Reading Borough Council has defended the creation of a bike lane in the 'door zone' of a series of parking bays despite campaigners pointing out that the lane does not meet the council's own standards. The council says there have been no cyclist accidents in the area, but campaigners say the position of the lane is inherently dangerous.
The new lane, east of the town centre on Wokingham Road, was claimed by a spokesman for the Reading Cycle Campaign at a recent council meeting to have been made against the advice of local cyclists, and in contradiction to the council’s own Cycle Strategy 2014 and the Department for Transport’s guidelines.
But the lead councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport, Cllr Tony Page, has defended the lane, because "there have been no occurrences of injury accidents involving cyclists recorded in this area for the past three years."
Campaigners say this lane, like one in the north of the town which we covered in August 2014, lies in the area of road immediately next to the parked cars where cyclists are at most risk of car doors being opened into their path.
The council’s guidelines on positioning cycle lanes adjacent to parking bays, which feature in its Cycle Strategy 2014, state that advisory cycle lanes should have a width of 1.2m and that there must be a buffer zone of 500mm to 1000mm between the parking bay and cycle lanes.
The Wokingham Road lane does not meet those requirements, as parts of the lane are only 1m wide, and there is no buffer zone.
The guidelines do go on to stipulate, however, that where a buffer zone is not possible the council “will consider the removal of the centre line and will end any cycle lanes prior to the bays as well as adding cycle symbols to the-carriageway to alert drivers to the presence of cyclists.”
Wokingham Road is currently without centre markings, but the council say the painting of the cycle lanes is currently incomplete because of adverse weather conditions in January, and that the centre markings are due to be painted in the near future.
Cllr Page claimed that the lane had been introduced in accordance with the council's Cycling Strategy in a council meeting on January 27, despite the exclusion of a buffer zone, because there had been no injuries on that stretch of road in three years.
He said: “It is acknowledged that, where possible, a door buffer zone should be given consideration when continuing cycle markings past parking areas.
"In this particular instance, and for consistency, the council has continued the new cycle markings without such a zone as the majority of parking along this section of Wokingham Road is residential and there have been no occurrences of injury accidents involving cyclists recorded in this area for the past three years."
Reading Cycle Campaign (RCC) member, Keith Elliott told getreading.co.uk that several cyclists have already complained to the council about the cycle lanes, and said: “in places the lanes are less than 1m wide and have been put adjacent to parking bays. This is contrary to all the official guidance and is exactly what Reading Borough Council say they won’t do in their own Cycling Strategy.
“The council seem to be in denial. It’s beggars belief that they should waste money on a cycle scheme that is contrary to their own policies and encourages cyclists to put themselves in the car door danger zone.”
Mr Elliott went on to reference The Department for Transport’s (DfT) notes on cycle lanes, which also recommend a buffer zone between parking bays and cycle lanes. He said: “[The DfT] even publish a poster that tells cyclists to ride a car door’s width away from parked cars as part of their THINK safety campaign.
“We urge the council to remove these cycle lanes before someone gets hurt.“