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Cycling Infrastructure

Currently where I tend to cycle there is little or no cycling-specific infrastructure. There is a shared path for about a mile. Most of the roads I cycle on are a mixture of 30mph 40mph and the national speed limit. I would not by any means say that they are perfect but they work and I can go wherever I like. 

In an idle moment, I was thinking that if, sometime in the future, we see a huge increase in cycle routes and segregated cycle paths in towns is there a danger that cycling on the main road between towns becomes more hazardous than it currently is because motorists become unaccustomed to sharing the road with cyclists?

Then I wondered If councils would seek to move cyclists and other vulnerable road users away from using roads completely and force them to only use specific infrastructure where it was provided. 

Perhaps I should have fewer idle moments!

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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45 comments

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IanMSpencer | 1 month ago
5 likes

I don't think you need have any concern about cycling safety improving with #toxicadi Ashley Neal advocating for us on protected cycle lanes.

On his video on the cyclist and the fire service (not linking), he thinks it is for cyclists to avoid motorists on protected cycle lanes, advocates for the cyclist to make any interaction a non-event but not the driver, and liked a comment that said:

"If it was a car, I would understand the anger of the cyclist, but with a big vehicle, if I was a cyclist, I would just slow down and allow the vehicle to do its manoeuvre, and not feel so entitled."

Yes, an advanced driving instructor thinks that it is entitled for a cyclist to be given the priority indicated by a give way in their favour on a humped crossing on a separated, protected cycle lane.

Motorists (aside from London) generally interact with very few cyclists on any given journey. As often some drivers' response to an unsual situation is anger, frustration and panic I think you are right to be concerned that driver behaviour would not be improved by making the interactions rarer. As #toxicadi shows, the concept of conceding to cycles is so mindbending that many drivers, including highly qualified drivers, can't conceive that taking any responsibility for cyclist safety should rest on them.

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Steve K replied to IanMSpencer | 1 month ago
0 likes

IanMSpencer wrote:

"If it was a car, I would understand the anger of the cyclist, but with a big vehicle, if I was a cyclist, I would just slow down and allow the vehicle to do its manoeuvre, and not feel so entitled."

 

So, to summarise - a driver would be justified in being angry, but a cyclist is "entitled" if they are?

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Pub bike | 2 months ago
5 likes

Had a strange one on Sunday.   I was cycling on the shared use cycle path and a pedestrian told me I should have been cycling on the road, and that I was cycling too fast.  I explained that it was a shared use path as you can see from the multiple signs behind his head in the picture.  I have checked my speed and I was doing 17kmh which is less than the 12mph "speed limit" in the nearby Wandsworth park.

If you see this man please tell him:

- There is no legal speed limit for cyclists on cycle paths or anywhere else on public roads

- There is no requirement for cyclists to have speedometers

- There is no specific speed limit on this shared use path for cyclists

- if he has problems with shared use paths to complain to Wandsworth Council

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hawkinspeter replied to Pub bike | 2 months ago
5 likes

Pub bike wrote:

Had a strange one on Sunday.   I was cycling on the shared use cycle path and a pedestrian told me I should have been cycling on the road, and that I was cycling too fast.  I explained that it was a shared use path as you can see from the multiple signs behind his head in the picture.  I have checked my speed and I was doing 17kmh which is less than the 12mph "speed limit" in the nearby Wandsworth park.

If you see this man please tell him:

- There is no legal speed limit for cyclists on cycle paths or anywhere else on public roads

- There is no requirement for cyclists to have speedometers

- There is no specific speed limit on this shared use path for cyclists

- if he has problems with shared use paths to complain to Wandsworth Council

Why do people feel compelled to demonstrate their cluelessness to cyclists? It's the same with those motorists who feel compelled to shout made up rules about where and how cyclists should get about.

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Pub bike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
2 likes

Since pedestrians don't yet have to wear number plates perhaps I need to get some signs made up with his face on them and zip tie them to the lamp-posts along Armoury Way to educate him and others?

"WANTED for ill-informed comments made to cyclists etc"?

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chrisonabike replied to Pub bike | 2 months ago
3 likes

I shall certainly not!  If I see that man I will avoid him, as being as a person who's so deep in his misconceptions that he feels compelled to foist them upon strangers.

Also there are few things that people dislike more than if you have a different view from them AND are nearer the truth.

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Cycloid replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

The best way to really annoy motorists is to quote the Highway Code at them.

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Rendel Harris replied to Pub bike | 1 month ago
0 likes

Not sure what he'd be doing in Wandsworth but looks exceptionally like Sir James Dyson.

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john_smith replied to Pub bike | 1 month ago
0 likes

There mght not be a specific speed limit on shared use paths, but common sense and common courtesy suggest that if you are scaring the peds you are riding too fast. You should treat them the way you would expect motorists to treat you (in an ideal world, not bonkers "get off our roads" brexitland). It's not unreasonable for pedestrians to want to be able to use the footpath without having cyclists close-passing them at high speed.

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Rendel Harris replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
6 likes

john_smith wrote:

There mght not be a specific speed limit on shared use paths, but common sense and common courtesy suggest that if you are scaring the peds you are riding too fast. You should treat them the way you would expect motorists to treat you (in an ideal world, not bonkers "get off our roads" brexitland). It's not unreasonable for pedestrians to want to be able to use the footpath without having cyclists close-passing them at high speed.

He wasn't riding at high speed though, was he, 17kph is 10mph, below the 12mph guideline recommended for shared paths. Cyclists should use shared areas at a speed that would not scare a reasonable pedestrian, there will always be some who object to cyclists on "their" pavement (even with clear shared signage) for whom any speed is too fast. Looking at PB's picture it's a good wide path that's almost empty, no reason for the pedestrian to be scared of a 10mph cyclist.

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john_smith replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

Doesn't look that wide to me. If I were passing a pedestrian on it I would slow right down, not because the law said I had had to, but because I could.

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Rendel Harris replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

john_smith wrote:

Doesn't look that wide to me. If I were passing a pedestrian on it I would slow right down, not because the law said I had had to, but because I could.

Because I cycle round that way a lot I can pretty much pinpoint where it is, on the Wandsworth gyratory going eastwards. The shared pavement there is over three metres wide, it's actually wider than any of the adjoining car lanes:

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john_smith replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
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A car lane has to fit only one vehicle, and car lanes are clearly marked. As a motorist you know that if you stay in your lane no one is going to crash into you from behind.  As a pedestrian on a shared-use path you haven't got that kind of guarantee.

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Rendel Harris replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
6 likes

Oh for heaven's sake, he was riding at 10 mph, a perfectly reasonable speed for a 3 m wide shared footpath with only one pedestrian on it coming towards him who could clearly see him and had no reason to fear at all. Totally within the boundaries that you set of common sense and common courtesy and quite clearly a pedestrian who simply wanted to cause trouble. If you think 10 mph on a 3 m wide footpath with only one pedestrian is unacceptable that's fine, to any reasonable person it would be no problem whatsoever.

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perce replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
6 likes

I think the person lacking courtesy and common sense in this case is the pedestrian.

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john_smith replied to perce | 1 month ago
0 likes

True. I was thinking more of some of the wannabe racers I have seen around here, tearing past groups of pedestrians with children. That kind of behaviour really isn't necessary.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes
john_smith wrote:

There mght not be a specific speed limit on shared use paths, but common sense and common courtesy suggest that if you are scaring the peds you are riding too fast. You should treat them the way you would expect motorists to treat you (in an ideal world, not bonkers "get off our roads" brexitland). ...

Actually there are several reasons why "common-sense and common courtesy" are not going to cut it and "people being scared" does not equal "inconsiderate riding". You've mentioned one - people don't like sharing (roads or pavements) with those whose speed (or other attributes) differs significantly. Some people will get triggered no matter how you ride or even if you're right next to a shared use sign.

Cyclists are relatively rare most places so they are not expected. Cycling is very quiet* so people do get startled by cyclists "suddenly appearing". Thanks to "build instant cycling infra by putting up signs on footways" / "let them fight over scraps" policies it's often unclear to some where cyclists might legitimately be.

https://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/11/shared-use-paths-create-co...

* Until the government, or the next, accepts a new status quo / bows to commercial lobbying for bigger / faster electric motorbikes and delivery vehicles to use these spaces.

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

It's not just the speed difference that's the problem but also the fact that bicycles have hard, sharp bits and are often quite dirty. I think the whole concept of pedestrian/cyclist shared-use spaces is flawed. The two groups aren't compatible.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

Edit - sort of.

In fact it's a sliding scale of compatibility of modes and frequency-dependant. In many places (when everyone is accustomed to the situation) cycling and walking are more compatible than cycling and driving or walking and driving. So for ped / cyclist it can be OK to share where not many of either. (This mostly works for me even in Edinburgh - OTOH I know to avoid the paths right after a football / rugby match).

That allows the pragmatic Dutch solution in the countryside of building cycle paths *without* a footway:

https://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/is-that-shared-use-path-do...

...because it's always legal to walk or wheel on the cycle path and it's no drama where there are very few interactions.

Of course if you've "done a UK" and squeezed in 30 inches of tarmac alongside a busy de-restricted road * rather than having 3.5m of well maintained path it's going to fail.

However in our urban spaces there is competition for quiet space to walk with kids / dogs *because we allocated so much space to motor traffic / parking* - and the traffic levels mean or towns and cities are noisy (listen to different soundscapes in Dutch urban videos).

I'm not sure about grubbiness or pointiness troubling people. FWIW my recumbent attracts lots of non-negative interest and people don't comment that I've effectively got a low-speed circular saw out front! (Still trying to source a guard for that...)

* Make sure to have it switch sides frequently!
Don't bother with a maintenance budget for either clearing vegetation / road debris or fixing damage from tractors / roots. Who's going to want to walk / cycle a foot away from oncoming trucks at 50mph+ anyway?

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Andrewbanshee replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
3 likes

I kinda disagree. Just look at all the European cities, towns etc that have plenty of shared use without any issues. The issue is the culture. Uk people are just selfish gits because it's the only way we feel we can actually have something.
I have lived in a country where shared use was widespread and admit it took a (very) short time to get used to it. My wife would cycle most places. We had no need for a car. She won't cycle anywhere now we are back in the UK. She has experienced aggressive pedestrians.

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Sriracha | 6 months ago
3 likes

Edinburgh bans pavement parking!

Somewhat tangential to the topic; I'm often struck that where pavements are amply wide enough that they could be reconfigured to accommodate the installation of a cycle path, before that ever happens the space becomes taken over by parked cars. In time this becomes the norm, and the residents come to see it as part of their amenity, creating an inertia against any change. It creates the illusion that there is no room for a cycle path. It cements the opposition to a cycle path.

In my street it is no longer possible even to walk along the pavement on one side - residents park across the full width of the pavement.

So the news that Edinburgh has decided to outlaw pavement parking is a glimmer of hope. Although, of course, tempered by the fact that nothing will probably change:

Quote:

...no additional parking staff are being recruited to enforce the ban...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-67381938

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 6 months ago
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Also - exemption for deliveries - I expect that to be broadly interpreted.

However finally as you say a commitment to close a loophole (as it's illegal to drive there).

I'll see if I notice a difference.

Totally agree that a big issue is that "we can't see the space for the cars". It's "but our streets are too narrow". And what is banned but not effectively enforced (and now not at all, say the police) becomes normal. Then if you try to backtrack everyone says "we're being persecuted! How can I access my house / the shops / the clinic / where can I put my car now?"

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 6 months ago
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On compromise - instead of "we'll allow some specific (painted!) space for cycling - as long as drivers aren't actually affected" we can do a bit better but still find middle ground. Here's an example - a street in NL where it was judged "our street is too narrow for cycle paths". So instead - they made a cycle street.

The catch is - this was 27 years ago - and even in NL there were probably too many people driving. The layout was not right but perhaps it just wasn't possible with car usage at the time. Is this the case in some UK situations?

https://youtu.be/lYm3-1P8DMs?t=24

Of course - this is now fixed. Once again it's a cycle street, and it works because there are far more people cycling than driving. There are still compromises - there are (marked) spaces to park cars *on the pavement* and also loading bays (specific times). But it's good *enough* - and miles better than a couple of decades ago.

https://youtu.be/lYm3-1P8DMs?t=97

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Sriracha replied to chrisonabike | 6 months ago
3 likes

I think the ingredient missing from our situation is only the determination to make it work! In NL they have plugged away doggedly over 27 years, on the basis that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Whereas over here we give it a few months, then rip it all out and return to the conviction that it can (or even, must) never work.

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 6 months ago
0 likes
Sriracha wrote:

I think the ingredient missing from our situation is only the determination to make it work! In NL they have plugged away doggedly over 27 years, on the basis that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Whereas over here we give it a few months, then rip it all out and return to the conviction that it can (or even, must) never work.

Yes.

There's a PhD or several in examining why this is. People say "culture" but in truth the range of different countries which have moved further - and recently - than the UK - suggests that this is not simply that and indeed transport culture is not immutable. Perhaps once a few made the political choices - way back when - this has somehow become a political "given" / absolute?

However as some on here will no doubt recall - *some* have been plugging away for longer than that. Indeed - a couple of years back we had the quarter-century anniversary of a major government plan for more cycling - and found we were right back at the start.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/national-cycling-strategys-25th-anniversa...

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HoarseMann | 7 months ago
4 likes

The plans I have seen include cycle paths between towns too.

But you need not worry, more cycle infrastructure will mean more cyclists, which means a greater proportion of drivers will cycle or know someone who does and this will increase empathy towards cyclists.

Any competent driver can operate a car safely around cyclists, it's a driver's attitude towards cyclists that results in dangerous/careless driving.

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Cugel replied to HoarseMann | 7 months ago
2 likes

HoarseMann wrote:

But you need not worry, more cycle infrastructure will mean more cyclists ......

This may be so in densely populated places that are flattish and have oodles of cash spent on the bicycle ways. London is the prime example. Elsewhere, I've noticed that even wide and well-made cycle paths well separated from traffic remain empty of bikes except for mine, as far as the eye can see.

There's a really nice section of such path on the busy A-road going along the Welsh west coast around Blaenannerch and going part way down to Aberporth. I used to cycle along that a lot - about 2 miles worth, perhaps twice a week .... but never ever saw anyone else on a bike. The population levels are low there; and the terrain is very hilly, mind.

To be frank, I've no idea why they built it. It is made to a very good standard and even gets swept by a wee machine with a rotary brush (I saw that regularly) but still didn't get used except, apparently, by me. It got so I would for wheel tracks on it - but never saw any.   1

Probaly the council got a budget allocated for cycling facilities and felt obliged to spend it. There was room where they put it. Many roads in West Wales are impossible to improve with pavements or cycle paths as they're already very narrow and usually bounded by ancient turfed walls with trees or hedges on top, behind which is Welsh farmland not easily give up by the farmers.

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Backladder replied to HoarseMann | 7 months ago
3 likes

HoarseMann wrote:

But you need not worry, more cycle infrastructure will mean more cyclists, which means a greater proportion of drivers will cycle or know someone who does and this will increase empathy towards cyclists.

I'm not convinced that the graph of cyclist numbers vs driver empathy is a straight line, I think there will be a horrible dip in it!

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andystow | 7 months ago
2 likes

Some of it's clearly not needed, but when the direct route is a nightmare for cycling and there's no reasonably direct (say, 15% more distance or less) it can be a game changer for cycling.

A friend of mine brought me a pamphlet last night, the neighborhood got a grant to improve this road that she lives on, and she asked if I was worried that the plan prioritised pedestrians over cyclists. I said I'd always put pedestrians first if there's a conflict.

The plan is to add nice pavements, but there's also talk of bike lanes. This road is a relatively quiet residential street, 40 feet (12 m) wide including the pavement, with stop signs every few blocks, an is already one of the most used in the area by me and many other cyclists according to the Strava heatmap. There's a parallel four-lane road with fewer stops a quarter mile to the east for the drivists.

I'd rather have no bike infrastructure than the door zone bike lanes or sharrows they're likely to put in.

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chrisonabike replied to andystow | 7 months ago
1 like

I mean all credit to people in the US - that's pretty much the world benchmark for King Car (bar maybe some bits of the middle east oil states) ... in a lot of places the notion of adding *pedestrian* infra in towns and residential areas is a bit of a new thing...

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