Personal Blog

Dangerous Cycle Lane on Station Road March Removed (Updated 04/02/2015)

cycle-lane-gone

The dangerous cycle lane has now been removed

I am pleased to announce that Cambridgeshire County Council have removed the dangerous cycle lane on Station Road which was put on the carriageway during the summer of 2014.

Some people may wonder why having a cycle lane would be dangerous for cyclists. In brief, these are the main reasons:

At 1 metre wide, the cycle lane was too narrow to offer any safety.

The government guideline is 2m wide with a 1.5m minimum.

The lane encouraged cyclists to ride too close to the kerb.

The safest place for cyclists to ride is normally about 1m away from the kerb (or further out where the road narrows).

The lane encouraged drivers to overtake too closely, especially when combined with double white centre lines.

Some EU countries have a legal requirement of leaving at least 1.5m when drivers are passing cyclists. This lane reduced overtaking space to almost nothing.

It can anger drivers when cyclists do not use the cycle lane.

Drivers often think that because there is a cycle lane it would be safer for the cyclists to use it so therefore cyclists *should* use it. Drivers may get angry if cyclists don’t use the cycle lane. Many drivers do not understand the safety considerations of cycling and some can be quite aggressive to other road users.

I would like to thank everyone who helped remove this dangerous cycle facility as well as Cambridgeshire County Council for listening to the concerns of the people which these facilities are supposed to help – i.e the cyclists. In future, may I suggest that consultation is made and expert opinion is sought, prior to the implementation of cycle facilities which help no one – Andy Crawford.


Dangerous New Cycle Lane on Station Road March

station-road-1

Every so often, our County Council Highways Authority do something incredibly stupid. One such example is this addition of an Advisory Cycle Lane on Station Road March.

This road can be difficult for cyclists at the best of times. It is a main through route and so traffic can move quite fast. It also has a level crossing with rails at non-perpendicular angles. Traffic will often attempt to overtake cyclists on the crossing itself so the cyclist needs to take up a prominent position before reaching the crossing to deter this from happening.

If you look at the image above, you will see that the road is not really wide enough to accommodate a separate cycle lane. In fact government guidelines for a cycle lanes are 2m width (with a 1.5m MINIMUM width) This one is exactly 1m wide. It is DANGEROUS to pass cyclists in such close proximity.

station-road-2

If that was not bad enough, look what happens (see above) when the traffic reaches the level crossing. The cycle lane ends altogether leaving cyclists and heavier traffic vying for road space in a potentially very hazardous place.

station-road-3

As traffic goes through the level crossing there is simply no space for the cyclist (see above – the white lines denote the pedestrian area).

Cyclists need space when being overtaken by heavier traffic, but by encouraging cyclists to ride close to the kerb encourages close overtaking by drivers. The addition of a painted line further adds to the problem. Any cyclist using this cycle lane will be repeatedly exposed to close and dangerous overtaking from passing traffic. This is not good for safety especially when the cyclist is approaching a level crossing.

What is particularly insidious about this type of cycle lane is that it can also promote road-rage from a minority of drivers, directed toward cyclists, who for their own safety, do not ride within the cycle lane. The road-rage is caused because there are drivers who think that the cyclist “should” be in the cycle lane.

So if a cyclist uses this cycle lane they will be immediately exposed to close and unsafe overtaking. But if the cyclist does not use the cycle lane they may be exposed to road-raging drivers who may try to “punish” the cyclist by passing too close.

Therefore, for cycle safety, this cycle lane should be removed forthwith and any future cycle infrastructure should be carefully thought through and the advise sought from knowledgeable experts with an understanding of safe road cycling, prior to any implementation of cycle facilities.


Letter to Fenland Citizen

I wrote to the Local Paper – Fenland Citizen – about this issue some time ago. The letter was published but it seems that no one took any notice.

From: “Andy Crawford”
To: Sue Irving Fenlandcitizen
Subject: Safer, easier cycling for March? – you must be joking .
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 11:07:09 -0000

Safer, easier cycling for March? – you must be joking.

So more public money is to be spent creating cycle facilities in March (Fenland Citizen 11/12/2013). My opinion is that these facilities are only
likely to have a detrimental effect on road safety overall.

Shared use pedestrian/cycle paths create danger for both the pedestrian and the cyclist. They can only work if there is plenty of space or if the cyclist is prepared to cycle at no more than walking speed. Look at the disastrous facility on March High Street to see a truly awful example of this.

On-road cycle lanes encourage cyclists to ride dangerously close to the kerb. This in turn encourages drivers to pass too close. Any cyclist using the cycle lane outside Neale-Wade Academy will find traffic whizzing past within inches and when the lane abruptly ends at the pedestrian crossing, they will be vying for road space with overtaking traffic. Cyclists not using cycle lanes, can find themselves subject to driver aggression (eg. shouted at, driving too close and horn-blowing).

If we really want to encourage cycling and walking and to make the roads safer for everyone, we need to reduce traffic speeds and reduce driver aggression. Drivers need to be more aware of the danger they pose to others and cyclists need to be better trained in proper road use. The only benefits of the current cycle facilities in March are to drivers who want cyclists off the roads proper, and to politicians who want to “greenwash” us into thinking that they are doing something good for the town.

Andrew Crawford


 

Complaint to Cambridgeshire County Council

From: Andy Crawford
To: feedback AT cambridgeshire.gov.uk
Subject: Complaint – Highways Cycle Lane
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:33:11 +0100

Dear Sir,

COMPLAINT

I write to complain about the new road markings creating an advisory cycle lane on Station Road March either side of the level crossing. The use of this facility presents a very serious danger to cyclists.

The reasons are as follows:

[1] The width of the carriageway DOES NOT allow wider traffic to leave adequate safety clearance when passing cyclists.

[2] The solid white centre lines makes it ILLEGAL for drivers to move across to allow adequate safety clearance when passing cyclists who are in the cycle lane.

[3] The presence of this cycle lane suggests to both drivers and cyclists that cyclists should be close to the kerb. Riding in such a position only serves to encourage very close and dangerous overtaking.

[4] The level crossing itself presents additional safety implications. Cyclists should aim to cross the rails at right angles for stability and safety, which in this case will cause them to move to the right. Since many drivers will try to overtake on the crossing itself, this leaves little room to manoeuvre and removes any margin for error. The presence of the cycle lane either side of the level-crossing and the narrowing of the carriageway through the level crossing worsens an already potentially dangerous situation for cyclists.

My Concern is the that presence of this cycle lane will:

[1] Encourage drivers to pass cyclists too closely.

[2] Encourage drivers to overtake cyclists on the level crossing.

[3] Deter people from cycling.

[4] Increase the likelihood of cycling injuries and death.

The creation of this cycle lane and detriment to cycle safety HAS NOT been fully considered.

A cycle lane 1 metre wide it DOES NOT meet government guidelines of 2m width (minimum 1.5m).

For your reference:

[1] The Highway Code

Rule 163
Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should:
give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car

Rule 213
Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

[2] Highways Agency, Design Manual for Roads and Bridges
A3.2 – With-Flow Cycle Lanes (Advisory/Mandatory)
Construction Issues:
Cycle lanes can be developed by adjusting road markings, or expanding the width of the carriageway into the verge or footway. The desirable width of a one-way cycle lane (mandatory or advisory) is 2.0m, with a minimum being 1.5m

As both an experienced cyclist and a driver, it is my opinion that this cycle facility is to the detriment of cycle safety. The road is simply not wide enough to allow traffic to pass cyclists safely without crossing the centre lines. Where cyclists (for their own safety) ride in a more prominent position away from the kerb, they are likely to be subjected to abuse from drivers insistent on squeezing past.

It is my opinion that this cycle lane should be removed forthwith is detrimental to road safety.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Crawford


Response Cambridgeshire County Council

From: Project Manager 
To: Andy Crawford
Subject: Complaint – Highways Cycle Lane
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:34:31 +0000

Dear Mr Crawford,

Thank you for your comments regarding the advisory cycle lane on the approach to the level crossing. The cycle lane was installed after consultation within the March Market Town Transport Strategy supported the proposal of installing cycle Lanes along Station Road and Elm Road. We took the opportunity to deliver the section either side of the level crossing as we were in the process of delivering the parking restrictions.

As the decision to proceed with this scheme had already gone through the public consultation process we confirmed with the County Councillor and the Town Council that we should proceed.

I can confirm we are monitoring the situation and we have funding to continue the cycle lane along Station Road later in the financial year. If we believe there are issues then obviously we will rectify the situation. To date officers have witnessed cyclists using the lane and motorists keeping it clear which aids cyclists when approaching the level crossing. If the lane were any wider motorists would not be able to navigate around it and therefore would not respect it.

Highway users must be responsible for their own actions and decisions. The line is advisory and people will choose to use it or not, just as motorists will respect it or not. The highway at this location is not wide enough to accommodate a mandatory lane and we believe that having a facility that highlights the presence of cyclists and makes other users consider them, to be an improvement.

Please come back to me if you have anything further,

Regards

Project Manager
Local Projects
Cambridgeshire County Council
03450 455 212


 

Reply to Cambridgeshire County Council

From: Andy Crawford 
To: Project Manager 
CC: feedback AT cambridgeshire.gov.uk
Subject: Re: Complaint – Highways Cycle Lane
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:42:59 +0100

Dear Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx, Project Manager

(CC Feedback – Please escalate this complaint)

Thank you for your response.

In your response you state that:

“The highway at this location is not wide enough to accommodate a mandatory lane and we believe that having a facility that highlights the presence of cyclists and makes other users consider them, to be an improvement.”

*Believing* that having a facility that highlights the presence of cyclists to be an improvement is considerably different to it *actually* making an improvement.

As I have already pointed out, such a facility is to the detriment of cycle safety as the presence of this cycle lane suggests to both drivers and cyclists that cyclists should ride close to the kerb. Riding in such a position only serves to encourage close and dangerous overtaking. I know this from experience (I cycle some 2,000 to 3,000 miles per annum) and this is also expressed clearly in the book ‘Cyclecraft’ the definitive guide to cycling by John Franklin, which is the basis of Bikeability cycle training and is also endorsed by RoSPA. Additionally the presence of double white centre lines worsens the problem.

What causes further problems for cyclists is if they position themselves in a safer position, away from the kerb, this can anger drivers and cause them to pass even closer, as a punishment for NOT riding in the cycle lane.

You have admitted that the highway at this location is not wide enough to accommodate a mandatory cycle lane. Therefore it follows no logic to have an advisory lane of sub-standard width. If it were felt that an advisory lane may be of benefit to road users, the cycle lane should be of adequate width. I am sure you are aware that motor vehicles are ONLY prohibited from using an advisory cycle lane IF it is unavoidable (see Highway Code 140). Therefore it follows that the advisory lane could be doubled in width to 2m without causing any inconvenience to motorists BUT would provide some safety refuge to cyclists.

The current scenario is dangerous due to the sub-standard width of the cycle lane. There is additional danger caused by double while lines in the centre of the road and what makes this particularly hazardous is that it is on the approach to a level crossing, which has non-perpendicular rails (causing cyclists to move to the right when crossing the rails), at this point drivers can only overtake by crossing the double white centre lines which they regularly do.

This installation of this cycle lane was installed with little or no understanding of cycle safety.

The cycle lane should be removed forthwith as it is to the detriment of cycle safety.

You response is therefore unsatisfactory, please escalate this complaint to a higher level.

Thank you and regards

Andrew Crawford