New Cycle Lane near me - appropriate signage?

Flambes Posts: 191
edited February 2009 in Campaign
A new cycle lane is being constructed near me. The contractors are reducing the width of the road and increasing the width of the pavement by about 1-2 ft. It's already a narrow road, and still will be a fairly narrow pavement. This slightly wider pavement is to be a shared pedestrian / cycle lane.
In the words of the council, the lane is designed for inexperienced cyclists and to encourage cycle use to a nearby school.
The cycle lane will in no way be suitable for fast moving, experienced cyclists, who will now be forced to either weave in and out of slow moving pedestrians and cyclists, or share the now narrower road with traffic who believe you should be on the cycle path.
Worse, it's on a hill, so if you are going the wrong way, you could have a lot of frustrated drivers, especially if they think you shouldn't be there.
It's obviously too late to get the cycle path stopped or the design changed, but if appropriate signage could be employed, to clearly indicate which traffic should go where, I think it would help.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be suitable?


  • I would have thought that an inexperienced rider would need more space, not less. I suspect the council only need to tick the box that says 'cycle lane completed' to meet their performance quotas.

    My first point of acton would be to ask the councils which cycing groups were consulted and what their responses were.
    If these groups weren't consulted or objected and the council went ahead anyway, then you might have the basis of a media article along the lines of 'council puts children in danger' with which to apply pressure.

    it is very hard to find a decent cycle friendly initiative/facility proposed by the council. There are some that seem to have been put forward by someone who has never seen a bicycle.

    Would you be willing to invite posts on how we respond to poor/wasteful council transport planning?
  • But in the original post it is pointed out that the path is for:

    inexperienced cyclists and to encourage cycle use to a nearby school.

    i.e. children to cycle to school. Such measures are designed to reduce traffic during the school run and encourage greater cycling to school - these are not dangerous for children they improve safety.

    Why should 'fast moving, experienced cyclists' expect to be using a cycle path close to a school?

    Traffic on narrower lanes tends to travel more slowly - this is safer for cyclists. Neither you nor the cars should be travelling fast past a school when there are large numbers of school children cycling and walking anyway.

    This is not (on the face of what you have written) poor council transport planning; it's simply directed at a group that probably does not include you.
  • Flambes
    Flambes Posts: 191
    OK, a bit more background. The route is a 40mph limit, a B road, but a well used one by traffic travelling to and from surrounding villages and a fairly large city.
    Also, athough the school is nearby, the cycle path ends about 500m before it.

    Before the road narrowing you'd usually have cars queuing behind you to pass; it's not an easy road to do so. So I can see why they want a cycle path and if it increases cycle use from the city and back again - great.

    I, the council and fast moving, experienced cyclists will not be expected to use the path, but I can bet a high percentage of car drivers who think they pay for the roads and hence the cycle path (I do like a sweeping generalisation, but go to Pistonheads and you'll see it there, albeit a minority), will do. I can see, unless it is clearly marked to all road users, that only slow moving, inexperienced cyclists should be on there, it's going to lead to dangerours, close overtakes, abuse and higher risk for those sharing the road.

    To Eternal_headwind, good points about the consultation side, I know someone on the council, so can approach them.
  • Flambes wrote:
    I, the council and fast moving, experienced cyclists will not be expected to use the path, but I can bet a high percentage of car drivers who think they pay for the roads and hence the cycle path will do. I can see, unless it is clearly marked to all road users, that only slow moving, inexperienced cyclists should be on there, it's going to lead to dangerours, close overtakes, abuse and higher risk for those sharing the road.

    To Eternal_headwind, good points about the consultation side, I know someone on the council, so can approach them.

    Sorry, it took me a while to understand what you were saying but I think it is that car drivers will expect ALL cyclists to be on the path and hence act aggressively toward those choosing not to use it - is that correct?

    If so then that may well be the case but that cost has to be weighed against the benefit of encouraging future drivers (i.e. the school children) to cycle more. Plus, over time drivers should get used to the fact that it's a slow moving road and maybe use it less? Only time will tell but that doesn't automatically mean that the council are wrong in what they are doing. If we want more children to cycle to school, and I think we do, then provision has to be made to allow them to do so and bullying drivers should not be allowed to highjack those plans.
  • simple_salmon, you are perfectlycorrect in saying that we all want to encourage bicycle use. This desire extends to all sections of the community.
    There has also been a tendency for councils to behae in breaktakingly silly manners. Just go to and click on 'facility of the month' to see many fine examples of this behaviour, and well documented too.

    What I am suggesting is that we reject the current attitude that once the paint is dry it is no one's fault. If the council has made a mistake the individuals cncerned should be held to account. If they have a strategy to improve cycling and they are not blindly executing an ill conceived performance target, then they deserve praise.

    Good luck Flambes with your enquiry. Please let us know how this goes, but be cautious in protecting your friend at the council.
  • Flambes, when my council installed a number of cycle tracks alongside the carriageway, I found that the car drivers initially objected my continuing to cycle on the road. I complained to the council that installing the cycle tracks was a disincentive to me cycling. All I got in reply was a leter saying that the tracks were not designed for experienced cyclists. Anyway, as time went on, the number of drivers blaring their horns / shouting at me went down from 2 - 3 a week to one every 2 or 3 months after about a year. Now, 4 years later, I may get a couple of "objections" a year.
    FCN 7 (4 weekdays)
    FCN 11 (1 weekday)

    There is an old cyclist called Leigh (not me!)
    Who's pedalling's a blur to see
    So fast is his action
    The Lorenz Contraction
    Shortens his bike to a "T"
  • Is entrapment a dirty word? Nope.

    OrbitrRider. Do you still have the communication the coucil sent you sent you? I only ask because I wonder what their reply would be if you wrote in as a inexperienced cyclist commenting that the cycle path was unsuitable? Would they respond by sayng it was for experienced riders only?
  • Eternal: I've dug out the letters. Here's a few selected highlights:

    My letter:
    "In view of the length of this letter, I have summarised my arguments below:
    - Cycling infrastructure in *** is being installed in reverse order to that recommended in ***shire's cycling strategy & 'Cycle Friendly Infrastructure' (i.e. off-road cycle paths are priority).
    - Standard of infrastructure is very poor: very little meets the minimum requirements set out in the guidelines and is often more dangerous than using the road.
    - On-road provision is not installed becuase, it is argued, it causes "confusion" to cyclists. This does not seem to stop designers installing cycle tracks that are genuinely confusing.
    - The current policy of 'cycle tracks only' is causing motorists to resent and intimidate cyclists who prefer to use the road. Such incidents are becoming more common.
    - Please could you ensure that road designers apply the standards correctly and that the quality of cycle infrastructure meets those standards."
    (this was followed by three pages of examples & a critique of the cycling strategy).

    Response from Council:
    "- The County Council does, where possible, follow the heirarchy of measures set out in the Cycling Strategy. *** Road has a traffic calming scheme which aims to reduce speeds thereby making it easier and safer for cyclists to use that particular route on-carriageway. However this type of measure is not always practicable or possible and the next best measure according to the hierarchy has to be considered.
    - We are working within the restricted boundaries in terms of road width. Where there is enough space to provide an on-carriageway facility, this would be the first choice, for example as has been provided on *** Street. However, unfortunately, this is not possible.
    - It is important to remember that not everybody is an 'experienced cyclist'. You may be correct in saying that an experienced cyclist would not be confused when faced with two possible routes. However, the County Council is encouraging cyclists with all levels of experience to use the routes that are being provided and must bear in mind when implementing new facilities for cyclists.
    - *** County Council have not implemented cycle lanes according to the guidance that you state anywhere in the County.
    - *** County Council involves cycling groups in consultation on schemes, welcomes their views and takes on board any suggestions that it can."

    My reply:
    "-While I take your point that not all cyclists are experienced and that new cyclists need to be catered for, this should not be at the expense of making things worse for those experienced cyclists who consider most off-road infrastructure to be inferior to the road. When an off-road track is clearly marked, motor vehicle drivers expect all cyclists to use it and are intolerant of cyclists who prefer to stay on the road. This makes cycling conditions worse. Frankly, saying that having both an on-road and off-road option will cause confusion is just an excuse for not doing the job properly. The County Council does not seem averse to installing genuinely confusing and stupid infrastructure for new cyclists where it suits them.
    -You state in your letter that the Council involves cycling groups in consultation on schemes. Below are some remarks made by *** the CTC Right to Ride Officer regarding the *** traffic light scheme. '*** really needs to get their consultation process sorted. I only found out about this at the implementation stage via a third party [OrbitRider]... The scheme fails to satisfy *** Council policy on providing for road cycling. It is also yet another example of *** Council failing to consult properly in a timely manner'."

    Council's reply to my reply:
    "- I would like to repeat that where practicable and possible the County Council follows the heirarchy of measures set out in the Cycling Strategy.
    -The Council aims to consult cyclists on all highway schemes that are likely to affect them - particularly dedicated cycle facilities."

    It was at this point I gave up beating my head against a brick wall (helmet on, of course)....
    FCN 7 (4 weekdays)
    FCN 11 (1 weekday)

    There is an old cyclist called Leigh (not me!)
    Who's pedalling's a blur to see
    So fast is his action
    The Lorenz Contraction
    Shortens his bike to a "T"
  • Firstly, OrbitRider, thank you for posting this material as I feel it is a good example of the 'brick wall' mentality and offers insight into the workngs of officialdom.

    A minor criticism: You did use the word stupid. Maybe 'falls significantly short of our minimum expectations' might avoid the dialogue degenerating so quickly,

    I have voiced the opinion in the past tha perhaps we should organise ourselves into a much stronger authority for the purposes of council consultations. I still stand by ths viewpoint whilst acknowledging the good work done by existing cycling groups.

    I notice the word 'we' was only used during he initial response letter. We is personal, their 2nd response was indeed souless. In the face of criticism they are adopting a 'wasn't me' attitude. The council is it's own entity and nothing to do with any particular individual. Perhaps the freedom of information act can help us to identify the human being who actually thought these designs were a good idea.
  • I think what drew me to the thread was the immediate assumption that someone had done something that was in some way incompetent and that there would be, in consequence, someone to blame.

    This is the sort of thinking that disappoints me in our society. I work in the area of alternative transport, providing and promoting facilities to help people reduce their driving. I'm sure that I have been involved with facilities that would be seen by some people as 'not good enough' and in a few cases they may be right.

    However, it is often the case that said facility simply doesn't suit what is best for them although it is best for the majority or just other users. But people don't see that, they see that 'they' haven't been provided for (on this occasion) and frequently respond in aggressive and downright nasty ways.

    I love my job but this sort of dealing with somone can leave me depressed for a long time. I guess that's why I tried to put the other side of the argument.

    Please think before trying to 'identify the human being' via FOI that you will be dealing with someone who has feelings and possibly acted in a way that they at least thought was appropriate and in fact may have been if you look at things from a different perspective to your own.
  • Simple_Salmon, you noted, I hope, my criticism if the word stupid in the above postings. Aggressive and nasty should not be tolerated from any quarter.

    I had a sneaking suspicion from your posts that you had some sort of professional involvement in this issue. I can only repeat that we all applaud anyone who makes an effort to improve road facilities and road safety.

    It is, however, an unfortunate truth that we can find no group for which these a large number of these faciities have been designed. I don't want to fall nto the travel of outright condemnation. There are some good leisure and commuting facilities. My journey to work is made better by three ASL's right where they are needed. There are bad facilities too. I would ask you to suggest a facility that has met with criticism and sugget how it should be recognised as a genuine improvment.

    You also mention he feelings of the human beings making these decisions. Anonymity can often be the armour of the corrupt and incompetent. Transparency, if managed properly, could be a real bonus to the professional lives of these decision makers. Image a scenario where both parties step forward publicly, make decisions in a way that involves consultation, then implement in a timely manner. No rushed 'meet the quota' paths to nowhere. Isn't that job satisfaction knowing that you have contributed to your community? And been recognised for it?

    Cyclists need a better voice, the individuals in the council need access that voice.
  • Eternal_Headwind

    I think we are essentially singing from the same hymn-book. In particular I agree that transparency of decisions is to be encouraged. Unfortunately I have found that if you stick your head above the parapet there is always someone who wants to try to shoot you down - sometimes fair enough but there are ways and means on making your opinions known and unfortunately I have experienced some of the wrong ways.

    From my experience I have found our council cycling officer to be highly competent, aware of the problems, a keen cyclist himself, and enthusiatic about improving facilities. However, you wouldn't know this to look at some of our local cycle paths. I'm not sure why this is the case, some is certainly historic but I don't think we always see the progress that is being made.

    Let me assure you that I agree 100% that there are cycle ways that are a waste of space and money, I just think that sometimes we need to consider the bigger picture.

    Finally let me give you an example of how people behave (away from cycling admittedly); I recently announced a deal I had made with the local bus companies to provide cheaper bus travel for our staff. Rather than receive emails from bus users thanking me I received a number from rail users angry that they hadn't got anything. C'est la vie, I will go to the grave safe in the knowledge that I did my best.

  • Simple Salmon, I feel your pain to a certain extent.

    On the weekend I watched a comedy programme in which a stand up comedian said that only in Brtiain can someone release a best seller called Craptowns, then be forced to release a second bestseller called Craptowns 2 because people wrote in complaining about how the crapness of their town was overlooked.

    My only real desire is to get an effective working partnership. In your secnd paragraph you say "I'm not sure why this is...". By speaking with decision makers we can get around this blank spot.

    Part of the solution is, I feel, strongly linked to our own ability to organise ourselves.
  • EH & SS,

    You've criticised my use of the word "stupid" in my letter and perhaps I shouldn't have done. However, I felt that I could back that up. As I mentioned, I only quoted highlights from the letters. In the case of "confusing and stupid infrastructure", I included 4 photographs of cycle tracks. Two of the photos showed cycle markings just stopping (without "stop" markings) but the path continuing ("confusing"). One of the others showed a segregated pedestrian/cycle track (white line separation) where the cycle side terminated in a garden fence, while the pedestrian side continued. There was no "escape" for a cyclist to another path or road. The second showed a segregated cycle/pedestrian track where the cycle track terminated at a blind corner (with "stop" markings), but again, with no "escape" for a cyclist. These two examples, I felt, could only be described as "stupid" by everyone.

    In my letters, I was not arguing that they shouldn't have put the cycle tracks in. I was trying to point out that the tracks did not meet the guidelines (even their own) and that the mere presence of the tracks made life difficult for other cyclists. A significant number of the tracks that I criticised were not constrained by space, so the only reasons for not doing the job properly were that the designers did not know or understand the guidelines and/or that they were constrained by budget.

    My Council states that they cannot install infrastructure that accommodates all cyclists. They have a "twin network" approach: one for inexperienced / leisure cyclists and one for experienced / utility cyclists. This is fine but, while there is plenty of infrastucture for the former, there is precious little for the latter. The Council does not seem to realise that one network can adversely affect the other: mainly because of the attitude of non-cyclists.
    FCN 7 (4 weekdays)
    FCN 11 (1 weekday)

    There is an old cyclist called Leigh (not me!)
    Who's pedalling's a blur to see
    So fast is his action
    The Lorenz Contraction
    Shortens his bike to a "T"
  • OrbitRider, please do not take the criticism too harshly. I merely observe the balance between honesty and progress.
    I myself caused much merriment over the summer when I delivered a rant that would make Basil Fawlty embarrassed when faced with cycle track built next to and running parallel with a cycle path. Had I delivered the rant to the relevant council official no doubt an electric fence would have gone up around their offices just to keep me out.

    And that is the point. We need to change things, and take responsibility for some of the work needed to change things.

    I think I'll email local cycling groups and see if I can get some real non internet action going. I will let you know how it goes.
  • Hi EH,

    Your criticism was perfectly justified: it was an emotive word and it could have got people's backs up. However, I did feel justified in using it, considering some of the facilites I described - which were certainly candidates for Warrington Cycle Campaign's Facility of the Month awards.
    FCN 7 (4 weekdays)
    FCN 11 (1 weekday)

    There is an old cyclist called Leigh (not me!)
    Who's pedalling's a blur to see
    So fast is his action
    The Lorenz Contraction
    Shortens his bike to a "T"
  • The other thing to consider to consider is that a lot of these cycling facilities, although perceived by councils, local politicians and non cyclists as being safer (see my post about the Conversion of an on road cycle laneto a shared pavement cycle path, in particular the comment by the local councillor), actually aren't necessarily safer as was sadly illustrated in the fatality on the A4 cycle lane in London in November last year.