A new cycle lane in the centre of Hereford has been dismissed as an “awful job” by a councillor who criticised the quality of the surface and the potential for pedestrians to trip over a “hazardous” lip.
The contraflow cycle lane on St Owen Street, currently under construction, forms part of Herefordshire Council’s plan to “create a more attractive environment for residents, visitors, shoppers, workers and local businesses” in the city centre.
Located on the Town Hall side of St Owen Street, and pointing cyclists towards the city centre in the opposite direction to motor traffic, the cycle lane will be separated from the one-way carriageway by a row of car parking bays.
According to the council, the cycle contraflow scheme will establish “a safer cycle route from the east of the city, promoting sustainable and active travel, while at the same time improving safety for pedestrians and motorists.”
However, even before it has been officially completed, the scheme has come under fire from local councillors, who have criticised the new bike lane for its design and quality.
In late November, independent councillor and former Hereford city mayor Jim Kenyon filmed a video (above) of the “freshly laid” cycle lane, during which he raised concerns that sections of the path were flooded.
“We’ve had a light shower and, as you can see, we’re splashing along here. It’s halfway across the cycle track,” he said in the video. “There’s water across the road. It’s also sitting on [the parking bay] side of the white line.”
The councillor also argued that a “lip” on the edge of the lane will cause people to “fall over”.
Speaking at a meeting of Herefordshire Council last week, Kenyon said: “I made a video of the ‘pooling’ along the freshly laid cycle lane.
“It’s an awful job. Who appointed the contractors? The council should have its own inspectors, who could have picked this up sooner.”
According to the Hereford Times, the council’s transport portfolio holder John Harrington responded that the work, “including the issue of pooling, will be quality checked as a normal process.
“We have a response that the pooling was because of the heavy rain that day. I’ve said that’s not good enough, and to go and check it. We will pass on their response,” he said.
Kenyon also said that he had noticed cyclists were travelling in both directions to and from the city centre on St Owen Street (presumably using both the main one-way carriageway and the contraflow cycle lane), a claim that was repeated by Conservative councillor Carole Gandy.
Gandy, who also described the quality of the cycle lane as poor, said: “What I find bizarre is that cyclists are able to go in either direction.
“But if you park there, I can see drivers pulling out without looking for cyclists coming in the other direction.
“Why did we decide cycles could go in both directions, with a cycle lane only in the direction of the city centre?”
Harrington, a member of the Herefordshire Independents who, along with the Greens and the ‘It’s Our County’ party, control the council, replied: “You might ask your cabinet, because it was their scheme. It’s a very good idea in my opinion, because it’s a desire line, people were going up it anyway.
“The issue is, how do we protect people [from cyclists] going the other way [from traffic]? The previous administration’s scheme did that, but it wasn’t compliant with new legislation saying you had to segregate cyclists where you could.”
Hereford’s new cycle lane isn’t the only piece of active travel infrastructure to come in for criticism recently due to the perceived poor quality of its design and finish.
Last week, we reported that an Edinburgh pensioner warned that the city's now-infamous Leith Walk cycle lane is a “disaster waiting to happen” after he suffered a suspected broken rib and other minor injuries after hitting a shallow kerb.
John Kerr flew over the handlebars when his front tyre clipped a shallow kerb on the side of the bike lane – the butt of many jokes when pictures of its “moronic” bizarre zig-zag design emerged online earlier this year.
The city’s council says the lane is currently closed, with barriers and signage in place notifying the public, and will not be complete until early 2023, but the 69-year-old says he does not believe it will be any safer when officially open and that the “terrible design” could cause someone to be seriously injured.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.