'Britain's dumbest cycle lane' isn't actually a cycle lane at all… or dumb

Cyclists set the record straight as the national press turn their attention to road markings in Bedfordshire

by Simon_MacMichael   May 9, 2012  

road.cc news

Bicycle markings in the middle of a road in a small Bedfordshire town have attracted the attention of the national press, with the Daily Mail asking ‘Is this Britain’s dumbest cycle lane?’ The answer to that question is an emphatic ‘no’ – because it isn’t a cycle lane at all. However the fact it is assumed to be one does perhaps highlight ignorance about road signs and markings related to cycling, even among bike riders themselves.

The Daily Mail, along with other newspapers such as the Daily Mirror and London freesheet Metro, had picked up a report on the Biggleswade Chronicle website in which a cyclist expressed his bewilderment about road markings showing bikes that had been painted on the street where he lives, Stotfold Road in Arlesey, Bedfordshire, as shown in a picture accompanying that article.

According to the article, martial arts teacher Pete Hollands, who has lived in the area for two decades, believes that the location of the cycle symbols, close to the broken white line in the centre of the road, was due to a mistake on the part of contractors Amey, working on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council.

“I’m a fitness trainer and a keen cyclist myself so I’m always in favour of improving routes and access for bicycles,” he said.

“But these signs are very strange – some of the time there are cars parked on either side of the road so they don’t look too bad then.

“But when the road is empty it looks like the council wants people just to cycle down the middle of the road, which doesn’t seem very safe!

“You tend to see cars parked at the sides of the road the most in the evenings, at night and early in the morning when people are back home from work.

“I think the workmen may have come here during those times and as they couldn’t move any of the vehicles they have just painted the symbols in the middle where there was space.”

As was pointed out in a comment to that article, however, the issue of cars being parked down one side of the street isn’t confined to those belonging to local residents – commuters parking their cars there while they head off to work via the local train station mean that it’s also an issue during the daytime.

By the time the story had been picked up by the Daily Mail and other outlets, the markings were being reported incorrectly as a ‘cycle lane’ or ‘cycle path’ whereas in fact they act both to alert motorists to the fact that cyclists are sharing the road with them as well as indicating the route to cyclists – the road forms part of the National Cycle Network – and keeps them away from the door zone of the parked cars.

In a comment to the Metro article, Cyclegaz, well known in the cycling community as a result of the YouTube videos he posts of helmet camera footage shot during his journeys in London, set the record straight.

“Is this a fail or is this a win?” he asked.

“For starters it isn't a cycle lane, a cycle lane must have boundary markings, dashed or solid white lines.

“A bicycle sign in the road can mean two things. 'cycle route, be aware of bicycles' or 'cyclists ride here'.

“Several councils in my local area have painted the cycle logo in the middle of the lane, to encourage cyclists to take a central position where it is unsafe for other vehicles to pass. This is standard cycling practise.

“Now the image appears to be cropped so you can't see the parked cars to the left of the shot, but if there are parked cars there all the time, what is the point in putting a cycle lane through them, what would be better is to put a cycle sign in the road where cyclists should pass parked cars. several ft out to avoid being doored,” he added.
 

21 user comments

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Not in the Highway Code though, is it?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
9th May 2012 - 12:10

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Not in the Highway Code, but still a sensible thing to have. In Oxford's Cowley Road we have such bike markings over a 2 mile stretch, to try to persuade cyclists to take the lane and motorists to respect cyclists. A partial success, I would say.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [150 posts]
9th May 2012 - 12:15

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Just been reading some of the comments.........f*cktards is an understatement

"If cyclists want cycle lanes, they should be licensed, taxed, insured and show a number plate... Also they should obey the laws of the road..."

"Cyclists are a menace on Britain's small roads , every cyclist should have insurance and a Tax disc if they want to cycle on the Public road"

"Talk about free riders! We pay our mandatory road tax, compulsory car insurance plus extra extortionate taxes on our petrol. We now have to pay to have signs painted on our roads to remind us of these free loaders."

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8146 posts]
9th May 2012 - 12:27

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Gkam84 wrote:
Just been reading some of the comments.........f*cktards is an understatement

And now you know why I read the 3rd party report rather than clicking through to that odious rag

posted by mad_scot_rider [518 posts]
9th May 2012 - 12:31

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Be safe. Use Kitten Block to avoid accidental visits to the Daily Mail website.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
9th May 2012 - 13:11

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My favourite:

"They think they own the roads anyway, and were the painted cycle is that were they usually cycle anyway and take up ALL the road in there Lycra clad romper suits, they are a danger on our roads especialy when there are more than one of them."

Funny, but when I stick to the left I get buzzed real close by drivers that refuse to use the width of the road safely, preferring to scare the bejesus out of me instead. If I use more of the lane, they either can't do that, or I get some space on my left for contingency purposes.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
9th May 2012 - 13:27

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Almost as good as the 'bunny hop' cycle lane on the A635 in Manchester.

posted by andyp [633 posts]
9th May 2012 - 13:27

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What/where's that (apart from "on the a635", obviously!)? Not heard of it.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
9th May 2012 - 13:43

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"while they head off to work at the local train station"

Just how many of these commuters work at the station?

OK, pedantry out of the way. Remember folks, whatever your political persuasion - a newspaper is much better than the Daily Mail. Some people read the Mail for most of the lives and are obviously still incredibly ignorant.

They do however, get access to some wonderful advertising for soft leather velcro-fastening shoes. Hang on, now I think about it they might be ideal with the right kind of cleat for a Sunday ride.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
9th May 2012 - 14:05

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What a ridiculous article. There *are* some dumb cycle lanes knocking about, but it seems completely obvious to me that's not meant to be a cycle "lane".

This just seems to be some Mail fodder to give their users a chance to write hilarious comments about lycra and jumping red lights.

Here's the most ignorant and ill-thought out comment so far, complete with 12 green arrows:

"...One near here failed to take into account the refuges (for pedestrians) in the middle of the road, so the space left for the motorists was just wide enough for a small car, but this was a bus route!

Sir Willoughby Toddhunter-Brown, London, UK, 8/5/2012 12:10"

posted by sporran [39 posts]
9th May 2012 - 14:08

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The markings still shouldn't be in the center of the carriage way against the white line, what ever the reason is they are there to promote cycling or to mark a route the left carriage way is in the center, the right hand one is to the right ... so who ever painted them doesn't appear to have a joined up approach.

RhysW's picture

posted by RhysW [71 posts]
9th May 2012 - 16:18

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RhysW wrote:
... the left carriage way is in the center, the right hand one is to the right ... so who ever painted them doesn't appear to have a joined up approach.

But the other side of the road doesn't have cars parked all the way along it.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7484 posts]
9th May 2012 - 16:43

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Is there really any kind of signage, or road marking, that can be used on an ordinary road, that says/means take care, or look out for, cyclists?

The traffic technician for my local council wrote to me saying, effectively, there are none, and consequently, cyclists just have to take their chances.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [200 posts]
9th May 2012 - 21:24

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They could do a lot more for cycling safety.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
9th May 2012 - 21:56

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This article shows what's wrong with our parking in the UK. I think we should adopt the French idea of only allowing parking on one side of narrow roads (a very bad example of this is Beechtree Avenue in Peterborough - you can barely get down it for parked cars).

Also, whilst it's the convention to drive on the left it's not actually mandatory in any vehicle (the exception is where there are keep left signs). I frequently drive down the right hand side of the road where it's safer to do so.

As for people not wanting their cars to share the road with bicycles, this doesn't really qualify as news.

Nowasps - it's a red triangle with a bicycle in it (warning sign) that councils can use to warn of cyclists. Unfortunately these only perpetuate the myth that the road is for cars and worse, are mistaken for the red circle with a bicycle in which means no bicycles. I can't see a reason for keeping either.

Expect to see cyclists anywhere but motorways...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [275 posts]
9th May 2012 - 22:38

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But the other side of the road doesn't have cars parked all the way along it.

The Mail has only found one opinion but (unless you read the Mail every day) there aren't too many parking restrictions or bus stops in the centre of the carridge way - the key is that they are butted against the center line not just in the middle.

RhysW's picture

posted by RhysW [71 posts]
9th May 2012 - 22:53

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Gkam84 wrote:
Talk about free riders! We pay our mandatory road tax, compulsory car insurance plus extra extortionate taxes on our petrol. We now have to pay to have signs painted on our roads to remind us of these free loaders."

Actually you don't pay road tax you pay vehicle excise duty. Depending on the size of your vehicle or it's emissions depends on how much you pay per year. As bicycles have no emissions there is no cost.
I actually pay VED on my two cars and two motorcycles plus insurance for all four. If I decide I fancy cycling to work as its a lot cheaper and it helps me get fit then why not? It certainly doesnt make me a free loader. Maybe you should try it - you never know you might enjoy it and make you less angry!

Dangermouse's picture

posted by Dangermouse [9 posts]
10th May 2012 - 0:19

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Dangermouse wrote:
Maybe you should try it - you never know you might enjoy it and make you less angry!

Err, perhaps you ought to take another look at that, the guy was quoting, presumably from the websites linked above, and I rather suspect he wasn't endorsing the quotes, his first line is the clue (not to mention the "")...

posted by JonD [168 posts]
10th May 2012 - 1:00

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I suppose the clue was in the "picked up by the daily mail"....

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
10th May 2012 - 7:41

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Its not an 'epic fail' - when you think of it...a cyclist can ride anywhere they like on the road, whats stopping them !

Lets put it this way, if you hit a cyclist they'll REALLY suffer yet a car driver will get NOT life threatening injuries.

Its only fair that people on bikes are respected as I feel they respect car drivers more they they'll ever realise.

Cyclist appreciate if they are respected but the 'attitude' comes from the fact of NOT getting any gestures..

I, as a car driver & a CYCLIST, would DEFINATELY not want an injury or more, to cyclist on my conscious.

It is possible to co-exist on the road as, lets face facts fellow car drivers how hard is it to turn the steeering wheel 2 inches if that to the right to pass a cyclist. Whilst wew sit in a seat thats 100x more comfortable than a scrap of leather for a saddle.

I wonder what motorists moan about really...& you cant knock cycling as its a great way of getting around, locally, more should & then there'd be less vehicles on the road.

posted by yenrod [88 posts]
10th May 2012 - 15:23

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So now we need to have cycle signs painted on the road to warn motorists to be careful of cyclists. Does that mean they don't have to be careful of cyclists where there are no signs? Maybe they are a good idea but they don't work because evidently people don't know what they mean. I didn't until I read this.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [48 posts]
10th May 2012 - 18:03

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