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27 April, 2006

Lose 'em

Yesterday, Ian rightly mentioned that the inside (i.e. nearest the kerb) two feet of a road is the most likely to hold debris or have pot holes. Cars and larger vehicles push stones, etc. out of the main carriageway, but bicycles don't have the weight or tyre width to do the same.  It's a fundamental flaw of on-road cycle lanes; most debris collects in the area reserved for the very sector of traffic most vulnerable to it.

There's a particularly bad example in Lancaster, where Bowerham Road becomes Barton Road. Heading south, a sweeping descent to the right crosses a road junction. Normally, traffic on the main road travels at speed, but there's always a chance one might have to brake. In the cycle lane, that means doing so on loose gravel. The very idea scares me, so I never use the designated cycle lane, instead sticking to the main carriageway.
The only person to question that was another cyclist, who insisted that all cyclists should use all cycle tracks/lanes at all times – "show some gratitude" and "use it or lose it". Well, so far as I'm concerned, losing it would definiterly be the preferred alternative. The Barton Road cycle lane is only a couple of years old, and was much better when it wasn't designated as such, as passing cars kept all but the gutter clear of stones. I'm not remotely 'grateful' for the segregation.

Despite their inherent design flaw, the rest of Lancaster's on-road cycle lanes actually aren't too bad, if one carefully watches for debris. It's the off-road cycle track that annoy me, as several with perfectly good tarmac have been resurfaced with loose gravel. Last week, the Environment Agency resurfaced one of theirs with crushed glass; the local newspaper reported punctures and vets' bills. There's also an issue of occasional pedestrian hostility (actively inflamed by the same local newspaper), meaning shared-use cycle paths can be unpleasant to use.

All of which explains why I tend not to use dedicated cycling areas, preferring to ride on the road itself.


Over here, there are numerous cycle lanes, all rather nice, new and well-used; for some reason the west of Newcastle gets fewer cars. However, serious injuries should be performed upon those idiots who park in the cycle lane by the allotments and moor. I'd love to ride in the cycle lane on the more dangerous bits of my commute, but people with large dogs and silly cars make it difficult.
This is the same stretch of cp that slopes alarmingly towards the gutters, presumably for drainage purposes - what actually happens is that cyclists ride at a strange canted angle which becomes tiring.

Posted by Calephetos at April 27, 2006 08:16 PM

Why do "you Brits" insist on road descriptions sure to fox the outsider?*

* "mentioned that the inside (i.e. nearest the kerb) two feet of a road"

* Actual driving instruction given to yours truly by a Blackpool rellie: "After XXXX be sure to stay on the 'inside' as you will shortly be going left!" Why aren't you more like us (?) and call it the "slow lane?

Posted by Dick, in Berkeley at June 10, 2006 09:17 PM
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