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.

Jon Snow presents Space For Cycling

Jon Snow, the news presenter and CTC president, in an excellent short video focusing on the space needed to accomodate everyday cycling.

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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