Sustrans blasts "incredibly dangerous" cycle lane - but councillor says cyclists should be "grateful" for it

Lane on approach to M5 at Weston-super-Mare is half the minimum width recommended by the DfT

by Simon_MacMichael   January 17, 2014  

Somerset Avenue, Weston-super-Mare (source Google Street View)

Sustrans has condemned a new cycle lane in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, as “incredibly dangerous” because it fails to meet minimum width standards – but a local councillor says that cyclists should be “grateful” that it has been built at all.

The cycle lane in question is on the A370 Somerset Avenue as it heads towards the roundabout at Junction 21 of the M5 motorway and is just 1 metre 2 centimetres wide.

That’s around half the 2 metre width recommended by the Department for Transport (DfT) on busy roads, or those where the speed limit is 40mph or more.

What’s more, as a BBC Points West video report posted to its Facebook page shows, the cycle lane, around 200 metres long, lies between the central reservation and the outside lane of the eastbound carriageway – if you look closely at this drawing, you can see it.

The beginning of the cycle lane can be seen in this photo taken by local cyclist Peter Rogers and added to’s Photomap.

It starts by a set of traffic lights that have been installed as part of the £15 million Weston Package which, according to North Somerset Council, is aimed at providing “transport improvements to benefit car and motorcycle drivers, bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians in Weston-super-Mare and Worle.”

The Google Street View image above, taken before those works were carried out, shows the location where the cycle lane starts - just where the silver van to the right of the picture is.

Jason Torrance, director of policy at Sustrans, told the BBC: "It's very clearly dangerous. I would ask the people who built this and designed it, 'would they cycle on there with their kids?' The almost certain answer would be no.

"This alleged cycle lane is incredibly dangerous. Putting something like this in is worse than not having it at all."

According to a report on the BBC News Bristol website, DfT guidelines are that cycle lanes should be at least 3 metres wide, although that is the recommended minimum width for shared use paths on the footway.

However, for cycle lanes on the road, according to guidelines published in 2008 by the DfT in a Local Transport Note on Cycle Infrastructure Design:

Cycle lanes should be 2 metres wide on busy roads, or where traffic is travelling in excess of 40 mph. A minimum width of 1.5 metres may be generally acceptable on roads with a 30 mph limit. For cycle feeder lanes to advanced stop line arrangements, a minimum width of 1.2m may be acceptable. Cycle lanes less than 1.2 metres wide cannot easily accommodate tricycles or child­carrying cycle trailers wholly within the lane.

A spokesman for the DfT told the BBC: "Local councils are best placed to find local solutions and we only offer guidance to minimum widths for cycle lanes."

But North Somerset Council’s deputy leader, Elfan Ap Rees, insisted: "We couldn't change it if we wanted to,” and said cyclists should be “grateful” the cycle lane had been put there.

"I think the cyclists need to bear in mind that the approach to this area has no cycleway at all, indeed it doesn't even have a pavement, so I think they need to be grateful for the short length that we've actually managed to put in,” he added.

The Conservative councillor, who in 2012 said that until cyclists “are better behaved I can understand why there is opposition to new cycletrack schemes,” was asked by the BBC if he would ride a bike on the Weston Avenue cycle lane himself.

“I would, yes. I wouldn't have a problem with it." But when BBC reporter Andy Howard followed up that question with, “Do you want to come and have a go now?” Mr Ap Rees replied, “Not today, thank you.”

24 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

His response when asked if he'd like to cycle it now summed it up. He'll never cycle there. It's an insane bit of box ticking lunacy.

From the drawings, there seems to have been significant carriageway widening in several parts, so they clearly weren't being squeamish about concreting over green space.

posted by Al__S [777 posts]
17th January 2014 - 21:42


I don't live in North Somerset, I live in Bristol, so can't do this but please someone start a petition to North Somerset Council to demand that Ap Rees makes good his word and cycles on this cycle lane. 10,000 signatures means the council should debate it.

posted by CYvonne [3 posts]
17th January 2014 - 21:50


Elfan Ap Rees is a dangerous buffoon and is clearly not fit to hold a public office. Just Google his name and see some of his anti cycling nonsense. He has history when it comes to the provision of cycling infrastructure.

posted by sooper6 [23 posts]
17th January 2014 - 21:50


FOI request for the design and completion safety audits required by CDM regulations.....

posted by CarlosFerreiro [88 posts]
17th January 2014 - 22:49


until cyclists “are better behaved I can understand why there is opposition to new cycletrack schemes,”

Ah, by that logic motorists should get no new roads or infrastructure until they're better behaved...

I know that junction, it's bad enough in a car, even now after all the work. I wouldn't dream of trying to negotiate it on a bike.

posted by crazy-legs [615 posts]
17th January 2014 - 23:07


"From the drawings, there seems to have been significant carriageway widening in several parts, so they clearly weren't being squeamish about concreting over green space."

exactly my feelings when I looked at the plans - I thought that maybe this was a misguided attempt to do good in a situation that had very little space* but no plenty of space was found for new vehicle lanes and now the inevitable driver hostility to cyclists using "their" lanes

*I'm ignoring the politically impossible option of actually taking road space away from vehicles

antigee's picture

posted by antigee [208 posts]
17th January 2014 - 23:36


Just watched the video. Could not believe it. The cycle way seems to be covered in debris, the Camber wants to make you lean into the traffic. I am assuming you have to cross 2 lanes of traffic just to get to it (I don't know the road at all). Cyclists should be "grateful" says the idiot of a Councillor, but then refuses to ride on it. These schemes are worse than no cycle lane at all. If I was a local rider I would feel safer on the main carriageway. A new leader in the Chart of "Crappy & Dangerous Cycle Lanes". This attitude to cyclists has got to change, we pay as much tax as motorists in the normal taxation system (anyway don't most cyclists have a car and pay Vehicle Tax?-are there official figures for this?). This is an accident waiting to happen.

Blood, Sweat & all the Gear with no Idea.

fatbastard's picture

posted by fatbastard [25 posts]
18th January 2014 - 8:57


The cynic in me says that lanes such as these were never intended to be used, rather the length of such pointless bits of paint can be added together to help meet 'cycle provision' targets at virtually no cost nor inconvenience to motor traffic. Angry

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [233 posts]
18th January 2014 - 9:43


WIll anyone actually use it? That has to be the most pointless "path" ever and a cert for Facility of the Month!

posted by spen [101 posts]
18th January 2014 - 9:52


I live in W-s-M and use that section of road (in my car) most days. During the junction works, I spotted that they were putting in drop kerbs and making a narrow little path and I really couldn't figure out what it was. Only when I saw the Points West article on telly did the penny drop.

Yesterday I drove along the right hand lane, and looked at the surface of the 'cycle lane', you cannot believe how poorly laid the tarmac is, and anyone using it is putting themselves in real danger. Not that I think anyone will use it as there are almost no cyclists going out of the town on that road. Even at the weekend, any rider coming from the town and heading out towards Bristol, will just ride on the road.

It's a shame this has been done, as the North Somerset access officers are really very good and we do have an extensive cycle path network, but this is, as someone has said, a box tick exercise.

As for App Reece.... I best not express my feelings about the man here. His comments about pavements should give you an insight into how much he knows about highways and who can use them......

posted by Grubbythumb [55 posts]
18th January 2014 - 10:25


I know that junction (even though I live in London) and I know how busy it gets. It'd be good if the councillor could be forced to ride a bicycle round the junction at peak period to make him realise just how utterly dangerous and pointless it is.

Cycle provision such as this is worse than no provision at all.


posted by OldRidgeback [2450 posts]
18th January 2014 - 10:32


The times I've ridden out of Weston back to Bristol I have used Eldon Road/Wick Road which bypasses the motorway junction and brings you out on the A370 1.5 miles up the road.

Redvee's picture

posted by Redvee [132 posts]
18th January 2014 - 12:43


Cllr Clive Darke has the right idea, hopefully Ap Rees uses his cack infrastructure and can be buried under the tennis courts ASAP

posted by georgee [154 posts]
18th January 2014 - 14:43


As someone noted above, the Road Safety Audit for this scheme would make interesting reading, particularly stage 3, post construction. I hope Halcrow's PI & PL insurance premium payments are up to date.

posted by Nixster [163 posts]
18th January 2014 - 16:09


A lot of traffic groups inside local councils really have no clue when it comes to traffic junctions, I'm currently trying to get a response from Hounslow council about a new layout which is impressive because it seems rather dangerous to me as all the old road markings are slowly reappearing.

posted by embattle [17 posts]
18th January 2014 - 17:06


Three meters for a shared use ! My local authority (Gateshead) has one of half a meter and it is generally covered in leaves and is most annoyingly signed "cyclists join footway".

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [253 posts]
18th January 2014 - 17:17


just been reading, quite incredible how far from the guidance cycle paths are most of the time, makes you wonder if councils bother reading any of it?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1646 posts]
18th January 2014 - 23:31


Gross negligence at the very best. In an age where I have to report a paper cut at work just how have we become so tolerant of blatant and engineered lethality on our PUBLIC highways?

This councillor is a disgrace...I say get him on there with his kids on a bike at rush hour and interview him on live tv afterwards in hospital. If he will not then this latest excuse for cycling provision is nothing more than a waste of public money and he should stand down for such bloody stupid use of funds.

These people should be forced to go with police liaison officers to the homes of road 'accident' victims and watch the utter devastation their ignorance and indifference is causing.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [197 posts]
19th January 2014 - 10:58


North Somerset Council’s deputy leader, Elfan Ap Rees, said
"I think the cyclists need to bear in mind that the approach to this area has no cycleway at all, indeed it doesn't even have a pavement", and insisted: "We couldn't change it if we wanted to,” and said cyclists should be “grateful” the cycle lane had been put there.

So 1, he knows theres no cycleway before this point but is not going to do anything about it, 2, he clearly thinks that cyclists should not be on his roads and in the way of car drivers they should be on the non exsistant pavement, and 3, we should be grateful for something that seems very much like an after thought (probably after a "liquid lunch" as well).

Also if you come down the slip on the left of the picture how do you get across the slip lane to use the ATS to cross to the so called cycle path?


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [649 posts]
19th January 2014 - 16:20


Wow. That really is appalling.


posted by Edgeley [215 posts]
20th January 2014 - 15:49

1 Like

What a great idea. Put cyclists in a narrow cycle lane next to the fastest moving traffic on a dual carriageway. Its clearly designed to maximise the tow from passing vehicles so cyclists can improve their Strava times Thinking

posted by Tony [90 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 9:22

1 Like

An exercise in box ticking. Sadly it will likely end in someones death.

posted by kitsunegari [27 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:13


With a bit of luck Elfan Ap Rees testicals will turn square and rot in the corners. Surprise

posted by sodit [78 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:36


I'm confused about what this lane is for (lack of local knowledge I think). Is it intended for use by cyclists turning right at the roundabout? It looks like turning right takes you onto the motorway?

If it is an additional approach lane to a roundabout it makes some sense (not much though), otherwise what will 200m of path do for you anyway? It would only be worth 10 of 20 seconds surely?

posted by Matt eaton [614 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 12:24