A new cycle lane in Southampton has prompted much ridicule online, with local residents and some cyclists dismayed at pictures which emerged of the infrastructure, complete with pedestrian crossing post and a bench in it. However, a local cycling campaign group has said it is "basically a non-issue".
Works on the cycling infrastructure on Radstock Road and Manor Road South were completed at the end of last month, local paper The Daily Echo the first to publish residents' concerns and photos of the route. Since then more images have emerged on social media, mainly of the bench seemingly installed on the cycle route, and a zebra crossing post also in the middle of the infrastructure, just metres from where a bike is painted on the newly laid surface.
Conservative councillor Jeremy Moulton described "installing a bench in the middle of a cycle lane in Woolston" as "bonkers" and accused the Labour-run council of "mad transport schemes".
Another post commented on and shared by hundreds of residents sparked discussion, one reply saying "I like the way they've put the light right in the middle of the lane", another suggesting "cyclists better have their wits about them".
The confusion continued in a group called 'I would cycle in Southampton if...' that is dedicated to "gathering as many members as possible to prove to Southampton City Council that the people of Southampton do want to cycle on a regular basis, and would cycle far more often if a well thought out cohesive cycling infrastructure was built".
"I looked at it yesterday... I just don't understand," one member said, sharing the picture below.
[William Hoof Roberts/Facebook]
"What I find odd," another member replied. "Is the line down the middle. If it's actually a shared surface. Surely the line implies to people that bikes stay right, people go left, but that isn't actually the rule and the design, with a pole in the right-hand 'lane forces cyclists to the left. Feels like it's going to create unnecessary conflict."
However, addressing the situation, the Southampton Cycling Campaign told road.cc it is "basically a non-issue" and that the infrastructure is "just a crossing to connect old paths to a route to the station and for kids to get to school".
"Yes, the markings for shared-use could be clearer with bike markings in the middle. The shared-use is just a short section so the crossing can be used from both sides and in all directions. The confusion is partly the previous kerb-line, but Southampton City Council has agreed to put more of the 'share with care' signs or similar on the ground.
"Southampton is doing well with cycle infrastructure, considering the usual restrictions. We've got officers who actually cycle and they have achieved a lot," a spokesperson for the group told us, referring to the city council's clarification that the entire short section with the zebra crossing is shared-use, and is not segregated into cyclists one side, pedestrians on the other.
A spokesperson for the council also said that while the bench and crossing indicator will not be removed from the route, the "markings will be amended to make this even clearer".
"The new parallel pedestrian and cycle crossing provides a safer route to the nearby St Patrick's Catholic Primary and Ludlow Infant and Junior Schools and is raised to help slow speeds," the council said in a statement.
"The pavement south-east of the junction has been widened with new seating and greening provided. This area is now a shared-use path, meaning people can use the whole area on foot or by bike.
"The cycle symbol on the pavement was installed alongside the shared-use signage to make it clear cyclists are permitted on this section of former footway, now a shared area which is dissected by the old kerb line. The markings will be amended to make this even clearer."
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.