Cyclists 'endangering lives' by cycling on dual carriageways (say motorists)

Riders say nearby cycle paths are badly maintained - but they are 'swept annually'...

by Sarah Barth   October 24, 2012  

road.cc news

A woman in Angus, Scotland, who took to Facebook to complain about cyclists riding on a stretch of dual carriageway has been slapped down by cycle campaigners who say that the nearby cycle paths are badly maintained.

Carnoustie woman Claudia Burgess saw the two cyclists on the A92 and took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

She posted: ''Why put yourself and other road users at risk.

''The road has a 70mph speed limit and if a lorry is in the nearside lane doing 50mph or 60mph and a car is passing on the outside lane, it won't leave much room for the cyclists.''

Dr Kevin Smith, a lecturer at Abertay University lecturer added to the criticism, telling The Courier: ''I have observed, as both a motorist and a cyclist on the adjacent path, cyclists on this stretch of road endangering their lives and frequently causing motorists to make a sudden, and hence potentially dangerous, manoeuvre to avoid them.

''It is such cyclists whose sanity seems to be in question. Moreover, given that the law prohibits cyclists from motorways, which seems only sensible to me even though I am greatly in favour of enabling cyclists' freedom in general, it would seem correct to prohibit cyclists from this motorway-like section of the A92 from Monifieth to Arbroath.''

The A92 is in fact a dual carriageway, which cyclists do have the right to use, although cars can travel on these roads at up to 70 mph.

The treasurer of Angus Cycling Club, Bryan Williams, argued back, saying that cyclists were well within their rights to ride on the roads, and blamed the poor state of cycle paths for forcing riders onto potentially dangerous roads.

He said: ''The state of the cycle paths in general is not good.''There is a lot of road debris and bits of glass on them, where you can risk a puncture and all sorts.''

''It's certainly not illegal [to ride on dual carriageways] but, on the whole, we tend to stay off busy roads, more for comfort than anything else,'' he said.

A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland, which looks after roads in the area said: ''We maintain the section of the A92 from Dundee to Arbroath and the cycle path is kept in good order.

''It is generally swept annually and local areas cleaned as and when necessary if broken glass or debris is noted during our regular inspections.

''Despite this some cyclists - particularly long-distance cyclists - prefer to travel on-road.''

Earlier this year we wrote about how a judge has been campaigning to keep cyclists off many A roads.

Judge Tonkin suggests that it would improve safety “to remove all cyclists from any dual-carriageway which is not subject to a speed limit of 30, or possibly 40, mph.”

He goes on to say, “This would not prevent cyclists from using dual-carriageways in urban areas but would take them away from some of our more dangerous trunk roads where traffic is both heavy and fast moving.

“Any cyclist, particularly a lone cyclist who is not wearing high-visibility clothing, is at huge risk on such roads from vehicles approaching from behind at a (legal) closing speed of up to 60 mph. At such a closing speed a relatively small and very vulnerable “object” is coming into view at the rate of 60ft per second and in a moment’s inattention irreparable damage is done.”

As Carlton Reid has pointed out, there are a few problems with this idea. Even if it only applies to dual-carriageway A roads, in some places such a road is the only way to get fro A to B. Judge Tonkin is effectively saying that non-urban cycling should be banned from such areas.

He also overlooks that it's already possible for A-roads to be restricted so that cyclists cannot use them, via traffic regulation orders.

What's more worrying than a judge forgetting that particular bit of the law, is his use of language. Judge Tonkin speaks of “huge risk”' but in fact the number of deaths of cyclists as a result of being hit from behind on an A-road is small. To solve the problem by banning cyclists from such roads, and to therefore set the precedent of overturning cyclists' general right to use the public highway, is using an atom bomb to crack a walnut.

 

 

31 user comments

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''The road has a 70mph speed limit and if a lorry is in the nearside lane doing 50mph or 60mph and a car is passing on the outside lane, it won't leave much room for the cyclists.''

What about the reprehensible idea that motorists may occasionally need to take account of other road users, and (gasp) sometimes this might mean waiting a few seconds before overtaking, or even slowing down from time to time.

posted by kaska [10 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:20

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You have to agree that 70 mph dual carriageways are no place for cyclists. The issue is the alternatives available. In the case mentioned in the article a cycle path is given as an alternative, but the quality of that path is questioned. Is it badly maintained? Possibly not if you want to cycle along at around 10 mph.

And here lies the problem, not all cyclists want to ride along at 10 mph, especially over distances usually covered by the A roads in question. Unfortunately cycle paths along side such roads tend to be little more than a pedestrian pavement with a cycle symbol painted on it.

Give me a cycle path that is nearer in design to a B road than a pavement, where I can safely travel above 20 mph and I'd be happy for you to ban me from riding my bike on the adjacent 70 mph dual carriageway.

posted by markyjl [8 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:28

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'...in fact the number of deaths of cyclists as a result of being hit from behind on an A-road is small'

Well, yes, but I imagine there aren't that many cyclists on A roads to hit.

posted by HKCambridge [80 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:38

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God forbid that a motorist should have to delay their journey by even one second by timing their overtake to make it safer for everyone Angry

Gravity - it won't let you down.

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posted by bigmel [63 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:41

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"I have observed, as both a motorist and a cyclist on the adjacent path, cyclists on this stretch of road endangering their lives and frequently causing motorists to make a sudden, and hence potentially dangerous, manoeuvre to avoid them"

Sudden manoeuvres ????? Shouldn't the driver be watching
where they're going and making planned judgements !!!

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [605 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:41

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The road authority's response to complaints about debris on the cycle path is to say they're kept in good order because they're "swept annually"? Says it all really. They need sweeping at least weekly, ideally daily!

posted by Paul J [452 posts]
24th October 2012 - 10:48

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At least we're not as bad as the disabled scooters that regularly take to the main roads near us even though there is a perfectly good pavement for them.

Oh I forgot we can't pick on them - there not cyclists.

Next bit of bike bashing please........

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

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posted by badback [258 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:05

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You all seem to forget that car drivers own the roads, they pay for them via the road tax, Oh no I forgot, they don't pay for them via the road tax, I pay for them via my council tax and I don't own a car, so what do they think their doing driving about on my road?

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [59 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:35

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Isn't this just an argument to lower speed limits on dual carriageways?

posted by hoski [62 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:38

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markyjl wrote:
You have to agree that 70 mph dual carriageways are no place for cyclists.

No - no, I don't

What I *do* have to agree is that drivers need to understand that the speed LIMIT is an upper boundary - not some sort of target to be achieved

Drivers are required *by law* to moderate their speed based on the ambient conditions and also the other traffic on the road - as the meerkat says "Simples!"

posted by mad_scot_rider [520 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:49

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The above comments say it all - a bit of criticism and its a case of circling the wagons and letting rip. Cycle paths and roads are in poor order and banning anyone is always a backward step ( although anyone wanting to ride on a duel carriage way must be fxxxxxg insane - you will eventually get killed! ). Some vehicles are a total danger zone and some cyclists need to lose the aggressive defense default setting - chill out it always helps. I will ride any where but I'm not going to put my own life in danger just because I can.

posted by mick intherain [14 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:58

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kaska wrote:
What about the reprehensible idea that motorists may occasionally need to take account of other road users, and (gasp) sometimes this might mean waiting a few seconds before overtaking, or even slowing down from time to time.

Or even looking ahead and anticipating traffic.

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posted by djcritchley [143 posts]
24th October 2012 - 11:59

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Its interesting that neither the original complainer, nor anyone commenting here has picked up on the fact that lorries above 7.5 tons are limited to 50 mph on dual carriageways. This is unsurprising because that limit is ignored, as is the limit of 40 mph on single carriageway roads. Lorries are probably the most frequent law breakers on the road.
There is no comment here about junctions either. I don't know if the road in question has grade seperated junctions, but the sort of cycle path that dumps you back on the road at zero mph just before a roundabout is dangerous. Roundabouts are best taken at a speed as close to the traffic speed as possible.

posted by felixcat [181 posts]
24th October 2012 - 12:00

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Even with the best will in the world, drivers and cyclists make mistakes. When the car is going 70mph, that mistake will mean death or serious injury for the cyclist. It is madness to mix motor vehicles and vulnerable road users at speeds above 20mph in my opinion, and once you're above 40mph it's total madness.

People on the road make mistakes. Those mistakes shouldn't lead to deaths, but when you are mixing bikes and cars at high speeds then they will.

posted by SpamSpamSpam [20 posts]
24th October 2012 - 12:07

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I know this route well, maybe I am one of the cyclist's she met, I'll have to chase her up as she just lives along the road from my uncle Devil

The cycle path is a joke, so I use the dualer. There is no other alternative to get to certain other roads that cyclists enjoy. The only other way from Aberdeen to Dundee is the coastal road, which in my eyes is even more dangerous because people do not stick to the speed limits as many do on the dualer because its full of camera's

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posted by Gkam84 [8340 posts]
24th October 2012 - 12:26

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I think we should adopt the Dutch way. From my short foray,
1. Every road seemed either have a seperate cycle lane. Or was single traffic lane with a cycle lane either side.
2. Coupled with the if you are involved in an accident with a cyclist you are at fault until proven otherwise.
3. Finally topped of with cyclist have right of way at every junction without controlled crossing.

Or maybe we should just lobby the government to reduce tax on fuel, and place it on sports nutrition and equipment instead. Big Grin

I would like to see speed limits through roadworks be an average of 40mph, just to pee off HGV drivers. Thinking

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [228 posts]
24th October 2012 - 12:34

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
I would like to see speed limits through roadworks be an average of 40mph, just to pee off HGV drivers. Thinking

I would like to see anything above 7 tonnes to be banned in and around city centres and then those only allowed in outside business hours.

Claudia Burgess argument is akin to saying that its others fault that they got punched in the head because they got in the way of me running around with my fists clenched and spinning my arms wildly.

posted by zanf [391 posts]
24th October 2012 - 12:39

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mick intherain wrote:
anyone wanting to ride on a duel carriage way must be fxxxxxg insane

Sometimes it's the only road there is. And no, you won't eventually get killed, or I'd be dead several times over just getting to work and back for 30 years.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
24th October 2012 - 16:53

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People actually ride on dual carriageways ?! In 8 odd years of riding I've never even thought about riding on one. In fact I probably do less than 10 miles on major 'A' roads each year, always find a quieter way. Possible safety issues aside, it's just not pleasant. Probably why I won't ride most TTs.

posted by MattT53 [122 posts]
24th October 2012 - 16:59

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Queen Elizabeth (the Shakespearean era queen) is reputed to have once said "I take a bath twice a year, whether I need one or not". The highways guy's response is in much the same vein.

Dangerous, or sensible, or no, cyclists, horse riders, drivrs of pony traps etc are entitled to use most dual carriageway trunk roads. There are some exceptions, such as the new Hindhead Tunnel, which is unavailable to any vehilce with less than 50cc motor. Consequently, the Highways Agency has had to spend a fair sum of money (albeit tiny in comparison with the £381m cost of the tunnel) providing a bypass route over Hindhead Common. I have absolutely no doubt that hey would not have done this unless they were compelled to by law.

posted by Paul M [299 posts]
24th October 2012 - 17:33

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Gas pedal works both ways on our family car and there's a brake pedal next to it will make you slow down real fast.

Clearly there is no need to do this when overtaking lorries that are overtaking cyclists though. That's just stoopid. Surprise

Really, though?

posted by workhard [302 posts]
24th October 2012 - 18:17

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I know a lot about cycling next to high-speed traffic.

It's basically what we do all the time in Abu Dhabi where there are no cycle paths and in general there is not always a choice of roads. Large parts of our regular routes are on the equivalent of motorways where the speed limit is 140km/h.

And call me crazy but I feel much safer there than I do when cycling with Dulwich Paragon in the lanes of Surrey and Kent. I even wear headphones here, which I would never do in the UK.

Most cycling accidents if I recall correctly occur when motor vehicles and bicycles have to interact - at junctions, pinch points, roundabouts and so on. In the 'quiet' lanes there is always a car coming up behind or a white van around the next corner who can't see through the hedgerow. Even where there are paths cyclists are forever having to go into cycle lanes and then out again to fight for their place in traffic and get around parked cars, buses etc.

Yes if a car, truck or bus comes up at 120km/h and collects me then I am an instant ex-cyclist. Hence the headphones - hearing them coming won't make any difference.

But the chances of that are many many times smaller than someone coming through me at a roundabout, or not letting me go around a parked car, or trying to overtake without enough room and having to cut in.

So in my experience 70mph dual carriageways and motorways are not scenic but they are one of the best places to cycle.

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posted by abudhabiChris [481 posts]
24th October 2012 - 18:35

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Agreed entirely - dual carriageways are one of the safest places. Simply because the opportunity for numptiness is massively decreased. I have far more 'near misses' when there are side streets, lights, opportunities for left hooks etc than I do on DCs. Have lights, ride sensibly, hold the line.

posted by andyp [688 posts]
24th October 2012 - 20:26

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I just plough along at 70 mph or is that kmh bacause I feel the need for speed! Wink

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
24th October 2012 - 21:22

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I use my local cycle path for the commute to avoid the danger of the alternative dual carriageway, but I fully understood my mate who has switched back to the road having gotten fed up dodging the dog sh1t/walkers, glass, broken Tarmac and youths on their quads/loitering ominously. Yes, I know I sound like my dad Smile

Cheers M
_______________________________________________________
“Racing Is Life. Anything That Happens Before or After is Just Waiting.”

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posted by Morpheus00 [41 posts]
25th October 2012 - 7:23

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As we all know though, there are some cycle users (rather than cyclists) who act like A1 knobs by cycling two abreast on busy, fast moving roads. Thanks to those guys for making us look like arrogant and inconsiderate prats.

Cheers M
_______________________________________________________
“Racing Is Life. Anything That Happens Before or After is Just Waiting.”

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posted by Morpheus00 [41 posts]
25th October 2012 - 7:31

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Morpheus00 wrote:
cycle users (rather than cyclists) who act like A1 knobs by cycling two abreast on busy, fast moving roads

Like all those drivers who cart around an empty seat next to them? Make 'em ride motorbikes!

In fact, since there is a whole lane for overtaking with no oncoming traffic, a dual carriageway is one place where riding two-abreast is safer for the cyclists and less inconvenient for others.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
25th October 2012 - 10:11

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JohnS wrote:

In fact, since there is a whole lane for overtaking with no oncoming traffic, a dual carriageway is one place where riding two-abreast is safer for the cyclists and less inconvenient for others.

Which is why I said busy roads. If it's quiet you can have your own peloton. No busy dual carriageway however is going to have a free lane for overtaking. By riding two abreast, you're just going to create a tailback, all looking to pull out and pull in again quickly. Dangerous, needlessly vexing to other road users and against the Highway Code. We cyclists have enough enemies without going out of our way to make more.

Cheers M
_______________________________________________________
“Racing Is Life. Anything That Happens Before or After is Just Waiting.”

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posted by Morpheus00 [41 posts]
25th October 2012 - 19:36

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Morpheus00 wrote:
JohnS wrote:

In fact, since there is a whole lane for overtaking with no oncoming traffic, a dual carriageway is one place where riding two-abreast is safer for the cyclists and less inconvenient for others.

Which is why I said busy roads. If it's quiet you can have your own peloton. No busy dual carriageway however is going to have a free lane for overtaking. By riding two abreast, you're just going to create a tailback, all looking to pull out and pull in again quickly. Dangerous, needlessly vexing to other road users and against the Highway Code. We cyclists have enough enemies without going out of our way to make more.

+1

Let them go for the Darwin award if they want to...

Nic

posted by nbrus [277 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:06

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Perceived wisdom would suggest that fast busy roads are likely to be the most dangerous for cyclists but I am not sure there is any evidence to support this view.

From my limited research the risk of death from an RTA in the UK is pretty much the same whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist. Most cyclist deaths occur from a collision with another vehicle but rarely is it the fault of the cyclist.

BTW there is no reliable UK evidence that wearing a helmet or hi-viz makes any difference to survival rates. If a car hits you it hurts and a flimsy cycle helmet doesn't help at all.

Usually cyclist deaths result from a collision due to poor visbility, poor road configuration, poor driving or an inattentive driver. Whether or not hi-viz wearers suffer less collisions is anyones guess.

As a cyclist, a driver and a motorcyclist I have only had one collision and that was on a motorbike some 20years ago. I was wearing hi-viz, a helmet and leathers, doing about 10mph with my headlight on during a light summer afternoon on the Kings Road and a dickhead driver decided to T-bone me. He was doing about 5-10mph. My bike was a big 1000cc Honda and I am 17stone 6' 4" so I was not easy to miss. I was much more visible than a cyclist and it made no difference. His first comment? 'I'm sorry mate I didn't see you!'. 'No you didn't, even though I was looking in your eyes as you drove in to me! So why did you pull out on me?' I replied. He just shrugged as I got up off the road. The point being that he wasn't paying attention. My Hi-viz made no difference. If he had been doing 30mph I would have been severely injured so I was just lucky I guess. My protective clothing, at any combined speed above 30mph, wouldn't have prevented a serious injury, that I do know.

If protective clothing gives you confidence then wear it. Me? I always wear bright light clothing with reflective elements in the main and keep my fingers crossed that drivers see me. I wear a helmet when I'm riding quickly on the road as I am used to wearing one on my motorbikes so it feels right but I do not have any confidence in the level of protection my £120 LAS cycling helmet gives when compared with my £500 full face carbon composite biker helmet but I still feel better with it on when bombing it down a steep hill at 40mph+.

Obviously collisions with motor vehicles results in the cyclist coming off worse but it simply isn't true to suggest that a cyclist is any more likely to be hit on a fast dual carriageway than on other quieter roads. Yes, there are circumstances that could create a potentially hazardous passing manoeuvre on a dual carriageway but if motorists drive cautiously, whilst looking for potential hazards ahead (as we are all supposed to when on a public highway) there is no reason why cyclists should be excluded. Every driver has a brain, a pair of eyes and a brake and if all drivers used them then maybe cyclists wouldn't keep getting hit.

posted by BigBear63 [60 posts]
27th October 2012 - 22:15

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