Have you noticed the amount of cycling paths and lanes that are appearing all other the place? Wel they are popping up everywhere in an effort my the government and local authorities to get use to get out and use a bike more often and leave the car at home. Even in Sudbury on a new housing estate there have been special lanes made for cyclists, which is great, I love the fact that us cyclists are finally being thought of. Yet do I use any of these services provided? Nope! Now I can already hear the cries from the motorists out there but let me explain this first. The reason I do not use these special features made especially for me the cyclist is that they are not suitable for me the cyclist, or in worse cases they are simply un-usable. Yet now the government want to pass a revision to the Highway Code that willensureforce all cyclists to use a cycle lane where provided:
The new Highway Code requries cyclsits to use cycle facilities ‘wherever possible’. Many facilities are of poor standard, or just plain dangerous. cyclists should not be forced to use such facilities against their better judgment.
It just makes life that little bit more dangerous for the average cyclist and makes you feel like you are being forced off the road. This would be fine if the cycle lanes were available Now lets take another look at that lovely new development in Sudbury with it’s purpose built cycle lanes. Everything looks great, nice walk way for the pedestrians, then a great coloured lane for the cyclist; even a break from the road, this could be nirvana. Well wait let’s see how the local residents deal with these wonderful facilities, here is how! So Mr. Ford has decided that because the council put in this wonderful bright bit of road it serves well as an parking space? Now let us look at the options I have in this current position; do I use the road, the path or just hit the car? If I use the path then I’m sure some pedestrian will yell at me claiming I should not be there. So the road is the option, but if under these new rules I am knocked off by a passing car I am at fault! I would be liable just because some one could not understand the purpose of a cycle lane and wanted to park their car just those few metres closer to the front door. There is another cycle lane around this area, the Hadleigh By-Pass. This road is a fairly busy A road which carries traffic from Sudbury to Ipswich, where this passes Hadleigh some one decided a cycle lane was in order. So they put one in, but in an effort to make it stand out they painted the lane green. Not only did the local authority just paint the road they put some more surface down; I can only describe this surface as a mixture of porridge and a heavy mix concrete. This is totally unsuitable for using a road bike on, in fact when I did try this path I ended up having to use the road from sore wrists and contact points. Now last on the list of local cycling features are the clever little blocks of pavement at the beginning of the traffic lights, these different coloured sections of the road with the giant image of a bike on it. How does Joe Motorist react to these? Well he sits in the cycle lane at the front, gaining an extra metre on his journey but parking ontop of the cyclists reserved space. So far I have only covered cycling facilities around the Sudbury area and yet I think I can see a pattern developing. If you add into this all the other completely useless scheme’s around the UK and you get to understand why this revision is not dependant on the cyclist, it is also dependant on the facilities available to cyclists. They need to find a way to provide facilities that actually work and are of suitable quality and use, but then actually enforce these facilities for the cyclist. There is a current petition being carried out ask for the Prime Minister to listen to reason and not pass this revision to the Highway Code. If you care about your cycling and want to carry on cycling on the British roads I urge you to sign up and show support.