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.

Real bicycle culture

Amsterdam: It’s billed as the cycling city of the best cycling nation in the world and it’s not hard to see why. There is simply a culture of cycling which is quite wonderful. It’s just a natural thing there for people to use a bike to get around.

A major part of this is the provision made for cycling – there are cycle streets, cycle paths – people are catered for on bikes. It’s part of the culture because it has been accommodated – there is space for cycling, so it becomes a pleasant way to get around. More people get moderate daily exercise just from cycling to and from places resulting in a healthier population and better air quality as there’s less pollution from cars.

Why can’t we aim to develop a similar culture by building and incorporating such infrastructure here in NE Lincs?

Click to enlarge the photos:

The bike parking near the central rail station.

The bike parking near the central rail station.

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A cycle road, separate to the walkway and the road for vehicles.

A cycle road, separate to the walkway and the road for vehicles.

 

In the queue of cyclists waiting for the change of lights on the cycleway in the busy centre of the city.

In the queue of cyclists waiting for the change of lights on the cycleway in the busy centre of the city.

A father with his children in their cargo bike. It's perfectly safe to travel this way because there is safe cycling infrastructure all over the city.

A father with his children in their cargo bike. It’s perfectly safe to travel this way because there is safe cycling infrastructure all over the city.

Another cargo bike.

Another cargo bike.

This is a minor quiet one-way road where cars are guests and are expected to give priority to cyclists.

This is a minor quiet one-way road where cars are guests and are expected to give priority to cyclists.

Steps in and out of a rail station with provision for wheeling a bike at the side. It's little things like these that add to the bicycling culture. Nice to see the bike being wheeled here is a Brompton! :)

Steps in and out of a rail station with provision for wheeling a bike at the side. It’s little things like these that add to the bicycling culture. Nice to see the bike being wheeled here is a Brompton! 🙂

Bikes everywhere!

Bikes everywhere!

You can ride right through the Rijksmuseum (State Museum), recently reopened with a cycleway through the middle of it!

You can ride right through the Rijksmuseum (State Museum), recently reopened with a cycleway through the middle of it!

And to finish with a nod to Cycle Chic, the ubiquitous 'girl on a bike'!

And to finish with a nod to Cycle Chic, the ubiquitous ‘girl on a bike’!

 

Dutch cycling city nominees 2014: Eindhoven and Almere

These are the final two videos in a series of articles on Bicycle Dutch, looking at this years contenders for Cycling City 2014.

 

You can read the full articles here and here.

 

Dutch cycling city nominees 2014: Enschede

This is the third in a series of articles on Bicycle Dutch, looking at this years contenders for Cycling City 2014, and featuring Enschede, in the east of the country.

You can read the full article here.

Dutch cycling city nominees 2014: Velsen

This is the second in a series of articles on Bicycle Dutch, looking at this years contenders for Cycling City 2014, and featuring Velsen, near the port of Ijmuiden.

You can read the full article here.

 

Dutch cycling city nominees 2014: Zwolle

This is the first of a series of articles on the excellent Bicycle Dutch blog, looking at the contenders for Dutch Cycling City 2014. The first in the series is Zwolle, a city approximately 60 miles north-east of Amsterdam.

You can read the full article here.

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