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"Bizarre" seven-foot-long cycle lane a "waste of money" critics claim, but council insists it isn't a bike lane

The 2.4m lane in Birmingham has made national newspaper headlines, prompting the city's council to defend its decision to add the markings...

A seven-foot-long stretch of road in Birmingham has caused social media ridicule, local and national newspaper headlines and an official council response.

The 2.4m-long painted markings in Stirchley have attracted criticism from locals who say the apparent cycle lane is "bizarre" and a "waste of money", and appeared in the Independent who reported the council has been blasted for the tiny lane "barely the length of a bike".

And local resident Lauren Hastings told the newspaper "it's completely useless" and "just pointless and a waste of money", but Birmingham City Council has defended the 'lane', which it says is not even a cycle lane after all.

> "That was really exciting!" Longridge local tries out Lancashire's 'shortest cycle lane'

A council spokesperson said: "This isn't a cycle lane it is just for transition purposes for cyclists getting off the Toucan crossing onto the carriageway.

"There is a shared pedestrian and cycle route that connects to the River Rea route with two new Toucan crossings on Pershore Road and Hazelwell Street. This carriageway marking provides the formal transition from the crossing or footway onto the carriageway."

However, the messaging does not seem to have reached the community, with one resident sharing a photo of the markings on Facebook, saying it "is around the length of a bike, brilliant, I'll look forward to cycling along it. What a joke".

Mother-of-one Ms Hastings said she "couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it, I thought the council must have had some paint left over. It's completely useless, how does it benefit cyclists at all? They would be on there for a split second before they are back on the road.

"It is probably more dangerous as it sends them straight back into traffic. You've got to laugh in a way but it's just stupid planning really. It's just pointless and a waste of money. I don't get why they went to the bother of even doing it."

Another said, "I wonder how much it cost to do that because they can't afford to do so many other things on our roads to make them safe 'apparently'?"

Someone else joked it is best to "hope you don't have a tandem".

Cycle lane or not, the short Stirchley section has competition for the official title of Britain's briefest bike lane, with an eight-foot lane popping up in Stroud, Gloucestershire midway through the last decade.

Back in 2021, Nottinghamshire County Council also insisted new road markings in its county were not a cycle lane after the apparent infrastructure, which "takes two and a half seconds to ride over", was subject to similar ridicule as Birmingham's new paint.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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check12 | 1 year ago

I mean, they are right, it isn't a bike lane 

Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

I keep expecting you to bring this one up when I see smallest bike lane articles


Also in relation to this one, in the other media sources who show a different picture of the lane, theres an End of cycle Route sign right where these road markings are (on top of the post you can see in the picture here)

IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
1 like

While a justification, the reality is that it serves no function - lying in hospital groaning "but there was white paint" isn't going to make a jot of difference as to whether motorists give space, indeed, arguably they've just excused the motorist from a close pass, as they can say:

1) they didn't check for me before entering the road.

2) I didn't cross the paint so I was in my lane, what's the problem officer?


There is another problem. The end of that lane is effectively a merge but the SLOW creates the impression of some sort of end of lane for the bike lane. Had that locally in Solihull - they painted an END and a cycle logo at the end of lanes, so motorists, when arguing about me appearing from nowhere would claim I should have given way to them (even though they were behind) as they thought they were give way symbols. Now removed.

quiff | 1 year ago

I have some sympathy with the "it's not a cycle lane, it's a transition marking" argument. Here is another example, marking where cyclists are directed to rejoin the carriageway, from a shared use path: . Unfortunately the shared use path in question is a pointless 100 yard diversion from the main road so that drivers don't have to slow down for a pinch point.        

jh2727 replied to quiff | 1 year ago

This one appears to be either a dedicated path, or they've widen the shared use path (taking some of the space that was a lane on the carriageway).  It would be good to know what proceeds this bit of diagonal kerb stones, but it is too new for streetview:

DoomeFrog | 1 year ago

There could be something in this type of "intrastructure" approaching a juntion under the new HWC rules.  A bit like ZigZags approaching a Zebra.

Why not have an advisory cycle lane across the junction to indicate to other road users that cyclists have right of way and they need to be aware.

Obviously it needs to span the junction rather than just the approach but it may help remind drivers that there is a "lane of traffic" that they need to cross to enter or exit the junction.

HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago

It does annoy me that people who don't ride bikes consider themselves qualified to judge the value-for-money of every piece of cycle infra they see (and inevitably deem it "a waste of money").

Yes that road marking looks pretty pointless. On the whole, Birmingham & the West Midlands seem to be making an effort and heading in the right direction.

BalladOfStruth replied to HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago

HarrogateSpa wrote:

It does annoy me that people who don't ride bikes consider themselves qualified to judge the value-for-money of every piece of cycle infra they see (and inevitably deem it "a waste of money").

It's not so much that that annoys me, it's the fact that such comments (thanks to the "Road Tax myth, which is still somehow persisting, 86 years after being abolished) usually come from the perspective of "I've payed for that bit infra to be provided to you free of charge, and you're not even using it".

I pay income tax and councli tax too, if I'm having to shun a piece of infra because it's badly designed/dangerous, I'm just as pissed off about that as they are.

chrisonabike replied to HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
1 like

It looks pointless, but don't be fooled, it is pointless!  And useless.  Being a dashed line it means precisely nothing.  So whatever was the intent it's a waste of paint.

Dunno what comes before it but if some kind of cycle path / access I suspect the idea of this paint is less "warning!  Cyclists merging in" than "we've got a side road we didn't deal with properly as we ended the cycle realm before that, so... er... this might be something we can display in court when someone gets left-hooked."

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