Chris Boardman video asks, Who Are Cycle Lanes For? ahead of Parliamentary Inquiry appearance (+ video)

Former world and Olympuc champ to give evidence to Get Britain Cycling inquiry

by Simon_MacMichael   February 13, 2013  

Chris Boardman (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Former world and Olympic champion and Tour de France maillot jaune Chris Boardman has produced a short film for British Cycling that poses the question, Who Are Cycle Lanes For? The film has been released ahead of his appearance on Wednesday before the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ Parliamentary Inquiry, the fourth of six sessions and focusing in part on how to turn Britain’s sporting success into getting more people riding bikes.

That’s part of a wider look at the health aspects of cycling, including promoting it in schools and the workplace and access to facilities, with other witnesses including Phil Insall of Sustrans and public health and transport consultant Dr Adrian Davies.

They will be joined by representatives of the Department of Health, the Cycle to Work Alliance, NICE, the Forestry Commission, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Natural England and Mountbatten School, Hampshire.

The session, held in Committee Room 8 of the House of Commons, lasts from 9.30am to 11.30am and can be followed on Twitter via the hashtag #GetBritainCycling. The final two sessions will look at ‘The Local Perspective’ on 27 February, and ‘Government’ on 4 March, ahead of a report being published in April.

Boardman’s short, near silent film – no voiceover, just the rumble of wheels, the odd click of gears, and the noise of passing traffic – highlights just some of the obstacles that stop discourage people from taking to two wheels, in the physical sense at least.

Those include cycle lanes that end abruptly, then reappear to direct riders onto poorly maintained shared footways where they must dodge road signs, and give way to motorised traffic before rejoining the road.

A short journey from British Cycling on Vimeo.


“We need to start asking ourselves questions – big ones like ‘what do we want the places in which we live to look like?’ and smaller ones like: ‘who are cycle lanes for?’,” explained Boardman.

“When we consider questions like these, I think the answers will lead us in one direction: we need more and better provision for people who want to travel by bike.

“When we have that, our towns and cities will be better places in which to live. It needs investment but the costs, of poor health caused by inactivity which are currently £4billion annually, mean the potential savings are huge.”

Martin Gibbs, Policy and Legal Affairs Director at British Cycling, added: “We’re truly world class in sporting terms and more and more people are riding bikes but to make a step change in every-day cycling one of the decisions we need to make is that cycling will be built into our transport infrastructure and policies.”

34 user comments

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You've only got to look at some of the Cycle "Super"Highways in London for the best and worst of it. Some of the sections of CS3 (Barking to Tower Bridge) are absolutely dreadful - see the section in and around East India for some of the worst

I swear The blue paint makes the tarmac more slippery in the wet as well.

I avoid it - there's some big fat bus lanes on the A13 that provide a far more pleasant route to Docklands from Aldgate/Tower area

posted by VeloPeo [270 posts]
13th February 2013 - 9:46


Please read the following in the voice of a Hollywood movie trailer guy: Chris Boardman stars, in the Academy Award nominated adaptation, of the bestselling book of our times, authored by the renounced Warrington Cycle Campaign, BCF Stuidios is proud to present, "Crap Cycle Lanes: The Movie". Co-starring some mossy tarmac, a patch of frost, and two badly placed road signs. Featuring the voice talents of squealing brakes and clicking gears. Coming to a browser window near you...

Seriously, it's a nice effort to depict what is wrong with almost all bike lanes in this country. But I'm afraid that there are plenty of people who think that if it gets the bloody cyclist - who is adding an extra two seconds to their journey, or forcing them to think about their driving - off "their" road, then paths like that are fine. If they could have rigged it so that he encountered a dog on the path, that probably would have elicited more sympathy in many people (for the dog, not the Lycra lout who might run it over.) Still, Chris Boardman is an Olympian, and people care about that. And it might avoid the usual response when ordinary cyclists post videos of their commutes on line. Which is typically hundreds of vitriolic and uninformed comments about "road tax", and how the lack of any visible hand signals means the rider is clearly incompetent, and that unless they post their entire journey from door-to-door then how can we know they didn't jump any red lights in the bits they edited out.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [169 posts]
13th February 2013 - 9:51


Brilliant! I'm off to join British Cycling if I can

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
13th February 2013 - 9:52


Apart from stopping and starting the movie a couple of times before realising it wasnt buffering, it was good.
We all know cycle lanes are for convenient delivery van parking and that advanced stop boxes are for cars to get ten feet closer to the lights.

posted by lolol [176 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:12


Very good. Maybe Chris could suggest that Liverpool City Council address cycle links in the city - before accepting 1,000 free Boris bikes? They would be better off spending £2.5M on making available routes safer for existing cyclists.

Joined up thinking is the key. LCC recently spent money replacing a quarter mile section of 10 foot wide pavement on Regent Road where no one ever walks. The whole road could be used to link the Sefton coastal cycle path to Liverpool city centre at Mann Island. Instead commuting cyclists risk their lives on Derby Road's dual carriageway where motorists habitually flaunt the 30 mph speed limit and the Police only set speed traps twice a year: once in summer when it's warm and again at Christmas when they need to get their drink driving tally up.

It's so blindingly obvious it makes me weep. Sad

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1218 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:27


A good, unbroken example of poor cycling road markings. As another contributor has mentioned the blue painted cycle routes are effectively skid pads in wet or frosty conditions.

My pet hate of cycle lanes is the detritus and debris that is regularly strewn across them, in much the same way that it ends up on the hard shoulder. But even there it gets cleared up, whereas everything from tyres to broken glass ends up in a cycle lane and never moves. Road cleaners seem to ignore them.

Ultimately cycle lanes are set up so that it separates slow moving traffic from faster moving traffic (and pedestrians).

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1617 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:28


One needs to question the education/knowledge and qualifications required to become part of the "planning" of such nonsense as the average cycle lane.

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [264 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:34


just in case anyone's appetite has been whetted for more examples of often frankly comical cycle lanes then you need to check:

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:46


Just brilliant!
Nice and clear.


posted by Francois [9 posts]
13th February 2013 - 11:04


quite simply things have been done on the cheap in the hope to placate the masses, but now we are starting to actually use them, its shown its (mostly) an embarrassment and token efforts of a using a paint brush, than an actual INFRASTRUCTURE of cycling/public transport.

posted by a_to_the_j [118 posts]
13th February 2013 - 11:11


Excellent Video, but he should have filmed it near where I live (only about 10-12 miles from Chris)

The dual carriageway was recently re-surfaced, and during that they lengthened a slip-road, removing about 100-yards of *dedicated* cycle path. On the other side of the carriageway they did nothing to the cycle path there. There is no surface left on it. It certainly isn't passable on a road bike. It wouldn't have hurt to re-surface that too. Its a very busy road, and being forced to cycle on it, is not very pleasant at all.

Some Drivers are just idiots, I was passed one morning by some guy who was speeding on that particular road, with no attempt to slow down, even though there was on-coming traffic. it was terrifying.

That said, some cyclists need a lesson in road use too. the number of cyclists in manchester (where i work) who just ignore traffic signals is unbelievable!

posted by SpaceFlightOrange [6 posts]
13th February 2013 - 11:24


Can't someone give Norman Baker's job to CB?


Pretty please?

Pete Clinch
often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

posted by pjclinch [79 posts]
13th February 2013 - 12:05


I'd love to know how much money Councils have scammed of the UK Gov/European Grants to develop safer cycling in inner cities to find the grant money gets spent else where.

posted by Roberj4 [209 posts]
13th February 2013 - 12:34


It also illustrates the common lack of signage of cycle lanes in advance of where they start. For anyone riding a road bike at a mid-teen mph, spotting a cycle lane and evaluating whether it is cyclable before passing its entrance can be quite difficult. Once you have missed the start of it, getting onto it usually means stopping and lifting your bike over a kerb or verge.

As others have noted above, it is then likely to be uneven and litter and obstacle strewn, before disgorging you back into the traffic, again with little warning.

posted by Bexleyhillbilly [47 posts]
13th February 2013 - 13:03


good video from Chris Boardman, so many cycle lanes I pass are almost always blocked by vehicles, lamp posts, rubbish, rough surface unsuitable for a road bike or only last for a few metres so are useless. When I do get to make use of a cycle lane, it always has all the gunk and debris that is normally on hard shoulders or central reservations, one I use often is covered in tree branches, not the best when you want to do all you can to avoid having a dreaded puncture on the way to/from work!

posted by ridetheroad123 [7 posts]
13th February 2013 - 13:21


I wish he could of made a film on my nearest cycle path. Along a long straight main road, but the cycle path goes on oneside for about 200m, then you have to cross the road using a Toucan crossing before having to cross back again 200m later, and at the end the path it ends on a roundabout with you on the wrong side facing traffic!

posted by Darren C [98 posts]
13th February 2013 - 13:40


Great video showing exactly why I think bike lanes should be scrapped. The ones shown here only go to emphasise the separation of bicycles from motorised vehicles. So the line gives the car driver the excuse of passing close because they are "in their lane". And, of course, in this case where the lane carriageway becomes too narrow to support the bike lane they just throw it away, rather than narrowing the car lane.

And a final question might be, what is a cyclist wanting to turn right at the roundabout supposed to do? Go on the bike path and cross 4 lanes of traffic to do so? I don't think so.

If you feel confident enough ride on the road. Use th cycle paths if you don't. But it might not be safer, or easier.

posted by akmbikes [10 posts]
13th February 2013 - 14:10


there was a guy injured nearby recently on a completely segregated cycle path where someone has placed a speed limit sign for the road traffic bang in the middle of the bike lane. It was dark, he didnt see it, he ended up in hospital with a broken arm.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
13th February 2013 - 14:33


joemmo wrote:
there was a guy injured nearby recently on a completely segregated cycle path where someone has placed a speed limit sign for the road traffic bang in the middle of the bike lane. It was dark, he didnt see it, he ended up in hospital with a broken arm.

So the sign wasn't reflective and/or he didn't have a front light...?

Sign shouldn't have been there, but something doesn't quite add up.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9492 posts]
13th February 2013 - 14:41


I've seen it all now - proof that even the great Chris Boardman rides on the pavement!

In an article by British Cycling they ask that you send them images of other crap 'facilities' or upload video:

I might have to finally get round to recording the disjointed, pathetic cycling infrastructure in Shrewsbury.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2413 posts]
13th February 2013 - 15:03


That pretty much sums up cycle path experience for me. A well thought out and put together video.

posted by eddgould [12 posts]
13th February 2013 - 16:20


You forgot the black cab driver shouting "GET IN THE BLOODY CYCLE LANE!"

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
13th February 2013 - 16:33


As someone who regularly cycles in greater Liverpool, I must admit that this pretty much resembles what I see day in day out when riding. Or at least it does when I'm not fighting to avoid potholes, maintain a line on poorly maintained roads, and have to deal with the odd inconsiderate driver for good measure. Back home in Trafford, its even worse, as there are pot holes in pot holes in the cycle lanes, and seemingly more inconsiderate drivers then here.

posted by pdows47 [111 posts]
13th February 2013 - 17:47


Simon_MacMichael wrote:
joemmo wrote:
someone has placed a speed limit sign for the road traffic bang in the middle of the bike lane. It was dark, he didnt see it, he ended up in hospital with a broken arm.

So the sign wasn't reflective and/or he didn't have a front light...?

Sign shouldn't have been there, but something doesn't quite add up.

I'd expect his front light was dipped, so as not to dazzle drivers, so didn't light the sign itself because it was in front of him, not to the left, and it was mounted on a non-reflective dull grey post like those in Chris Boardman's video. Easily done and all too common. Some councils even prefer black posts Confused

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
13th February 2013 - 18:38


Getting more people to cycle isn't rocket science, it is really very simple, so how come the people we elect to lead our country just don't get it?

posted by Kim [208 posts]
13th February 2013 - 20:45


It just go's to show that British Cycle lanes are often implemented by non cyclists with the aim of getting the bike out of the way of the cars rather than making a space on the road for cyclists. Sad

Fixedwheelnut's picture

posted by Fixedwheelnut [20 posts]
13th February 2013 - 23:46


Outside Geoffrey Butlers in South Croydon. Every metre counts towards the councils cycling infrastructure targets. Nice Brazilian colours scheme though!

Croydon bike lane small.jpg

posted by robert_obrien [120 posts]
14th February 2013 - 10:42


Smile Superb film. Good work CB and BC.

posted by Arno du Galibier [46 posts]
15th February 2013 - 11:57


Great video showing exactly why I think bike lanes should be scrapped.

Exactly this.

posted by andyp [1371 posts]
15th February 2013 - 12:04


Roberj4 wrote:
I'd love to know how much money Councils have scammed of the UK Gov/European Grants to develop safer cycling in inner cities to find the grant money gets spent else where.

That would make a great Freedom-of-Information request!

posted by Pub bike [129 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 18:00