2nd class citizens on 3rd world cycling infrastructure

Why is it cyclists are still 2nd class citizens on 3rd world cycling infrastructure? It’s simply not good enough that there’s no space for cycling on virtually all the roads in NE Lincolnshire. Today I was cycling in the (very thin) painted-on lane at Fryston Corner, approaching the college on Weelsby Rd, when a guy in a silver Mondeo, registration H7 G – –  (I don’t recall the full regn) almost knocked me off my bike. This was in full daylight, around lunchtime, & I was in the cycle lane. It was such a close shave I knocked on his window at the traffic lights to tell him he nearly knocked me off and to leave space for cyclists. All I got in return was a V-sign, a tirade of expletives and  “you don’t pay road tax”!

Actually Mr foul-mouthed Mondeo, I do pay road tax but that’s not the point. There’s space for people walking – it’s called a pavement. They don’t pay road tax but they have a space to be in. People riding a bike do not have a space to be in. We have to share the road with vehicles that, driven by ignorant or careless drivers, pose a genuine threat to our safety and even our lives.

The painted on lanes that the council have provided for people riding bikes are simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH! It’s not good enough to expect drivers to respect cyclists because as anyone who has cycled on our roads will tell you, they don’t! When you’re driving your car you’re insulated from the outside world and oblivious to the danger cyclists face. Putting up signs asking drivers to respect cycle lanes, as NE Lincs council has done recently, is frankly laughable. I understand it’s an attempt to improve things for cyclists by a transport department of the council with no budget to do a proper job, but it is completely futile. I doubt if most drivers have even seen these signs along Clee Rd and Weelsby Rd.

A sign asking drivers to respect the cycle lanes.

A sign asking drivers to respect the cycle lanes. Obviously, it’s not having the desired effect!

I doubt many if any drivers have even seen these signs. Signage is not the answer - good design is.

I doubt many if any drivers have even seen these wholly ineffectual signs. Signage is not the answer – good design is. There’s plenty of space here to create a segregated cycle lane that provides a safe cycle space.

The answer is proper action by the council to allocate funds to create separated cycle lanes, so that there is a safe space for cycling. Nothing else will do. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take decades to do. Look at what has been achieved in New York over the last 5 years with good design and a proactive approach. Why is NE Lincs council so blind to the safety of cyclists on it’s roads? That’s a question I’d really like an answer to!

Take a look at this solution from New York….

Not bad.

Not bad. Photo from Business Insider

or this from Bogota….

Photo from citiesforpeople.net

Not bad at all! Photo from citiesforpeople.net

and this example of cycling infrastructure in The Netherlands: (the best!)

The serious need for separated cycle space

Photos from Grimsby Telegraph

Photos from Grimsby Telegraph

There have been two tragic fatalities in Grimsby in the space of a few of days, both related to cycling. A 72 year old pensioner was knocked down by an 18 year old man cycling in a pedestrianised area of top town on May 20th and, although she was believed to have only suffered minor injuries, she died just 17 days later after spending 11 days in hospital.

The second incident happened this morning at around 4:30am near or at the junction of Freeman St and Wellington Rd. A cyclist in his 20’s was hit by a truck and died shortly afterwards. You can read the Grimsby Telegraph reports here and here. Our condolences and sympathy go to both families.

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Now, I do not condone people cycling where they shouldn’t, on pavements or in pedestrianised areas. However, whatever the rights and wrongs of either of these situations, there are serious points that need to be made and that need to be heeded and learned from.

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There’s no accounting for someone flaunting the law, whether that be a pedestrian, a cyclist or a driver. However, our town suffers from very poor provision of space for cycling which often results in people cycling technically illegally. In pedestrianised areas why can’t there be separate cycling lanes, so that people walking and cycling are both provided for? There’s plenty of room, and most cyclists would respect the different spaces and stay on the cycling lanes.

Cycling on pavements: someone I know, a middle-aged lady who was riding her bike back from the hospital two weeks ago, was verbally abused by a man walking along Scartho Rd because she was cycling on the pavement. Now, bear in mind there were 4 lanes of busy traffic and absolutely no provision of space for someone to cycle. It was a very busy road and this person chose to ride on the pavement in order to not be knocked off her bike by a car. As I say, this man took great offence at this, verbally abused her and physically blocked the way. Although she tried to explain she was only on the pavement because it was not safe on the road due to the heavy traffic, he continued being abusive. Unsurprisingly the lady was very upset by this, and the situation was only resolved by the mans’ embarrassed wife pulling him out of the way.

This question of cycling on pavements is compounded by the fact that the Council permit cycling and walking on some pavements but not on others. In my opinion, this is a fudge, good for neither walkers nor cyclists, and should not be presented as a solution. There needs to be separate space for people walking AND for people cycling.

Only by separating the spaces on our roads, and providing a space for cycling, can these issues be resolved. Just look at most roads – there’s space for cars and trucks, there’s a pavement for pedestrians, but cyclists might get a painted line at the side if they’re lucky! Even then, many motorists ignore it and drive without due care and attention of cyclists. These are facts that I witness almost everyday.

People say cyclists ignore traffic lights on red and cause their own danger. Maybe some do. But again, almost everyday I see cars going through lights on red. Virtually everyday I see drivers ignoring cyclists and creating dangerous and hazardous conditions for cycling. So please don’t blame it all on cyclists.

The responsibility for accidents and injuries clearly needs to be judged on each and every situation, but danger and hazard can be designed off our roads with proper provision of space for cycling and good design. It’s NOT rocket science! To find out how to do it just copy the solutions the Dutch have developed over many years. I’ve written about many of them on this site, but follow the links to other websites which provide a very detailed and comprehensive study of Dutch design and examples.

Off-road cycleways: the good, the bad and the ugly!

It’s fair to say we don’t have much by way of off-road cycleways in NE Lincolnshire! And what we do have are largely left-over walkways that have been redesignated ‘shared-use’ for both walking and cycling. This means if you want to cycle there are often pedestrians in the way, and if you’re walking there’s often pesky cyclists trying to get past! In other words, not good for either user-group!

Add in to the mix the surface of these shared cycling/walking ways is usually atrocious and you have a fairly unsatisfactory state of affairs. It’s clear from these just how little the local council values cycling. Yet it’s the one mode of transport that could revolutionise the area.

However, it’s not all a slough of despond! There are elements that are actually quite good, and these demonstrate the awareness of what to do and how to do it is there, if only this awareness could meet with some joined-up thinking and a dose of serious political will!

Firstly, then, the good:

The separated pathway and cycleway that takes you from Moss Road (off Doughty Rd) under Peakes Parkway, past B&Q, and exits onto Catherine St.

The separated pathway and cycleway that takes you from Moss Road (off Doughty Rd) under Peaks Parkway, past B&Q, and exits onto Catherine St.

This is a really well designed piece of infrastructure: it separates walkers from cyclers, the surface is smooth and it's lit. The problem is it doesn't connect with a road that's prioritised for cycling (Catherine St), and it's not connected to a cycling network.

This is a really well designed piece of infrastructure: it separates walkers from cyclers, the surface is smooth and it’s lit. The problem is it doesn’t connect with a road that’s prioritised for cycling (Catherine St), and it’s not connected to a cycling network.

Another good one - the cycleway through Ainslie St park, connecting Wintringham Rd with Doughty Rd.

Another good one – the cycleway through Ainslie St park, connecting Wintringham Rd with Doughty Rd.

The cycleway between the Asda store and Victoria St. Another example of the council knows how to do it when it wants to!

The cycleway between the Asda store and Victoria St. Another example showing the council knows how to do it when it wants to!

 

Another good example - the link-way between Beverley Cres and Weelsby Rd.

Another good example – the link-way between Beverley Cres and Weelsby Rd.

Then there’s the bad:

You don't have to go far to find these things - anti-cycling devices (ACD's)!

You don’t have to go far to find these things – anti-cycling devices (ACD’s)! This one is on ‘The Lane’ between Ploggers and Ladysmith Rd.

They're planted by the Anti-Cycling Brigade (ACB) and they spring up everywhere people try to cycle away from cars! This one is where a separated cycle/pathway meets Littlefield Lane.

They’re planted by the Anti-Cycling Brigade (ACB) and they spring up everywhere people try to cycle away from cars! This one is where a separated cycle/pathway meets Littlefield Lane.

They are not only a hazard for cycling, but for everyone, especially people in wheelchairs.

They are not only a hazard for cycling, but for everyone, especially people in wheelchairs.

 

And lastly, there’s the ugly:

The cycleways that do exist are in many cases badly maintained with broken surfaces, litter and broken glass. It would not take much to ensure they are maintained to a good standard of surface and that they are regularly road-swept. Perhaps it’s the anti-cycling barriers that prevent the mini road sweepers getting in there to tidy up!!

This is supposed to be cyclable! It's an appalling surface -the cycle/walk way between Littlefield Lane and Westward Ho.

This is supposed to be cyclable! It’s an appalling surface -the cycle/walk way between Littlefield Lane and Westward Ho.

 

Fine design here (if you discount the barriers out of shot), but fullof glass and litter. Would you want to use this underpass on Patrick St?

Fine design here (if you discount the barriers out of shot), but it’s littered with glass and rubbish. Would you want to use this underpass on Patrick St?

The cutting between Garden St and the train station car park. Dark, dirty, full of glass! Not exactly inviting!

The cutting between Garden St and the train station car park. Dark, dirty, full of glass! Not exactly inviting!

Not the worst by far, but nontheless badly maintained (not maintained at all, it seems) link between Patrick St and Park Drive.

Not the worst by far, but nontheless badly maintained (not maintained at all, it seems) link between Patrick St and Park Drive.

The message of many of these examples is that, although there has been an effort made (even a good one in parts), overall the local authority does not value you as a cyclist and does not care if your cycling experience is a bad one!

However, if the good parts could be joined up with roads that actually prioritise cycling over motoring and actually go where people want to go; if the anti-cycling barriers could be removed and if the surfaces could be maintained properly so they’re pleasant to use, we actually could have something very good on our hands here! Please, NELC?

 

Bargate

Cycling along Bargate, an arterial route into and out of Grimsby centre, is truly to take your life in your hands. There is simply not enough room to squeeze four lanes (and at one stage five lanes) of traffic into this road. The route heading out of town becomes two very tight lanes of traffic between Welholme Rd and Nuns Corner. In the other direction, there is a bus lane for a short distance.

Reclaim the inside lane for space for cycling. At present there is nowhere for cyclists to go. Is this really acceptable?

Reclaim the inside lane for space for cycling. At present there is nowhere for cyclists to go. Is this really acceptable?

This is the same road linking the University Centre of Grimsby College with the town centre, and is frequently filled with students. Yet amazingly there is almost no provision for people wanting to use a bike along this road.

Instead of cramming Bargate with four lanes of traffic, why not make it three lanes and a space for cycling? Reduce the outbound direction to one lane for traffic and convert the other lane into a separated cycle lane, from just before Welhome Road (where it becomes two lanes) through to Nuns Corner. This would create a safe space for people to cycle towards the college.

Begin the separated cycle lane here, just before Welhome Road junction (outbound from town centre)

Begin the separated cycle lane here, just before Welholme Road junction (outbound from town centre)

By also providing a cycle path from Chantry Lane through St James Square to Wellowgate and on to Brighowgate, this would then create a usable through-route for people commuting to & from the industrial areas of Pyewipe and the Humber Bank factories through the town centre and on to the residential areas beyond Bargate.

The sign says "In the interests of safety, cyclists please dismount." What is so unsafe in having a cycle lane on one side of this underpass and through St James Square?

The sign says “In the interests of safety, cyclists please dismount.” What is so unsafe in having a cycle lane on one side of this underpass and through St James Square beyond it?

Riding into town from the college cyclists have the Bus & Bike lane as far as the junction with Westward Ho. What happens when a bus wants to pass a cyclist or group of cyclists? At least it’s meant to be a car-free space. From Westward Ho junction onwards there is no Bus & Bike lane, so create a separated cycle lane by taking space from the two lanes of traffic up to Welholme Road junction, and extend it from there on up to the junction with Dudley St.

At present there is no provision along this stretch for cyclists. The road space does squeeze up as it passes Westlands Ave and onwards, but that is no reason not to provide a space for cycling. The present arrangement of squeezed lanes on Bargate between Welholme Rod and Nuns Corner sets the precedent for ‘thin’ lanes, so there’s no excuse for not having a ‘thin’ lane in each direction between the Westlands Ave junction and the junction with Dudley St/Cartergate/Deansgate/Grosvenor St, so that space for cycling can be accommodated. This stretch of thin-laned road could also incorporate a 20mph maximum speed limit to increase safety.

These changes would make cycling along Bargate safer and would therefore encourage people to use their bikes more to come into town and to commute through it. The changes would not cost a vast amount and could be implemented quickly. They would also show the council are serious about prioritising cycling in North east Lincolnshire.

 

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