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Official: New cycle lanes are getting shorter

… and there's fewer of them too...

This week in an answer to a parliamentary question the Department for Transport finally admitted that local authorities are reducing their investment in cycle lanes – from 405 km in 2001-2 to a mere 140 km in 2006-7, a 65% fall over the last 5 years. According to calculations by the national cyclists' organisation CTC, last year local authorities painted a pitiful 2.8 millimetres of cycle lanes for each person! That’s the length of this dash -.

Cyclists often bitterly complain of poor cycle facilities that stop and start randomly (see today's story on Brighton). If the figures on the average length of lanes built in the last few years are correct this is not likely to improve any time soon. These figures show that not only are the number of lanes being installed falling but the average length of cycle lanes has also declined from 869m to 553m. “This isn’t a surprise in a country where we spend 70 times more on roads than on cycling. What is even worse is even the few cycle lanes that are installed are too short and narrow, and often end where they are most needed.”said CTC’s Policy Co-ordinator Chris Peck.

The CTC is no calling on local authorities to dedicate at least 10% of their transport budget to walking and cycling. Where they do install a cycle lane, they need to ensure that it is designed correctly and that they consult local cyclists. This last point is crucial traffic planners who don't cycle often have a poor grasp of the real needs of cyclists.   The Department for Transport's design guidance on cycle facilities is still waiting for to be published over 4 years after it was first drafted in 2004. Ironically this decline in providing cycle lanes is happening at a time when demand has never been higher for cycle paths. Figures released this week by the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Sestran) which installed newer more accurate static counters on paths show that usage of cycle paths in Edinburgh doubled in the first three months of this year, lobby groups are now calling for similar figures to be provided for on-road cycle traffic.'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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DaveP | 15 years ago

You'd think that if they were putting less in they'd concentrate more on where and how.

Well worth a giggle:

thebikeboy replied to DaveP | 15 years ago

make me laugh out loud

dave atkinson replied to DaveP | 15 years ago

You gotta love those crazy planners! who says they're getting shorter? This one's from 2004...

Barney Fletcher | 15 years ago

They're making shorter lanes (well getting the paint pot out), but they are a bit better thought out. There were plenty of councils a few years back who would paint a 'Cycle lane' pretty much anywhere just so they could make their target…

Obviously that's a maybe, it could just be that the price of paint has gone up.

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