Monday, 20 February 2012

Small steps

Where I live, the provision for cyclists is a bit patchy.

But let me say loud and clear that it is a lot better than it was when I moved here just under twelve years ago, and it is a lot better than most other towns and cities in the United Kingdom (!)
By the way, I live in an officially designated "Cycle Demonstration Town", for what it's worth :-)

Taking, as an example, the route from our house to the town centre (most of which I travel almost every day by bike), there are four major road crossings:

  • the first has several alternative crossing routes, all with a central predestrian island so one only has to cross one lane of traffic at a time, One can cross close to a corner, or on a straight bit (easier!!), depending on one's choice.
  • the second has a lovely "shared use" bike/pedestrian crossing, with attached traffic light sets (a "Puffin" crossing, or something like that - there are so many variants, hardly anyone knows the exact names any more!)
  • the third is the most difficult of the four crossings. It has a central pedestrian island, but is situated close to a corner. This means there is traffic approaching one side of the crossing from two directions (one of them practically behind the person wishing to cross), and some of the vehicles going towards the town centre don't bother to indicate until they have already started the turn!
  • The cycle route between the second and third main crossings, showing the numerous side turnings crossing the route. The cycle route is marked in red, and the crossings are marked in blue. Not the best cycle route design, perhaps, but reflecting an "upgrade" to an existing pavement and road layout. ALL the side turnings have priority over the cycle route
    The difficult "third" crossing - the route of the cycle path is shown in red, and both of the vehicles marked in blue are about to cross the cycle route, and have priority over it. Note the two vehicles are coming from opposite directions at the same junction - not a good design idea!

  •  the fourth major road crossing is a lovely underpass under a small four-lane road. It is officially "dual use" with one side marked for cycles, but no one seems to have told the pedestrains who meander around all over the place, walking on whichever side they want. It is best used at slow speeds (due to the pedestrians) but is still an excellent crossing.
Aren't I lucky :-)

Then after that lovely underpass, there is a short stretch that is a one-way street (going the other way!), so I make like a pedestrian for that 50 yards or so, then back on the bike, and off I go again.
Cycling right up the semi-pedestrianised High Street, I hang a left at the top, and I'm in the Market Square (yep, there really are markets there - food markets three days a week, plus other markets for another day or two).