Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

How much?! It's now revealed council spent £10,000 on "embarrassing" obstacle-packed cycle lane

Images of the infrastructure blocked by dangerous obstacles... including trees, lampposts and a speed camera attracted ridicule online

A cycle lane branded an "embarassment" and a "total waste" of time, effort and money by a cycling campaign group cost the council £9,195, it has today been revealed.

So eye-catchingly problematic is the infrastructure that it even attracted national newspaper coverage, the Independent and Daily Mail today publishing the figures Worcestershire County Council spent on it.

Back in June we shared widely-mocked pictures of the lane, which sees riders have to pass obstacles including lampposts, trees, road signs, bins and even a speed camera.

However, now it has been reported Worcestershire County Council spent nearly £10,000 on the lane, including £5,000 on painting white lines and installing bollards, while £3,000 was spent on closing the road during construction.

Bike Worcester will not be surprised to hear the latest update. Back in the summer a spokesperson rubbished the council's claim it was a challenge to improve infrastructure within the "demands on space" and said the council should "hang its head in shame".

"It's an embarrassment, I don't know whether to laugh or cry," Dan Brothwell said. "The coup de grâce is the effort spent painting a solid white line around the speed camera.

"If the aim is to put Worcester on the map for comic reasons, the council is going about it the right way. 

"Rather than providing infrastructure that offers an improvement to people walking and cycling we are presented with this mess. This does nothing to improve connectivity or continuity of the already shared-use path on New Road.

"The time, effort and money spent on this is a total waste, and could have had far more positive effect spent elsewhere in the city."

One local rider told the Independent: "I cannot actually believe that the council have squandered ten grand on something which is worse than the road.

"I came within a whisker of falling into the road when I had to swerve around a bin only to see a tree in front of me. Another time I had to swerve around the speed camera but almost hit another cyclist coming the other way."

At the time, Councillor Mike Rouse, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport, defended the project, saying the council had "ensured there is enough room to manoeuvre around existing street furniture" during the construction phase.

He today told the Mail: "Cycling infrastructure of any kind, which needs to follow strict government guidelines, is expensive and this is one of the reasons we can't install as much as we would like as a council.

"With the New Road, we had a number of complaints about the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists on the combined New Road footway and cycleway.

"Since the scheme was installed, monitoring has revealed that the scheme has been successful and that there is now very little conflict as most pedestrians and cyclists are using the segregated lanes which is really good news for both."

Main image: @MTBfreedom/Twitter

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Add new comment

26 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 1 year ago
5 likes

Not all that surprising- Worcestershire was where the Inspector cancelled a 'close-pass operation' because there was too much risk for the police officers to be out cycling!

Avatar
chaos | 1 year ago
5 likes

As an aside, my issue with this example of sub optimal design is that it only appears to be understood by cyclists. I mention this because in the past two weeks I have been harassed for not using the cycle lane by ignorant aggressive car drivers. Without going into too much detail, the cycle lanes were unsafe: potholes, flooded, leaves, etc. And, when I say harassed, both incidents involved car drivers veering their machines at me to encourage me to get off 'their' road! All wrong on so many levels.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to chaos | 1 year ago
4 likes
chaos wrote:

As an aside, my issue with this example of sub optimal design is that it only appears to be understood by cyclists. I mention this because in the past two weeks I have been harassed for not using the cycle lane by ignorant aggressive car drivers. Without going into too much detail, the cycle lanes were unsafe: potholes, flooded, leaves, etc. And, when I say harassed, both incidents involved car drivers veering their machines at me to encourage me to get off 'their' road! All wrong on so many levels.

It's basically projection.

Those particular drivers are so angry and stupid that they can't even recognise that they're stupid, so they project it onto other drivers and cyclists. Rather than thinking "cyclists are choosing to use the road instead, I wonder why", they go straight to "they don't know what they're doing, I'd better shout at them to learn 'em good".

It reminds me of Chesterton's Fence:

G K Chesterton wrote:

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to chaos | 1 year ago
1 like

Get a camera and report them to the police. It may or may not help but it can't do any harm.

Avatar
davidr@alto-mar... | 1 year ago
6 likes

Until local and central government take cycling as a commuting/travelling option for the many (rather than just keenies) seriously, this is what we will get. Need a cycling specialist on all councils to prevent these useless lanes. But it needs to be taken seriously...and that means cash unfortunately, especially in these extremely cash-strapped times. Would be good to get a Dutch councillor to comment on this particular instance, and what would have been done in Holland, which has to be the yardstick country for cycling infrastructure...which is used widely of course. Chicken and egg?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to davidr@alto-marketing.com | 1 year ago
4 likes
davidr [at] alto-marketing.com wrote:

Until local and central government take cycling as a commuting/travelling option for the many (rather than just keenies) seriously, this is what we will get. Need a cycling specialist on all councils to prevent these useless lanes. But it needs to be taken seriously...and that means cash unfortunately, especially in these extremely cash-strapped times. Would be good to get a Dutch councillor to comment on this particular instance, and what would have been done in Holland, which has to be the yardstick country for cycling infrastructure...which is used widely of course. Chicken and egg?

When you say "cycling specialist", I reckon they can just ask anyone that cycles regularly or possibly anyone with at least one working eye and a functional brain.

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
2 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

When you say "cycling specialist", I reckon they can just ask anyone that cycles regularly or possibly anyone with at least one working eye and a functional brain.

Just one problem: "iM a KeEn CyCliSt MySeLf ..."

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to davidr@alto-marketing.com | 1 year ago
2 likes

We need more people having these thoughts.  Unfortunately while there are some excellent people in councils, involved in design etc. those in power are often less "leading" - more looking over their shoulder at the masses and trying not to get too many noisy complaints.  It also may not shock you that a few of our esteemed councillors are ... a little over-keen on the business interests of their friends and family, shall we say.  So whether out of caution or corruption "radical" changes (which don't look like they'll quickly generate a large sum of cash) are avoided and outside advice is often treated with suspicion.  Not invented here.  But we have our own experts...

In Edinburgh, the local cycling group - which for decades has striven to build good relationships with the council - offered advice on the tram project.  Council said "whatever".  So they then raised funds and got a Dutch consultant to produce a report on how the trams and cycling would interact.  Guess what effect this had on the council?  I think they didn't see this as (constructive) criticism but an outright bad-faith attack.  Didn't apparently change anything anyway.  Several years, lots of injuries, money paid out in compensation claims and a death later ... we're still waiting for a date for some of the danger spots to get some "amelioration"...

Avatar
cyclisto | 1 year ago
0 likes

All Karens will complain about the obstacles, but then they can't wait to get home and play their favorite Subway Surfers game.

Seriously now, 10K for something that tries to be a cycle lane is very little money, so I know it may seem like a very bad infrastructure, but for its money it is well spent money. So I would prefer much more similar lame cycle paths reaching almost everywhere than a single part of "cycle highway" with the same money spent. Part of my commute to work is a much worse cycle path than the one in the video but still better than riding along cars for a slow guy like me. The reason though that I don't mind this lame cycle path is because very few ride on that cycle path, had they been more fellow riders, it would not be a pleasurable experience.

The big question is if lame cycle paths were built properly, whether more people would be tempted to use these routes.

 

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to cyclisto | 1 year ago
10 likes
cyclisto wrote:

The big question is if lame cycle paths were built properly, whether more people would be tempted to use these routes.

That question has been answered a thousand times, and it's always yes.

Avatar
cyclisto replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
0 likes

It is not an easy answer in reality. Right before this lame cycle path part, there is a part of my commute, that due to being in different municipality, has better quality with double width, much better pavement quality and no needless chicanes. Nevertheless the cyclists volumes still remain very low, but it has attracted a significant pedestrian traffic since the pedestrian paths are analogically lame in both areas.

I don't mind really that much pedestrians (any tried ideas for bell in drop bars are very welcome) since their volumes overwhelm cyclists. Similarly though in pedestrian areas, I will not dismount but move very carefully instead.

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to cyclisto | 1 year ago
2 likes

I think in the UK there's some kind of established complex of ideas or ideology about pedestrians and cycling.  It seems to include: a) cyclists are a menace to pedestrians b) the safest place for cyclists is on the pavement - or at least not on the road c) the best way to handle pedestrians and cyclists is *not* to provide clearly demarcated areas for each but let them sort it out between themselves.

It's odd because it's self contradictory, and although the origin of each part can be understood they're individually and collectively wrong in the final analysis.

I think the only relevant question is "what's a suitable next step between where we are and the image below".  The answer is certainly not what's been delivered here.

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to cyclisto | 1 year ago
2 likes

Why not just give all the councillors involved a grand?  Or buy the some of the contractors' bosses a new TV each?  That's also very little money by the scale of works on the roads.  It also probably does about as much good.  You could have cycled there before the paint with as much ease and probably the same number of people shouting at you.

So yes, it's too cheap.  Cycling provision is "cheap" - but "at - say - 10% of what it costs to put roads in" level.  Does that lead to more cycling?  If there is an actual network of routes above a minimum standard which go where people want to go (and places to park at either end)?

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/what-defines-dutch-cycling/

Switzerland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWnreLG_cvc

Finland, in winter: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/feb/12/ice-cycles-northerly-worl...

Avatar
HLaB | 1 year ago
3 likes

Shockingly you get what you pay for, that farcility is terrible. I'm just weighing that up against a certain £1.5bn scheme to build new roads 😐

Avatar
Tonbar | 1 year ago
4 likes

It would be interesting to have a breakdown of the cost. £5000.00 on painting white lines! £3000.00 on closing the road!. Either the council is being ripped off or they are paying too much to do the work. They haven't said what £2000.00 was spent on.
This is public money and the ratepayers are entitled to know where there money is spent. How they have coated it etc.

Avatar
Doctor Darabuka replied to Tonbar | 1 year ago
1 like
Tonbar wrote:

This is public money and the ratepayers are entitled to know where there money is spent.

https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/downloads/download/1582/payments_to_co...

Avatar
ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
2 likes

I call horseshit on that figure. Some accounting fudgery has definitely gone on there. The time of the council staff who dealt with it would have cost more than that. Perhaps they have only included material costs.

Avatar
Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
3 likes

Ludicrous though it is, I suspect that dodging round all the obstacles makes cycling to school far more interesting for the average 6 year old and still safer than mixing with the average selection of British drivers.

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 year ago
13 likes

I'd so love to have the wherewithal to uproot the camera and replant it in the motor vehicle lane in the dead of night.

Obviously I'm not oblivious to the risks, so I'd be sure to paint the protective magic circle to prevent motorists driving into it.

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
4 likes
Sriracha wrote:

I'd so love to have the wherewithal to uproot the camera and replant it in the motor vehicle lane in the dead of night. Obviously I'm not oblivious to the risks, ...

...so don't replant it at more than 10% above the speed limit and you'll be safe!

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 year ago
6 likes

Councillor Mike Rouse, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport "Since the scheme was installed, monitoring has revealed that the scheme has been successful and that there is now very little conflict as most pedestrians and cyclists are using the segregated lanes which is really good news for both."

I'm pretty sure that the council carried out the monitoring, not the local bike club, and the results are, to say the least, suspect.  Still, he is right about decent cycle provision being expensive, and this is really, really cheap; like proper segregated lanes for instance, they're expensive.

If the good councillor thinks that this is money well spent, he should resign, because he is utterly clueless about his brief.

Avatar
chrisonatrike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
6 likes

He's telling the truth.  The monitoring was carried out - by one of the councillors at his favourite pub / restaurant with a couple of his pals.  They clearly reported that after a few weeks they'd never been offended by finding a cyclist "on the pavement".  Likely because despite 5 grand on magic paint this failed to attract any cyclists to the obstacle course.

So job done.

This isn't a "scheme" - it's a scam.  If I was the government (or even just a local paying council tax) I'd be taking a very close look at the links between councillors bringing this in and whoever was selling the paint / doing the labour!

Avatar
jh2727 replied to chrisonatrike | 1 year ago
3 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

He's telling the truth.  The monitoring was carried out - by one of the councillors at his favourite pub / restaurant with a couple of his pals.

I guess that's where the missing £2k was spent.

Avatar
Awavey replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
2 likes

it would be the first shared cycling path in history if most pedestrians werent wandering either side of the magic paint.

Avatar
brooksby replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
6 likes

As I understand it, though, there's no obligation on pedestrians to stay on their side of the white line (only for cyclists to stay on their side).

Avatar
Awavey replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
4 likes

I know, doesnt mean I dont still find it annoying though, ding ding, ooh a cyclist I never expected to see a cyclist on a cycle path with this big painted bicycle on it

Latest Comments