their nearside edges, as there are now increasingly frequent injuries from potholes.

All this requires action from the local and central government, and that only happens if there is sufficient pressure from constituents. I hope fellow cyclists will pressure our elected representatives to address this problem with urgency. I am sure I am not alone in demanding action.

(Dr) Tom McEwen (rtd)


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