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March Town Cycle Facilities – Usability And Practicality

Take a look at the cycle facilities in March town and see how good they are from a cyclists point of view.

The Avenue

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The off road shared footpath/cyclepath which runs alongside The Avenue is OK, so long as you don’t mind riding at a leisurely pace (i.e less than 10 MPH). At busy times it becomes unusable due to the volume of pedestrians. The problem (as with most pedestrian/cyclist facilities) is the hazards, as you run the risk of cars or people emerging at any place along it at any time which is why it should be ridden s-l-o-w-l-e-y. Using the road is safer if riding faster, but this path does offer some refuge for the timid cyclist.

Cyclist Rating 5/10 – OK for slow moving cyclists

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists off the roads


Princess Avenue – The Avenue

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As you reach the junction of Princess Avenue it gets more complicated as the cyclist needs to give way to; traffic coming up behind and turning left, traffic coming from ahead and turning right, and traffic from the left. This is complicated to do while riding so walking pace or dismounting is required. At this junction using the road is probably safer but it joins the two off road shared paths.

Cyclist Rating 1/10 – Complicated to use, better priority is needed 

Driver Rating 5/10 – Cyclists should give way, not all of them do.


High Street

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This area just gets sillier and sillier. There is a pillar box at the end of path, (the path starts again a few metres further on, behind the camera). What looks like a parking space has double white lines and zig-zags for the light controlled crossing so it can’t be used for parking. But people do park there, and they park on the cycle path forcing cyclists to use the foot path.

Cyclist Rating 1/10 – Unusable a lot of the time

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists off the roads


High Street

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As with most shared pedestrian/cyclist facilities, there is a tendency for pedestrians to wander over the cycling side so caution is needed if cycling along here. Also, due to parked cars and the cycle path being in the ‘door zone’, the cyclist must be aware that a car door may be thrown into their path at any time. Therefore walking pace (a maximum of 5 MPH) is required to use this facility safely. Or use the road, it is definitely safer if riding any faster.

Cyclist Rating 3/10 – OK for very slow moving cyclists

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists off the roads


Chapel Street to City Road

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When I rode along here and ended up at this junction I could not work out what I was supposed to do. The path just comes to a halt at a kerb next to the crossing. What I did was to go on to the road (to the right of the photo) and cross over into City Road on the normal way as if I were driving. However, having studied the above image, it seems that what the cyclist is supposed to do is to use the crossing to cross the road and continue along the shared use pavement outside the police station. Such a facility might be safer for children or people unable to cross the road but that’s all.

Cyclist Rating 1/10 – Safer for children or cyclists unable to cross roads

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists off the roads


West End Park

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West End Park is an ideal cut through from City Road to West End and many cyclists use it. Since the path has been re-surfaced, widened and marked, many pedestrians observe the cyclists side. Care is still needed and it should be ridden slowly, especially if there are people around. Also watch out for dogs running free or on long leashes. At the end of the path it ends with a ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign before crossing the footbridge over the Nene. There is no reason to ‘dismount’, just ride over slowly and carefully. However some people think it is acceptable to stand at the bridge pointing at the sign and hurling abuse at cyclists who do not dismount. The ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign is not a command, it is advisory. If cycling was not permitted, there would be a ‘NO CYCLING’ sign instead. The ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign causes anger all round.

Cyclist Rating 5/10 – Good cut through if riding slowly

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists off the roads in town


Market Square – High Street

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This junction is a black spot for accidents caused by traffic emerging from Market Square. Any cyclists riding in the area implied by the double zig-zags will be putting themselves at risk as they may not be seen by the drivers of emerging vehicles as well as be overtaken closely. Cyclists also need to be further away from the front bumpers of emerging vehicles. All cyclists would be better taking up a prominent road position and riding through the yellow box as this makes the cyclist more visible to emerging traffic and this also reduces the chances of being overtaken in a poor manner.

Cyclist Rating 0/10 – Dangerous, do not use

Driver Rating 7/10 – Allows us to pass cyclists regardless of safety


Gaul Road – High Street Roundabout By Pass

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At first sight this makes a neat little by-pass for the roundabout if going straight ahead and saves having to give way to the right, but it doesn’t. (See below)

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When the cyclist exits the dedicated cycle lane, they need to merge with the traffic exiting the roundabout (from the right). Much of the exiting traffic will cross into the marked advisory cycle lane, and even if they didn’t, they would still be too close for safety. Cyclists also need to watch out for aggressive drivers who will not give way or respect the advisory cycle lane.

Cyclist Rating 2/10 – By pass the roundabout but dangerous to exit the lane

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists out of our way


Wimbington Road – Outside Neale-Wade Academy

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For your own safety, please do not ride in this lane. If you do, you may have traffic turning in front of you (both from behind and from ahead) as they enter Neale-Wade well as traffic overtaking  too closely. Traffic exiting Neale-Wade will routinely use the solid line of the cycle lane as a give way line and ignore any cyclist in the lane, combine that with closely overtaking traffic and you have a potentially hazardous situation. This lane should be removed on safety grounds.

Cyclist Rating 0/10 – Should be removed

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists out of our way


Wimbington Road – Pedestrian Crossing

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Using this lane will encourage drivers to pass too closely. As you reach the crossing the lane suddenly ends. Why? presumably because there is not enough space to allow a cycle lane and a standard traffic lane though the crossing. This begs the question if there is not enough space through the crossing, why is it there before the crossing? If you ride just outside the lane, some drivers will pass you anyway almost hitting you. The only safe way to pass though this crossing is to ride in the centre of the main traffic lane blocking all unsafe overtaking. Doing this may cause road rage from drivers. Advice – use another route if you can.

Cyclist Rating 0/10 – Should be removed

Driver Rating 10/10 – Keeps cyclists out of our way


Wimbington Road – Barkers Lane Bus Stop

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If anyone has a clue why it is there I would be please to know. It takes cyclists from the footpath, into the bus stop lay by, and onto the road. I can only figure that it is for cyclists who have just go off the bus and want to join the traffic flow.

Cyclist Rating 0/10 – ???

Driver Rating 0/10 – ???


Summary

Cycle facilities rarely enhance cycle safety. They appear to be designed by people who have no idea how to cycle safely and at worse they are dangerous to use. Mile for mile, cycle lanes and paths are more dangerous to use than the roads, so using the roads is often a safer option. Possibly the worst thing about cycle facilities is that they can cause driver aggression or road-raging, when cyclists, for their own safety and their convenience do not use them.

Cyclists Do Not Pay Road Tax So Why Should They Have Facilities?

No one pays ‘Road Tax’. Vehicle Excise Duty (or ‘Road Tax’) is a pollution tax based on how much a vehicle pollutes. Roads are paid for from general taxation. We all pay for the roads and we all have the right to use them.

The biggest benefactor of cycle facilities are drivers with poor driving standards as they keep cyclists out of their way. Good drivers do not need cyclists using cycle facilities.

Cyclists Should Be Forced To Use Cycle Lanes Where They Exist.

The problem is that they are in many cases both inconvenient and dangerous to use.

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