Sunday, 20 February 2011

Are cycle lanes a danger to us all?

Cycling numbers are always increasing it seems along with ways to accommodate them, which is why today I am putting cycle lanes in the spotlight. The cycle lane, which is meant to be a safe place for a cyclist to ride on, many cyclists though see it in the opposite way

All cyclists have different experience levels and so on, but some new cyclists may be wary to cycle anywhere other than where they think they are meant to be, which is in a cycle lane, the case for the more experienced cyclist is that many cycle lanes pose a hazard and so sometimes they tend not to use them in fear that they could put themselves into arguments and into other conflicts with motorists, who most of the time I imagine believe that if there is a cycle lane available, most cyclists should be in that cycle lane

So why is such a good idea, the cycle lane, actually the source of some safety concerns, and sometimes even a lane that could lead to an injury? Lets have a look at placement of cycle lanes

Some common design faults are that lanes are too long for a cyclists intended journey, often taking less direct routes and adding journey time, cycle lanes sometimes conflict with pedestrian paths, some cycle lanes have sharp turns or bends which forces cyclists to continuously slow down and adjust position. Many lanes are kind of obstructed in a way due to the surfaces which can include broken, bumpy or slippery paint when wet.

More faults with cycle lanes include lanes with varying widths, some just about as wide as a bicycle, some lanes do not contain enough sign posts or they are poorly designed such as signs at junctions, signs sending cyclists in the wrong direction, and signs which cause us cyclists plain confusion and another fault that has to be mentioned is those cycle lanes on some roads that appear to end when the road begins to narrow

With the placement and faults of cycle lanes out of the way I should now mention maintenance on our cycle lanes, or should I mention the lack of it, it can be a serious issue. Cycle lanes which are usually positioned next to the kerb, cycle lanes are usually a place for the collection of loose gravel, uneven drain covers, glass, and worst of all? Potholes, All of the above listed are found in cycle lanes quite regularly, all of which pose a risk to cyclists

The design of some cycle lanes means some cyclists will just refuse to use them most of the time, it appears cycle facilities are not designed with the knowledge that cyclists can travel at fast speeds on roads, Many cycling accidents occur at junctions, and it is believed by many of us cyclists that the poor design of cycle lanes is most the obvious at junctions. Cycle lanes at junctions usually move the cyclist into some positions where the risk of other road users not seeing them or not expecting them to be where they are quite high. Until the number of cyclists increases, some motorists rarely expect to see a cyclist, and those motorists are sometimes just more occupied with other motorists around junctions

Cycle lanes  it seems also encourage some cyclists to ride on the inside of traffic, which is a dangerous place to be when you are a cyclist. With cycle lanes some cyclists will think there is a legal obligation that they should be in the cycle lane, well in fact there is no legal obligation for a cyclist to be in a cycle lane, Us cyclists are entitled to use any part of the road that we want to but cyclists who choose to travel outside cycle lanes sometimes come into the wrath of the angry motorist which could be anything ranging from verbal abuse and aggressive to intimidating driving towards you

So to finish off, the unfortunate truth of the cycle lane is that riding on the road, within traffic, outside of the cycle lane seems to be a safer option most of the time, us cyclists would love nothing more than safe and well designed cycle lanes dedicated to us, is it not about time that town and highway planners consult more with all road users. Cycling numbers are increasing so it is now time that cycle lane management has got to be addressed

As always, I would love to see comments and thoughts on this blog post

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