CAMPAIGNERS are closer than ever to getting a much-needed cycle route at an accident blackspot.
For years cyclists have been forced to dodge traffic on the A3 Butser cutting, north of Clanfield, as there is no hard shoulder.
The six-mile stretch, near Queen Elizabeth Country Park, is so notorious that most cyclists choose to avoid it, meaning there is no continuous route connecting the Waterlooville area with Petersfield.
But, after 10 years of campaigning and almost 2,000 signatures on a petition, cyclists are finally getting somewhere.
Hampshire County Council is spending £15,000 on a six-month feasibility study for a cycle route along the old A3, which is now a disused track used by walkers through the Butser cutting.
Until now, the Highways Agency, which owns the A3 and the old A3, has said a cycle route was unfeasible and it had no cash to fund it.
Mike Ashton, a CTC cycling campaigner from Horndean, said: ‘There’s a good prospect now that it will happen.
‘It will open up access to Queen Elizabeth Country Park from the north.
‘It will allow more people to cycle across the Downs.
‘It should allow a commute between Petersfield and Waterlooville which is not really feasible at the moment. It will also allow access to things like Petersfield station from Clanfield.’
He said riding along the carriageway was completely unsafe.
‘You don’t really want to be riding within a meter of a 40-ton truck going at 70mph,’ said Mr Ashton.
The county council has been allocated £3.8m for sustainable transport projects in the New Forest and South Downs National Parks.
The new Butser route could be one of the projects to get funding.
A statement from the county council said: ‘The council is about to start a feasibility study to find out whether a cycle route could be viable along the old A3, connecting Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth Country Park. This would include looking at funding sources.
‘The council will be working closely with the Highways Agency, The Forestry Commission, South Downs National Park Authority and CTC.’