Proposal for Pavement Cycle Track
We were asked to comment on a proposal to move the on road cycle lane between Knightthorpe Road and Byron Street Extension onto the pavement. After considerable debate in the yahoo forum, this is the response we made:
We have some concerns with the proposals. They need to be viewed within the context of the A6 as it passes through the urban area of Loughborough (from the bridge over the Great Central Railway in the south to the Bishop Meadow roundabout to the north). This is a main route with a high level of motor traffic often travelling at speed. The route is used by cyclists of all types with high pedestrian use. Consequently we believe that high quality segregated provision is appropriate for the route, suitable for all types of cyclists i.e. acceptable to cyclists travelling at up to 20mph. It is important that cyclists can complete their journeys as efficiently as possible, if people are to be encouraged to cycle rather than take the car.
Currently the route for cyclists along the A6 is a mish-mash of incoherent arrangements, set up in a pragmatic fashion over many years, to make some provision for cyclists at minimal cost. This has resulted in:
- Sections with no cycle infrastructure. Usually at junctions or traffic islands. Both dangerous places for cyclists where they need maximum help.
- Sections with mandatory cycle lanes (solid white line) such as the section under consideration outside Ring O Bells. However, these are narrower than the standards suggest (0.9m at Ring O Bells) and are anything but continuous. In many places the paint marking them has all but faded away.
- Sections with permissive cycle lanes (dashed white lines). All the same problems as the mandatory lanes but with the added expectation that vehicles will use the space.
- Sections of cycle track on the pavement marked by white lines and sometimes different colour surface.
- A mixture of single direction and two way sections, including two way sections less than 1m wide (which is less than half the recommendation for one way).
- Sections of shared use pavement. Some well under the 3m recommendation. These come and go with little clarity as to where they apply.
The proposal involves cyclists having to stop at side roads. Currently cyclists are on the main carriageway and have right of way at the junctions. Consequently the "new facility" will not be used by many. Even those who use it will have to look sideways over their shoulder (or sometimes even totally behind) to negotiate the new junctions. As such it may well introduce as much hazard as it removes, while also delaying the cyclist.
There is also a danger that this proposal will increase conflict between cyclists who continue to use the road and motorists. Many drivers object to cyclists on the road when there is a low quality cycle facility available and have been known to "cut them up", thus increasing the risk to the cyclist. Consequently we feel that the proposals are inferior to the current low standard cycle lane.
Conversely, some faster cyclists may be encouraged onto the pavement, resulting in some clashes with pedestrians. It is not advisable to mix faster cyclists with pedestrians.
We believe that the Council should have a vision as to what this route should eventually encompass and ensure that all future changes are gradually working towards this objective. We suggest that such a solution, to gradually extend a consistent high quality infrastructure over the whole route, would be:
- Keep 2 x 3.1m vehicle lanes
- Keep 1 x 2.8m bus lane
- Add 2 x 2m hybrid cycle lanes (ed. on-road cycle lane with physical demarcation between the cycle lane and the carriageway)
- Leave 2 x 2m pavements
The cycle track and pavement would be implemented with clear level priority across every side road and driveway. This will need clear signs along the route (not every driveway) "Cyclists and Pedestrians have right of away across all junctions". Motor vehicles would have to cross a hump to enter or leave every side road. These would be tactile and would also be clearly painted to show they have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists. To leave a driveway a car will have 2 half kerb drops. One onto the cycle lane and one onto the road. There will be no smooth dropped kerbs as these encourage fast entrance and exit movements and give the impression of right of way. They also make the pavement less easy for walkers and the cycle route less comfortable for cyclists.
A key challenge will be to keep people from parking in the cycle track. One solution can be seen here and could be used between the cycle track and road, except at sideroads and driveways.
No drains or manhole covers would be permitted within the cycle tracks and they would be suitable for sweeping and gritting using standard council vehicles.
Bus stops will need to be worked out properly. In Copenhagen there is an island between the hybrid lane and the road for the bus stop so that the hybrid lane is unbroken.
Leicester Active Travel Conference
The Leicester Active Travel Conference held on 28th November was very successful. Presentation slides, event photographs and filmed keynote presentations can be seen at www.goleicestershire.com/activetravel .
The event included the launch of the new NICE Guidance on the Health Benefits of Walking and Cycling plus a celebration of Leicester’s efforts over 50 years to create a walkable and cyclable public realm. Transport Minister Norman Baker gave a presentation on the Government’s commitment to cycling and was joined by Anna Soubry the Public Health Minister.
Bicycle Culture in the 1940s
By Michael Forrest
As an habitué of the scrapyards and household waste dumps, I am appalled at the number of bicycles, needing little other than a little TLC and a mended puncture, casually dumped, while aware that probably ten times that number are quietly decaying in back gardens and sheds, unwanted, unvalued and forgotten.
In contrast with my first bicycle, bought from the girl over the road, which I spent hours over puzzling how to raise the typical dropped tube of this girl's machine so that it became a proper crossbar. That, and the conundrum of whether I could build a precious Sturmey-Archer hub into the diminutive back wheel, if I could ever afford to buy one.
Starting work at Rolls-Royce, Derby, at age 15, I travelled the 14 miles each way on the slow and smelly works bus, until independence beckoned and I resolved to get a bicycle.
The frame and forks were rescued from a neighbour's chestnut fencing, where they had kept the cows out for a decade or so, a rusty back wheel came from the same source (I wired up the holes left in the fence) and I chose to ignore the holes in the rim, which improved the braking but grated the brake blocks.
A front wheel and assorted bits were donated by a kindly man over the road, and I rode this machine 14 miles each way for years until the rusted front forks collapsed, when I splashed out on a second hand Dawes tourer.
But it was single speed, and I saved hard for the then 'Cyclo' three speed – a primitive derailleur gear of the time, while building in Rolls-Royce time, with their materials, a lightweight version of the Ozgear, then favoured by serious cyclists. It weighed several ounces less than the real thing, but shared its characteristic of fetching the chain off if clumsily handled or if it felt like coming off.
In search of more speed, this machine was eventually fitted with one of the then motorised wheels popular at the time, but even with pedal assistance and a minute ten tooth sprocket, it did not satisfy, so two such motors were fitted, each with oversized drive wheels, and eventually I had a mchine far too fast for its brakes or handling, and terrifying to ride fast. Fortunately, I joined the RAF at that time, and sold the monstrosity to an unwary lad, who surprisingly is still alive.
Very few had motorcars at that time, and the yards at Rolls-Royce were full of bike sheds. No-one ever bothered to lock up their cycles. Most were weary and battered, buckled wheels, pedals missing, some with tyres stuffed with hay in lieu of tubes. Times were hard, money and materials scarce. The many thousands of workers were let out at thirteen minutes to six in the evening, and a vast flying wedge of cyclists surged out onto the Osmaston Road, no-one daring to get in their way, eventually toiling up the railway bridge by the LMS works (London, Midland and Scottish railways, building steam locomotives).
One memorable day, the leader of this wedge broke a pedal, fell off, bringing down those behind him and resulting in the biggest heap of tangled bicycles and twanging spokes ever. I got home by jumping on the buckled front wheel until it would turn, riding back over the deserted roads of Morley Moor, Stanley Common and West Hallam Common, never a car to be seen. Happy days!
We tend to forget I was paid just £2 a week, while everything was scarce or rationed, but most were content with their lot, and one wonders if today's affluence will ever equal it.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is proposing new guidelines on prosecuting bad driving. This guidance has long been a bone of contention for cycle campaigners.
When it was last updated in 2007, cycle campaigners argued that it misstated the law regarding the distinction between ‘dangerous’ and ‘careless’ driving. But both the old CPS guidance and the latest draft revision cite the pulling out of a side-road into the path of another road user as an example of ‘careless’ driving. Surely this has to be dangerous driving and should be charged as such, not downgraded to careless driving.
Comment from Steve Bullman
Sounds like Clive Loader needs to get a deeper understanding of the cycle helmet facts and psychology.
One thing he could do with knowing is how many more life-threatening injuries would be prevented if all MOTORISTS were forced to wear them inside vehicles on EVERY journey made. I wonder if he thinks he'd be able get motorists to do that, or if that would be reasonable on safety grounds.
It's also true that if cyclists wore suits of armour when cycling, their injuries when knocked off would be reduced. So by the same logic, youngsters should be looking to their role models to be cycling around in such. A Nonsense.
On the topic of the letter from Richard Faulkner in which he stated: “My helmet did save my head getting a bash (big crack!) from where it hit the road and meant I only had to worry about the broken shoulder! I think in reality it has to stay a personal decision but, in terms of just looking after yourself, I think it's a good thing.”
Such letters are self selecting, how many cyclists get knocked off cycles and DON'T get any benefit from a helmet? Rather more than do, I believe. But those incidents don't initiate comments on the effectiveness of cycle helmets.