A Somerset cycle lane which caused 59 injuries in its first year of use, and was branded a "failed experiment" by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg earlier this year, is to stay in place as it is after a cross-party group of councillors withdrew its plan to commit the council to investigate works on it.
The cycling infrastructure on Keynsham's high street was opened in March 2022, but was called an "optical illusion" by locals due to the differing kerb heights that caused pedestrians to fall. A Freedom of Information request found that 59 people had been injured by the lane in its first year, that number now reported as 76 by the Bristol Post, as of August.
In response, the cycle lane was painted red to distinguish between the levels with different heights, the pedestrian kerb sitting marginally higher than the cycling surface, residents saying they both previously looked like they were at the same height, causing people to fall.
However, despite this work being undertaken last year, and Bath and North East Somerset Council saying the number of incidents is reducing, it has been reported that people are still suffering injuries, including fractures and lost teeth.
"It very soon became clear that there was a real issue with the varying non standard kerb heights. It was also obvious that there was an optical illusion that disguised the changes in levels," Conservative councillor Alan Hale explained.
A cross-party group of councillors had hoped to force the Liberal Democrat-run council to act, but said attempts were "fruitless", one of the Lib Dems' own councillors, Hal MacFie, proposing a motion to commit the council to investigate the cost of fixing the kerb height issue.
However, this motion was recently withdrawn, meaning the infrastructure will remain in place in its current form for the foreseeable future. The councillors behind the proposal reportedly feared it would be easily dismissed due to an unspecified amendment put forward by the administration that could "crush" the proposal.
With a six-month rule in place, preventing repeat motions, it could not be proposed again until March 2024 at the earliest, prompting the councillors to withdraw the motion in the hope of bringing a stronger case in the future.
A council source insisted that the amendment causing concern was standard practice for any administration on any motion, and stressed that a "Stage 4 safety audit" on the infrastructure is already underway to look into potential safety concerns.
"We understand the Keynsham councillors decided to withdraw their motion whilst we await the Stage 4 safety audit," a spokesperson said.
"We're taking reports of all falls seriously. The majority of incidents happened within the first six months of the scheme going in and the number of incidents is decreasing as people get used to the changes and in light of the amendments we have already made.
"We are listening and the Stage 4 road safety audit we commissioned will guide us. An example of an improvement we've already made is to introduce the red cycle lane finish last August."
In April, Tory MP Rees-Mogg weighed in on the issue in his North East Somerset constituency, saying the "experiment has failed" and "it should go back to being a two-way street".
It should go back to being a two way street. This experiment has failed.https://t.co/WFHQpj8HHl
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) April 26, 2023
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.