Friday 2 August 2013

Another Exciting Avenue for Dissing Cyclists!

I'm referring in the title to our county wide community website, Shapeyourplace.

Primarily its a place you can post data relating to things happening in your locality. It can be a suggestion that trees should be planted here, pavement parking is a problem there, and you can rest assured a friendly local police or council officer will be along shortly to tell you that they're going to do nothing whatsoever to enforce the law.

But its more than that. Its also a great place to complain about cyclists who are just minding their own business.

This contribution is has a familiar ring to it. Talking about 'perfectly good cycle paths or lanes' that cyclists are choosing not to use, instead being 'selfishly in the middle' of the bus lane. So the writer concludes 'we should ban cyclists from using them' or just not have bus lanes.

But this is the best bit:
But evewn after proviidng perfectly good cyclepaths and without forcing them to use the cyclepath, there will still be the odd ‘I have a right to use the road’ stickler who will insist on staying on the road at 2mph all the way to the top. This is not an anti-cyclist rant, more an observation of a problem or two to see if anyone else has noticed any of these or can come up with better solutions without getting aggressive.
Hang on, not aggressive? Are you really saying that the cyclists using the road are 'sticklers' but this isn't an aggressive rant? You're going to try to convince us that cyclists are going more slowly than walking pace spcifically to slow the bus down but you don't want us to view you as anti-cyclist? 

Okay, I don't want to be too critical of this individual, but I do see this as an excellent example of the kind of nonsense we're so often accused of. It probably hasn't occurred to the writer that there's more to a cycle route being good than whether it exists. It needs to be wide enough, yes, but it also needs good visibility for those entering, a good surface, space to overtake, access to other routes that link in to it, safety at junctions, priority over side roads, and to be well laid out. If I'm going to have to turn off the route at some point and turn left across the road I'll probably have to be on the road. If the surface isn't sufficient to allow me to cycle at my normal cruising speed then then I can't ride on the bike lane. And if at the end I'm abandoned with no serious way on or off a roundabout then sorry, but I'll use a road.

I also don't really want to be in a bus lane. I've got to take a position in said lane such that the bus can't squeeze me off the road - that means the bus will end up being delayed behind me. Its unavoidable, but if junctions from the off-road lane are dangerous for me, and the bus drivers on the bus lane have a tendency to pass frighteningly close, thats the only option available to me.

The evidence for this? The fact that cyclists choose to be on-road rather than on the cycle lane. The idea that we're just being contrary or exercising our rights out of principle is nonsense. No one chooses to ride a bicycle in front of a bus for fun, we're doing so because the other options don't work.

It would be nice if people who aren't cyclists stopped assuming the worst of us when we're just trying to get from A to B. How long until we break down that prejudice?


  1. I was going to write a blogpost on that site, but in the end I couldn't be bothered. Here's the post I was going to write:

    "Cycle lanes in Cambridge that actively encourage dangerous cycling, placing cyclists in danger are commonplace. This an unfortunate fact, but one that is evident in such mind-numbing obvious-ness in one location that I have no concept of how it was allowed. Perhaps not a single person involved in designing and approving the road knew how to cycle safely. This is scary. The alternative of course is they did know, and did it anyway. Take your pick, they're both an appalling indictment of the road planning process in Cambridge (a cycling hotspot).

    An indictment further evidenced by the redesign of the crossroads by the Catholic church. Guess what, a horrible, cycle unfriendly junction is being completely rebuilt! Into another one. Ha! Take that you pavement riding, red light skipping, eco-warrior, poor, student-y, lycra-louty scofflaws on bikes! **** you!

    The location in question, though I'm sure there are more, is Trumpington Road, as it passes the Botanical Gardens. A cycle lane that goes through the door-zone for a significant distance where cars are frequently parked nose to tail.* No big deal you say?

    That is why you don't ride in the door zone. That is why you never ride in the door zone. Life changing injuries or death are not matters to be dismissed by the local council (or anybody, for that matter).

    These cycle lanes cause several issues:

    -They encourage cyclists to ride in a hazardous manor (the aforementioned door zone)
    -If a cyclist is sensible, making the choice not to use them, drivers get pissed off because your not cycling in the large, signed, cycle lane. Understandably so. I drive, I get that you get pissed of when I'm not in the cycle lane. It's not because I want to get in your way and slow you down, it's because it would be stupid, and dangerous to stay in the cycle lane.

    Thing is a driver is inside 2 tonnes of metal. They'll likely be okay in a collision from a close pass, or whatever, at 30mph. Mr. or Ms. Cyclist? They might be dead. That's why cyclists get angry sometimes by the way. When you cut me up, or overtake as I'm parking passed cars, or leave an inch off my handlebar, or left hook me, or right hook me, you're risking my life. So if I shout, or swear, think on that before you stereotype me. Oh it's just another angry cyclist. Probably skips red lights (I don't). Or cycles on the pavement (I don't). And even if I did, it doesn't justify killing me.

    On that note lets take a quick look at the figures. In 2006,7,8,9 and 10 the grand total of pedestrians killed by cyclists in the UK on the road or pavement was (drum roll please), 14. The number killed by drivers was 1,011. That's not funny at all. 1,025 people (human beings), with feelings, with families, and people who love them. So if we're to save as many as possible in the future, who should we focus on? Cyclists, or drivers? You tell me.


  2. ...

    In summary:
    -There are cycle lanes and junctions that place people in danger in Cambridge, or are generally poor quality
    -These are STILL being built (eg. new catholic church junction)
    -There is bad feeling towards cyclists at times, largely unjustified
    -Little to nothing is being done about any of it

    -The problematic cycle lanes and junctions need to be changed. Rebuilt. With facilities that are up to scratch. That means when you build a segregated cycle lane it has the same priority as the road over side roads and private residences. That it's surface is smooth, and that broken glass is cleared from it regularly. Lighting during the night should be considered.

    -There needs to be a rethink, and change in approach to how developments are carried out. One that puts pedestrians, public transport and cyclists at the fore, not drivers (why is coming up).

    -Education of drivers about cycling is vital. This town has one of the highest levels of cycling in the UK. It's drivers SHOULD know how to drive around them. Some don't. I didn't know much (when driving) until I started cycling. It's not really mentioned in the driving test. Certainly not enough

    -Enforcement of laws relating to bad driving is important (and not done enough). So when the police are sent out to target 'anti-social cycling', perhaps prioritise. Are more people killed by anti-social cycling, or anti social driving?

    If you're wondering why increasing cycling safety is important:
    -IT SAVES LIVES. This is a good thing.
    -It gets more people cycling (safety is one of the major concerns for would-be cyclists), taking cars off the road, decreasing congestion (for those that can't, or won't, cycle that means you can drive to work quicker). This is a good thing.
    -With less cars, ambulances, police cars and fire engines can all respond quicker. HGVs can deliver quickly These are good things.
    -With more journeys being cycled, not driven, the environmental impact of transport is reduced.

    *For the record I have contacted the council about these particular cycle lanes. I received no response. The cycle lanes can clearly be seen on Google maps for anyone interested."

  3. I didn't proof read all of that too well. It should be 'passing parked' not 'parking passed'. Forgive any other errors.

  4. Eloquently put Peter91! But the level of detail you've added would, I fear, be wasted on that site :(

  5. Indeed, that's why I didn't bother. The attitude towards cycling is so incredible frustrating.