One of the positive results emerging from the Covid19 emergency has been a significant increase in the number of people using their feet to transport themselves. The growing number of people walking and cycling as part of their daily exercise regime and to move around the town more generally is evident.
This is a wonderful change that is extremely beneficial to our personal and environmental health and well-being. By using our cars less we are reducing our carbon footprints and creating cleaner air to breathe. All round this change in our movement habits is a win-win situation that we need to maintain and actively encourage. Walking or cycling to work, school, shops and more generally around town is increasingly becoming the norm and more often than not is quicker than travelling by car.
It is not without its challenges though. Our transport corridors have for decades been designed around the use of motor vehicles and as a consequence pedestrian and cycling space has been squeezed to accommodate them. Bridport town centre is fortunate in having wide high streets and pavements. However, there are a number of places where roads and pavements narrow causing pinch points at the best of times and make conforming to current social distancing rules very difficult.
In recent weeks the Town Council has been contacted by a number of people to report incidents of what they described as antisocial cycling. We are also aware of one recent incident in which as a result of a collision with a cyclist on a narrow walkway, a pedestrian required hospital treatment. Instances of cyclists riding on pavements, riding furiously on shared cycleways, crossing zebra crossings when pedestrians are still using them and jumping red lights are being reported more often.
Sadly the actions of the few are impacting on the image of the overwhelming majority of responsible cyclists. That said it is worth noting that 98.5% of pedestrian fatalities and 96% of pedestrian serious injuries on a pavement or verge involve a motor vehicle not a cycle.
The Town Council has made a number of changes to East, West and South streets to enable people to walk along them and maintain safe social distances. This includes the temporary removal of planters; the application of smiley faces and footprints outside shops to indicate safe queueing distances; the relocation of market stalls off pavements into lay-bys onto Bucky Doo Square and the Arts Centre forecourt. Over the past two years considerable work has taken place to improve and create safe walking and cycling routes e.g to West Bay, and along the A35 and Beaminster Roads. In addition, the Council is currently in consultation with Dorset Highways to bring in further measures that will mean our town centre becomes a more safe and pleasurable place to walk and cycle.
Bridport prides itself on being a Rights Respecting town. As such I urge all pavement and road users to be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities and more importantly be considerate and respectful of others around you whether they or you be on foot or wheels.