Get Down To Cycle Town

Délinquance routière

Image by David_Reverchon via Flickr

Forgive me if the announcement of Britain’s first 11 cycling towns leaves me a little nonplussed as I know that most of those towns picked will have got on the list as they will have presented themselves as  most able to meet certain criteria. I am disappointed that mostly it will mean funding for more daft cycle lanes and areas to park your bike. It’s already been shown that cycle lanes put the cyclist at greater risk than just cycling on non defined roadways.

Whilst I applaud any initiative to promote the cycle, many of our major towns and cities have simply not been built to accommodate them and the rivalry between car owner and cyclists does not make for a happy marriage.

Whilst the ‘old new towns’ like Stevenage and Milton Keynes were built with pedestrian and cycle ways entirely separate from the car routes , many towns and cities are still dominated by the choking flow of traffic.

In Australia it always surprised me that, considering the sheer width of some of their roads when compared to our narrow byways, the pavement (sidewalk) would often only be on one side of the road and not on both.

It never struck me before as to how wasteful having a walkway on each side of the road could be it always always made me wonder why we couldn’t just define one side of each road’s pavement exclusively for cycle use or give ourselves more road width with a similar single pavement system.

Better still would be to define some smaller roads as one way for traffic with the other side of the road for exclusive cycle use which would be an easier way to give cyclists defined routes across many of our towns and cities without these ridiculous and often piecemeal attempts to create cycle paths as and when the opportunity presents itself (in some cases cycle paths only run for a few feet before petering out).

It still amazes me that below the age of 16 it’s legal to ride your cycle on the pavement but not after that age when the most dangerous pedestrian unfriendly cycling I’ve encountered is largely by those below aged 16 (it’s not an anti youth point, it’s just the way I’ve personally found it to be).

By the way. Cambridge as a cycle town.Duh!

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4 thoughts on “Get Down To Cycle Town

  1. I must admit that I tend to avoid cycle lanes around here because they are so slow – each time they cross a side road you have to stop and give way to traffic (unlike in the Netherlands where it is the other way round and they are therefore speedy), and yes, they peter out or are full of gaggles of abusive school children blocking them. Travelling on the road is more straightforward and quicker but not pleasant or safe.

    I went to school in Stevenage and was expected to cycle on the dedicated cycle ways. Did I? No. Because they went under the roads and built in hills that just didn’t exist on the roads – so I went on the roads where there were no hills and no broken glass lurking (always there at the bottom of the underpasses). I used to moan about them because they were designed around the roads really. If I had only known how lucky we were!

    You can get really good cycling maps now online if you want to cycle through London (free from Transport for London) which take you on back streets which are relatively quiet and safe and yet not long or hilly.

    Your idea re designated pavements seems sensible enough although when you are walking with small children and a pram it is a nuisance to have to keep crossing roads. But it is only a matter of us getting used to it.

  2. Ha you’re right about the dedicated walkways being somewhat the 2nd class option even more so in MK where they often seemed to be designed to be as mugger friendly as possible (where the ghost of Cliff Richard roller skating still lurks in the walkways).I never thought about the excess of pavements until I went to Oz (that & the futility of sink plugs on chains).

  3. I am somewhat prejudiced against cyclists. Yes, I know it’s not fair to blame all cyclists because of the selfish ones but it is the selfish ones that cause all the trouble and get noticed.

    When I cycled, I always obeyed all the rules of the road. Some cyclists still do and I applaud them but they are a minority and their reputation is sullied by the others.

    Because cycling is now flavour of the month, cyclists are encouraged but not controlled. Mixing cyclists and pedestrians is quite wrong, in my view: there should be no cycling on tow paths, for example. Cyclists do not share, they yell at you and assume you ought to stand aside for them. I refuse to do so and have had the pleasure of seeing a few oiks fall off their bikes as a result.

    It is also wrong to put cycle tracks on pavements and promenades because, predictably, neither group respects the other’s lanes. Cyclists should be on the road. If they can’t hack it on the road, they should not cycle.

    My greatest anger, of course, is reserved for cyclists who expect to be respected by other road users but do not respect them in return: cyclists who ignore traffic lights and ride over pedestrian crossings on the green man; cyclists who ride the wrong way or on the wrong side of the road; cyclists who turn into pedestrians whenever it suits them and cross the road on pedestrian crossings; and of course, cyclists who cycle on the pavement. The latter habit annoys me especially because it is dangerous, selfish and illegal but no one does anything about it.

    There is a growing view, which I share, that cyclists should have to have driving licences and insurance and that their cycles should carry licence plates as other vehicles do on public roads. They should not be given extra privileges that other drivers do not have, as has recently been proposed (e.g. being allowed to turn left on a red light) – they take enough liberties already without these being sanctioned by law.

    If cyclists were regulated in this way, perhaps the police would feel they then had to act against bad cycling whereas now they usually turn a blind eye to it. I deeply resent being shouted at by cyclists to get out of the way on the pavement!

    Having cycled, I know that other road users sometimes give cyclists a hard time: twice I narrowly escaped disastrous collisions myself. The answer is to beef up driver awareness of cyclists and cyclists’ rights (as was done for motor cycles) not to allow cyclists still more latitude which will merely alienate drivers and pedestrians still further.

    It would be nice to have the separate lanes for motor vehicles, trams, pedestrians and cyclists that we see in some towns in the Netherlands but we would have to bomb our cities flat first in order to be able to do it. Hardly practicable. No, cyclists must learn to use the roads properly and to respect other users as they wish to be respected themselves.

  4. Hello ST-thought that might be your view-LOL.In an ideal world etc.I’d prefer that cyclists didn’t get put on the same roads as cars as it’s just too unequal a ‘contest’.There is an argument that cyclists bend rules (OK break them) to stay safe (hard to respect the law when we have 2 metre cycleways that just peter out into a dangerous traffic junction in a kind of ‘you’re on yer own mate’) which I can see.I don’t excuse it but frankly there are selfish drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, buses and cyclists and they just aren’t all able to share the same byways equally.People get forced into selfish behaviours by bad structures.I doubt that Britain PLC will ever get a joined up thinking policy re an integrated transport policy.Bombing the cities or at least bulldozing them sounds quite appealing at times.
    Enjoyed your viewpoint.

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