Cycling Routes designed by Bogie Man
We are a hearing a lot lately about crazy cycle route designing in the UK. Warrington Cycling Campaign have a 'Facility of the Month' of bizarre examples from around the country - CLICK
In the 1990s Dr Mayer Hillman observed in the book, Cycling Towards Health & Safety (British Medical Association), that probably less than 2% of staff in the Department of Transport dealt with cycling even on a part time basis, and their effectiveness in promoting cycling was questionable. Many of of us may agree. Whilst there are highly qualified and committed professionals around, there are areas where expertise is noticeably absent, with the suspicion that sometimes the responsibility for some schemes has been left in the paws of the office cat.
Across the border from Wales, CYCLE ENGLAND, the successor to the National Cycling Strategy, is trying to change things. It's launched a comprehensive draft portfolio of guidance and examples of cycle friendly infrastructure, with the caveat that ideas are still evolving. Suggestions are invited to assist this process.
CTC's Tony Russell, Team Coordinator of CYCLE ENGLAND, points out that any local authority in England may draw upon its Professional Support Services team. With up to five days free support to help relieve some of their workloads and the possibility of other organisations working alongside, priority would be given to opportunities that concentrate resources on where the assistance of the team might make most difference, and which contribute to Cycling England's guiding principles of leverage, impact and focus. (Click here)
Great if you happen to be in England! But nothing comparable in Wales.
Below we give you examples of route infrastructure found on National Cycle Route 5 between Pensarn and Colwyn Bay. Against the advice of CTC Cymru not to place solid structures next to delineated routing, recently there has been a plethora of barriers going up which make no concession to cyclists' safety. Indeed it raises the question as to whether any safety audit has taken place, and if so, whether it has recognised that those who cycle have just as much right to be safeguarded as anyone else.
Much cycle path design is based on a fallacious notion that cyclists are automatons, and respond to being 'steered' according to the dictates of the drawing board. It's almost as if some designers haven't progressed much beyond those halcyon days when many of us played Hornby trains in front of the fire on cold winter nights.
Take for example, a family group with mum, dad, the old folks and the kids out for day on their bikes. They chat, and move in relation to each other in a flexible way. Just like any group of pedestrians, they don't move with military precision like squadies on a parade ground, or within a rigid framework like the bogie on a train engine. Their group stretches and flexes in a relaxed manner as they enjoy their day out together . They are not on the look out for the unexpected in the wrong place. Certainly nothing within inches that could cause serious injury. The photos below are recent examples of particularly hazardous infrastructure on NCR5 within the County Borough of Conwy. These pay no regard to cyclists' safety. Do let us know if you have any examples of your own in North Wales. If you wish, we'll give you a mention.
|Space allocated for car parking on Colwyn Bay prom. Barriers barely visible at dusk, even for those with good vision. The intention, presumably, to stop cyclists riding into parked cars which are far more visible. A common example of placing more value on a car at no risk, than a human being at great risk.|
|You've descended a hill. Circled a roundabout, checked traffic to the right, and keeping an eye on any traffic to the left. Within a second you aim to pootle onto the prom. Look closely for the death trap.|
|You are cycling at the rear of a group. Just as if you were walking behind friends, your vision ahead would be partly obscured by the person or persons ahead. You just happen to move a few inches to the side of the person in front. The prospect of a very nasty collision with a post - and serious injury ? But for the camera flash the posts would have been far less obvious.|
|National Cycle Route 5 (Kinmel Bay): Matt Hodges of Preston sends us this example of infrastructure which takes little account of user types. There is an alternative route using quiet residential roads. This reconnects with NCN 5 about 1/4 mile away, near the Asda store|
|NCN route 5 Penmaenbach. This hazard should be be mounted with a soft warning post. It has the potential to throw a rider into the A55 traffic stream|