If evidence were needed that some see pop-up bike lanes as nothing more than an inconvenience, one Leicester cyclist has photographed truck drivers not merely parking in bike lanes, but removing the wands that segregate the lane from motor traffic to do so. There is even a photo of one driver who has simply driven over one.
The straightforwardly-named @cyclelane_user yesterday posted a series of images of flattened or removed cycle lane wands.
— Cycle Lane (@cyclelane_user) November 27, 2020
The issue has been flagged to the Mayor of Leicester and at least one of the firms responsible, but without response.
It’s not uncommon for cycle lane infrastructure to be tampered with. Many of London’s low traffic neighbourhoods have been blighted by vandalism, while theft and deliberate damage led to the removal of two pop-up bike lanes in Teesside.
Pop-up lanes are also being removed for other reasons. West Sussex has removed several because "traffic has significantly increased," while a somewhat nebulous sense of ill-feeling about a lane in Shoreham-on-Sea has led to it being scrapped – even after the council voted to keep it.
Some would say this all seems symptomatic of a tendency to see pop-up lanes as things to be tolerated only in the short-term – perhaps no surprise given their billing as temporary measures.
Earlier this month 14 Conservative MPs – including former minister for cycling Robert Goodwill – appealed to transport secretary Grant Shapps to withdraw emergency active travel funding for such initiatives, arguing that millions of people are feeling “victimised” by “road restrictions.”
The letter was also supported by anti-cycling lobby groups Fair Fuel UK, the Association of British Drivers and the Motorcycle Action Group, as well as the Road Haulage Association.
Cycling UK rubbished the argument.
The charity’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said: “If they listened to the experts, which is perhaps a big ask for some of them, they’d discover that investing in cycling and walking initiatives is incredibly cost effective; moves more people in less space, reducing rather than causing congestion; and boosts the local economy. Or perhaps they do know this, but the facts just don’t suit their narrative.
“They claim this policy is indefensible, but whilst the policy may not have been perfectly implemented, what’s indefensible is the short-sighted do nothing attitude these MPs are displaying to measures designed to enable more people to move around our towns and cities more efficiently, in a healthier socially distanced manner, whilst reducing air pollution and carbon emissions.
“But why bother about evidence, the environment and longer term solutions to endemic problems when you can blame everything on a cycle lane?”