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Motorists furious at width of £1.2m cycle lane project claim "utterly absurd" scheme an "attack on your right to drive a car"

The council has taken a calmer attitude to the infrastructure, pointing out there is "a real desire from local residents" to "make it more convenient for people in the area to be able to walk and cycle safely"...

An active travel scheme in North Wales has attracted the familiar outrage and fury from a section of the local community, critics claiming that the "absolute madness" £1.2 million project will see cycle lanes "broader than car lanes" and amounts to an "attack on your right to drive a car".

In reality, the council responded, the three-metre-wide shared-use path is replacing a pavement that was previously two and a half metres wide, the scheme coming after a consultation found 47 per cent were "very supportive" of an improved pedestrian path and 48 per cent said they were "likely" or "very likely" to change their method of travel if a shared-use path was installed.

Penrhos Road active travel scheme in Bangor (image credit: Griffiths in the community)

[Griffiths civil engineers]

However, North Wales Live reports some have accused the council of having "completely lost the plot" and holding an "anti-car agenda" amid claims the scheme is an "accident waiting to happen".

"It's utterly absurd that the cycle lane is broader than car lanes," one local said. "This leaves drivers desperately squeezing past potholes, which the council seems utterly oblivious to. Absolute madness."

"They've completely lost the plot. Even the cycle paths in Amsterdam with thousands of people using them are not this wide. This is nothing more than an attack on your right to drive a car," another said.

The project has been funded with money from the Welsh Government's Active Travel fund, a Cyngor Gwynedd spokesperson explaining that it will connect "residential areas with schools, the hospital and employment areas" and has been developed "in response to safety concerns in the area over a number of years".

Penrhos Road active travel scheme in Bangor (image credit: Griffiths in the community)

"We are pleased that the scheme will provide active travel options for those travelling to primary and secondary schools in the area," they said. "We are confident the improvements will make it easier for children and parents to get to school and nursery safely by foot or bicycle."

Likewise, councillor Dafydd Meurig stressed there had been a "real desire from local residents for years to improve the situation and make it more convenient for people in the area to be able to walk and cycle safely".

"While we accept that the temporary work will cause some inconvenience in the short term, I am confident that the people of the area will see the benefits of the improvements very soon," he said.

Once completed, the path will have improved and new zebra crossings and parallel crossings, giving users "frequent opportunities to cross" and "priority to cycles, pedestrians and wheelers".

Penrhos Road active travel scheme in Bangor (image credit: Griffiths in the community)

However, adding to the complaints, some have branded it a "waste of money" and raised concerns the shared-use path will be an "accident waiting to happen" with drivers pulling out of driveways and cyclists riding close to pedestrians. 

That said, another resident told the local news website that they had felt "trapped" by the fast road and would welcome the scheme as it was "very difficult to cross the road" when walking children to school.

The local authority, Cyngor Gwynedd, responded to the complaints about the width of the scheme, pointing out that it is just half a metre wider than the previous pavement and the road is still six metres wide, including parking bays, double the width of the shared-use path.

Civil engineering contractor Griffiths, whose pictures of the scheme illustrate this article, said the scheme should be completed in late spring 2024, and accepted that "road narrowing" was part of the works being undertaken, alongside the creation of the new active travel path, installation of new kerbs, crossings and signage.

Dan is the road.cc 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 road.cc 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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30 comments

Avatar
bikeman01 | 1 month ago
2 likes

What is ridiculous is there are probably too few drop kerbs, many dog walkers, parked cars, forced to stop every few metres etc to make the new lane actually usable, so cyclists that want to make decent progress will now have even less space should they choose to ride on the road. 

I would much prefer just having wider roads to ride on so I have space and arent put into conflict with drivers.

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chrisonabike replied to bikeman01 | 1 month ago
7 likes

bikeman01 wrote:

I would much prefer just having wider roads to ride on so I have space and brought into less conflict with drivers.

There's some truth to that, and I understand that reaction also.

However I'd question it on two grounds:

1) If drivers can't see you and safely pass you when it's obvious they'll need to go all the way into the lane in the opposite direction, what makes you think they'll miss you on a wider road?

It's actually the wider roads where I've had the scary passes.  Maybe because that signals "more speed" to drivers and/or they think they don't actually need to move because "there's plenty of space" (for the cyclist to dive out of the way, if they notice in time)?

2) The attitude of "but I can just cycle on the roads per usual - in fact, anyone can" is not just "I'm alright Jack".  It's saying "actually, I don't need any change" (just as much as councils merely sticking up "shared use" signs is).  That's because most people (all over the UK) have shown they simply won't cycle on roads with high speed motor traffic and / or high traffic volumes.  I know that separate infra isn't necessarily enough to get people out of their cars (for some journeys) - but without it, they definitely won't.

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polainm | 1 month ago
6 likes

"...accident waiting to happen..." says driver who most likely doesn't know much of the HWC, never gives space to people on bikes and reads the Daily Mail. Welcome to #brokenbritain .

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Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
21 likes

In a world that faces some of the most egregious threats to the continued existence of humanity that we have ever known, people are going beserk over the fact that a path has been widened by approximately the distance from the tip of my forefinger to my elbow and they are accusing the council of having "totally lost the plot". Extraordinary.

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Boopop | 1 month ago
8 likes

Cry some more, carbrains.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
13 likes

If we are to meet our net zero commitment we have to reduce car use by 50%.
Unfortunately our shyster politicians haven't got the balls to tell the hoi polloi the truth.
When it all goes tits up in the next decade or two I'll just laugh at all the poor, fat drivers who believe they've been hard done to.
Fucking wankers!

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wtjs replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
13 likes

we have to reduce car use by 50%

There will be no reduction in car use until it's forced upon them, and BentGov Inc. will continue to subsidise car use with fuel duty giveaways as long as they're permitted to. 

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Bungle_52 replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
11 likes

wtjs wrote:

we have to reduce car use by 50%

There will be no reduction in car use until it's forced upon them, and BentGov Inc. will continue to subsidise car use with fuel duty giveaways as long as they're permitted to. 

Which effectively means until we change our first past the post system for elections.

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wycombewheeler replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
9 likes

wtjs wrote:

we have to reduce car use by 50%

There will be no reduction in car use until it's forced upon them, and BentGov Inc. will continue to subsidise car use with fuel duty giveaways as long as they're permitted to. 

fuel duty has not increased since 2011, petrol costs a whopping 3% more now than in 2014.

If this is the "war on motorists" can we have a war on people that need houses? because I am sure housing costs have not gone up by only 3% in ten year.

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Muddy Ford replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
4 likes

Car wankers!  1

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cmedred | 1 month ago
11 likes

An "'accident waiting to happen' with cyclists riding close to pedestrians'' as opposed to the safe situation of motorists driving close to cyclists? What are the numbers again as to the number of pedestrians killed when struck by cyclists versus the number of cyclists AND PEDESTRIANS struck and killed by motor vehicles?

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chrisonabike replied to cmedred | 1 month ago
5 likes

Well... here's a graphic version of an answer to that (animated one further down the page).  Or - shorter - numbers of pedestrians killed on footways by motor vehicles...

But... they actually should just stop with the continuous footway already!  Unless ... it's a stealthy plan to make cyclists and cycling even less popular by building in confict between modes and frustration for cyclists?

(The "it's a bit more complicated..." answer - I'm not sure the numbers actually tell us much with sufficient clarity due to how they're recorded e.g. the "coding".  Then obviously you will want to adjust the raw numbers because there are lots more people driving than cycling at any given moment.  But then how do you do that?  Normally this seems to be "per billion vehicle miles" but then the average driver will go further than the average [or even above average] cyclist so that's effectively changing the *duration* of exposure.  Then the types of interaction - e.g. where pedestrians and cyclists interact - include different locations from motor vehicles etc.)

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sheridan replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

 Normally this seems to be "per billion vehicle miles" but then the average driver will go further than the average [or even above average] cyclist so that's effectively changing the *duration* of exposure.  

Does the average driver go further than the average cyclist?  Aren't there loads of car journeys less than three miles in length?  I commute about ten miles each way on weekdays and I see a lot of other people on long sections of the route (granted that professional motor users would travel a lot further)*.

 

* then again, professional cycle users would also travel a lot further.  It's complicated.

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chrisonabike replied to sheridan | 1 month ago
1 like

EDIT - add links!

Well, that's a good question:

Apparently from MOT data the average yearly mileage per car is 6,370 miles in 2022.

However - most people are doing less than that, while a few are doing much more.  So the *modal average* bracket (most people are driving with this distance) is 3,000 – 4,000 miles.

So either give yourself a pat on the back, or there are a couple of new training targets!

However for comparison in 2022 the Dutch collectively averaged (source here - there are slightly different numbers different places but theyr comparable):

Cycle: 1,108km per year by bike (what we can expect from "mass cycling").
Walk: 441km (274 miles)
Drive (as driver): 5,524km
Train: 955km

In the UK, in 2022 the averages for active travel were:
Walk: 221 miles
Cycl: 57 miles

I think that shows the difference pretty clearly - we even walk less, never mind cycling!

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stonojnr replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

57 miles per year ? Is that per head of population or actually among people who fill in one of those surveys and claim to cycle?

The walking one not surprised at, literally this weekend saw a driver pull out of a golf club entrance and then parked on his driveway two doors away, no more than a 10min walk and he drove it instead, I guess those golf clubs are really heavy to carry.

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chrisonabike replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
0 likes

stonojnr wrote:

57 miles per year ? Is that per head of population or actually among people who fill in one of those surveys and claim to cycle?

It's always a question - in this case it's the average per capita I think, apparently from the National Travel Survey (NTS) and the Active Lives Survey (ALS)

I'm sure there's a lot of selection bias but it could actually be working the opposite way you think.  Perhaps it's that big because all those "avid cyclists" eagerly entering the miles they've carefully recorded (maybe including the odd Zwift one too - after all they still rode it)?

In the case of the UK it's an average of extremes in both different places (e.g. Cambridge vs. e.g. Grimsby) and different groups.  Overall it probably works out at 80-something% effectively never cycle, 8% might a handful of times per year (holiday), a couple of percent of people who cycle a mile or so a few times per a week ... and then the tiny readership of road.cc putting in a century or so each week, every week (plus those too busy cycling even to be reading it).

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wycombewheeler replied to cmedred | 1 month ago
4 likes

cmedred wrote:

An "'accident waiting to happen' with cyclists riding close to pedestrians'' as opposed to the safe situation of motorists driving close to cyclists? What are the numbers again as to the number of pedestrians killed when struck by cyclists versus the number of cyclists AND PEDESTRIANS struck and killed by motor vehicles?

34 pedestrians a year killed by motor vehicle drivers on the pavement 

https://www.cyclinguk.org/briefing/cycling-and-pedestrians#:~:text=But%2...).

Almost as if entitled drivers are an accident waiting to happen

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HoarseMann | 1 month ago
15 likes

It needs to be this wide so pedestrians and cyclists can still get past when motorists inevitably park on it.

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
18 likes

"completely lost the plot"

"anti-car agenda"

"accident waiting to happen"

"It's utterly absurd...."

"Absolute madness."

".....attack on your right to drive a car,"

"waste of money"

 

HOUSE!

 

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morgoth985 replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
2 likes

"Attack on your right to drive a car" 

as for "completely lost the plot" - pot and kettle I think.

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sheridan replied to morgoth985 | 1 month ago
5 likes

Morgoth985 wrote:

"Attack on your right to drive a car" 

as for "completely lost the plot" - pot and kettle I think.

Yes - I don't rememember having a right to drive a car - I thought I'd have to take some sort of exam before I was allowed to do it!

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HLaB replied to morgoth985 | 1 month ago
5 likes

Don't You Know There's a War On? 

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wtjs | 1 month ago
11 likes

Well done, Cyngor Gwynedd! Ignore the car nutters- we say no to appeasement, and shared use with pedestrians just has to be accepted

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jaymack | 1 month ago
11 likes

The driving fraternity are right about one thing, 'shared use' is indeed madness. When will local authorities learn that a shared use path just guarantees that before the ashphalt has been rolled a whole new set of confrontations will be tarmacked in?

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dreamlx10 | 1 month ago
14 likes

You could have just used "Motorists Furious" as the headline, and for most other stories really

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hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
20 likes

"Right to drive" - yeah, it's not a right. You may upon meeting the necessary requirements hold a license to allow you to drive.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
7 likes

Inna Magna Carta innit? Granted it probably referenced right to drive sheep or beasts of burden rather than Honda Civics. And might have been subject to you fulfilling your duties to your feudal overlord.

Stands to rights though.

The "Freemen on the Land" types helpfully got this clarified some years back (this line is probably of interest to those concerned about "15 minute cities" also). Pseudo-legal arguments and tortured logic available at:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/common_law_right_to_travel

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Mad Franky replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
4 likes

that was some rabbit hole by the end of it... pseudo-legal aruments and tortured logic indeed.

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Velo-drone | 1 month ago
22 likes

Amazing ain't it ... the same people who think cyclists should be banned from roads and should only ever go on cycle paths also have a total psycho meltdown as soon as any cycle lane is built or suggested.

Glad to see councils finally getting wise to the futility of trying to please these noise-making dinosaurs ...

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OldRidgeback replied to Velo-drone | 1 month ago
11 likes

Yes of course, cyclists should not be on the road because they hold up traffic and don't pay road tax and run red lights and don't have number plates so riders can't be prosecuted but should instead use cycle lanes but cycle lanes should not be built because they're a waste of money and take over road space from cars and drivers never run red lights or avoid paying road tax which nobody pays because it was abolished in 1937.

I think that's the set of principles on show here.

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