Cycling NEL

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There’s a new public group on Facebook for all interested in cycling in North East Lincolnshire (on the east coast of England, for all those who view this blog from abroad). Please feel free to get involved with it. The whole idea is simply to promote all forms of cycling and a cycling culture in the area.

Geographically it’s a perfect place for cycling, very ‘Dutchesque’, but it seems until there is a visible genuine demand for better facilities and infrastructure things will improve only at a snails pace, as those involved in advancing the cycling agenda on the local council feed on the crumbs that fall from the motor traffic table, so to speak.

As we see cycling taking a more prominent place in the nations transport agenda with the planned Crossrail for Cycling in London and various campaigns, notably Space4cycling, Stop Killing Cyclists, 20splenty, etc, it’s clearly time for cycling to have more of an impact locally here in NE Lincs.

Upcoming events in NE Lincolnshire

Get your free lights, free hi-viz and free bike check at one of these upcoming events around the area.

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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.

Poor infrastructure leads to accidents

It’s simple: poor infrastructure leads to accidents. The pathway along Ploggers, between Love Lane Corner and Humberstone Rd in Grimsby is simply not wide enough. It’s supposedly a shared path between cyclists and pedestrians, but when it’s full of parents walking their children to school in the morning, there’s nothing else a cyclist can do but to ride on the grass.

Of course, council vehicles also drive along here to empty the waste bins and they leave ruts in the soft ground. As the weather warms, the grass grows and the ground hardens and these ruts become concealed and become a serious hazard to cyclists, as proved the case this morning:

The bike where it was brought down causing the fall onto the pathway along the Ploggers near Old Clee School and King Georges sports stadium.

The bike where it was brought down causing the fall onto the pathway along the Ploggers near Old Clee School and the King George sports facility.

In passing a group of people walking along this path this morning, my wife had to ride on the grass, but her wheel got caught in one of these ruts and this brought her crashing down, hitting the concrete pathway. She could easily have broken her arm in the fall. As it was, she suffered painful cuts and bruises.

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There's ample room for the necessary improvements to be made here.

There’s ample room for the necessary improvements to be made here.

I’ve written before about this pathway. There is ample space to put a separate cycle lane alongside the path, so that cyclists can actually have their own space. Having just been to the Netherlands and seen how much cyclists are cared for there, it’s disgusting to see how little provision there is made here. There’s simply no excuse for not giving space for cycling. It’s time the local authorities woke up to their appallingly neglectful attitude in this regard!

This is an example of what is needed along the Ploggers - it's not rocket science! (This stretch of pathway links Beverley Crescent with Weelsby Rd.)

This is an example of what is needed along the Ploggers – it’s not rocket science! (This stretch of pathway links Beverley Crescent with Weelsby Rd.)

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?

 

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