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“Actively unsafe” town centre bike lanes slammed by cycling campaigners

“They don’t protect people riding bikes and they confuse people driving cars. Cycle infrastructure should be for all ages and abilities”

Cycle lanes recently installed on a town centre street have been branded “pointless” and “actively unsafe” by local cycling campaigners and politicians.

Initially billed as “next-generation cycling infrastructure” by Oxfordshire County Council when consultation began on the project in January 2021, the bike lanes eventually installed on Corn Street in Witney as part of the market town’s “major cycle scheme” instead amounted to 1.3-metre-wide advisory lines of paint, situated next to car parking spaces on both sides of the road.

According to Cycling UK, “where cycle lanes are introduced, the absolute minimum width is 1.5 metres, but two metres is preferred and essential at higher speeds… Anything less than 1.5 metres (minimum) deprives cyclists of road space and encourages traffic to pass too close.”

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As the Witney Gazette reports, the dangers associated with the narrow, advisory lanes were raised at the town council during the summer, where it was claimed that time constraints during the consultation process, and the need to quickly spend the allocated active travel funds, had resulted in the questionable cycling infrastructure.

The council also claimed that the width of the lanes was agreed through consultation with Oxfordshire County Council’s Road Safety Team, who deemed 1.3 metres suitable to provide space for cyclists whilst also accommodating two-way traffic and parking spaces on the road.

It added that Corn Street now has a 20mph limit – introduced as part of the same scheme – and that traffic on the road is relatively low.

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However, the project and its divisive bike lanes have been widely panned by local politicians and active travel campaigners.

Kath Cochrane, founder of West Oxfordshire’s Windrush Bike Project, said of the Corn Street cycle lanes: “They don’t protect people riding bikes and they confuse people driving cars.

“Cycle infrastructure should be for all ages and abilities. The new 20mph speed limit, which is good for pedestrians and cyclists, should be more visible to drivers as well.”

“Corn Street is a narrow market town road with cars parked both sides and it’s my view that cycle lanes should not be used alongside parked cars,” local resident Robert Haydon told the Witney Gazette. “I cannot see any aspect on Corn Street that is safe for cycle lanes.”

Former Conservative county councillor and county cycling champion Suzanne Bartington also described the lanes as “actively unsafe” with “no evidence to support them – a real waste of public funds”.

One Facebook user added: “They are not fit for purpose, and actually make the road more dangerous. Get rid of them, NOW.”

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Responding to the criticisms, Oxfordshire County Council told the Witney Gazette that the lanes are part of a temporary trial and will be reviewed in conjunction with future improvements to Corn Street.

“Several other additional measures have been introduced as part of the trial to provide a safer space for cyclists,” a council spokesperson said.

“These include removing the centre line road marking, a 500mm buffer zone between the parking bays and adjacent cycle lanes in Corn Street, and cycle symbols laid across the mouth of each side road junction.”

The county council has also recently applied for funding from the Government’s Capability and Ambition Fund to develop plans for a permanent long-term scheme for Corn Street.

“In addition to this, the forthcoming Witney Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), due for consultation later in 2022, and the forthcoming Witney Area Travel Plan due 2023/24, will help develop a safe cycle network for Witney,” the spokesperson said.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Pedal those squares | 1 year ago

Just a point of order.  1.5M cycle lanes mean nothing, the Highway Code states that the distance between the cyclist and the car (driven by someone) must be at leat 1.5M.....nothing to do with width of a cycle lane.  Where ever you are on the road the driver needs to pass at least 1.5M away from you! 

As far as I am aware the 1.5M "Space" is from the bit of the cyclest furthest out from the kurb.

So I will ask a question. "What has a 1.5M (Other widths are available) bike lane got to do with anything?"

wtjs replied to Pedal those squares | 1 year ago

So I will ask a question. "What has a 1.5M (Other widths are available) bike lane got to do with anything?"

Nothing. The only function of those dangerous and useless lanes is to legitimise vehicles passing you with any amount of clearance they choose, including zero or less than zero if they hit you with the mirror

1.5M cycle lanes mean nothing, the Highway Code states that the distance between the cyclist and the car (driven by someone) must be at least 1.5M.....

Unfortunately, as The Filth never tire of gleefully crowing over, there is no 'must' involved- and even if there is, such as in the HC sections concerning red traffic light signals, the police don't bother with the law anyway and just write off the offences with 'well, everybody does it'. Regular readers will know that Lancashire Constabulary was too busy to make any response to this Archway of Fleetwood bus AR12 WAY, because of their policy that cyclists who can't even be bothered to get killed or seriously injured deserve all they get


Awavey | 1 year ago

has anyone ever seen a 1.5metre cycle ever ?

even in the unanimously approved by councillors, 1500 page, East Suffolk cycling & walking strategy that claims to follow LTN 1/20.  I dont recall any 1.5 metre cycle lanes being proposed.

geomannie 531 replied to Awavey | 1 year ago

Depressing familiar. This image shows the 1m wide, car door zone cycle lane I am asked to use every day ☹️.

BalladOfStruth replied to Awavey | 1 year ago

None that I've ever seen are that wide. With the exception of some utterly shite mixed-use paths, the only cycling infra on my old commute was ~200m of cycle-lane that - although I don't know exactly how wide it was - was narrower than the handlebars on my flat-bar BMC and only just wider than my drop-bar bikes.

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