Freewheeler recently pointed out to me that the London Cycling Campaign had used some of my photos in this video. They asked before-hand and were polite enough to include credit. This makes a difference. Also, it's a very good thing that they are publicizing the danger due to this dreadful infrastructure.
The video shows what is a remarkably common situation in the UK - of cyclists having a choice of riding along a horrifically busy road or of taking to a narrow, badly designed cycle path with crossings of the same road. Sometimes the speed limits on such roads are 70 mph (112 km/h) and they are not well enforced. Indeed, the new government in the UK says it is ending the "war on the motorist" - something which never actually existed, of course.
There are very similar situations all over the UK. This one is near where we used to live in Cambridge. While I lived there I tried both riding on the road, and on the shared use path. Neither could be described as pleasant experiences:
This example is on the A3, a dual carriageway road which in most countries would be classified as a motorway. However, cycling is legal on this road, and indeed it gives the most direct route, so some cyclists use it. Note the cycle symbol in the remarkably narrow on road cycle lane on the left hand side of the road:
But what happens when you get to that upcoming junction on a bridge ? Well, you have a choice. Either have nerves of steel and carry on in a straight line, or join the slip-road exiting the dual carriageway as suggested by the cycle lane marking:
There is then some help for cyclists who want to go straight ahead. Part way along the exit ramp, cyclists can pull into a waiting area on the left before crossing the slip road, and re-joining the main road. Very small signs warn drivers that they may find cyclists doing this:
The Wikipedia article about this road puts it as follows: "Between Thursley and Milford (near Guildford), cycle crossings of the slip roads have been constructed on both sides of the carriageway for the few cyclists travelling on this dual carriageway." It is of course no surprise that "few cyclists" would use such a route ? It's hardly a glowing example of subjective safety.
Thursley and Milford are just four miles (six kilometres) apart. However, the direct route means taking a trip along this road. Who but the most dedicated cyclist is going to do that ? It may as well be a thousand miles, and indeed people often believe as a result that the distance is "too far to cycle". Such infrastructure is extremely effective at preventing cycling.
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The less positive stuff What not to do if you want a cycling "revolution" - Long list of interventions and policies which are not helpful. Copy the best examples from the Netherlands - a short list summarising the above. Important to copy the best examples, not just anything "Dutch". Bear in mind that the Netherlands is not perfect. Shared Space - this much hyped idea simply does not work well. It disenfranchises the vulnerable and claims of safety are exaggerated. Don't confuse the concept with far more successful nearly car free streets. Shared Use Paths designed to be used by pedestrians and cyclists together. These rarely work well because the two user groups are too different and it leads to conflicts. They are not built in the Netherlands (but cycle access to pedestrianized zones is good). Strict (or presumed) liability - If you think this is an important part of why people cycle in the Netherlands then it is probably not what you think it is. Helmets - one of several ways of scaremongering about the supposed dangers of what is actually a very safe means of transport
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A cyclist in a cycling family living in the capital of the cycling province of the world's greatest cycling country.
I was born in the UK, lived for over 8 years in New Zealand and have lived in the Netherlands since 2007.
I organise cycling infrastructure study tours, run an online bicycle shop, arrange cycling holidays and write a popular blog about cycling.
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