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Rider says people could sue if they were injured; luckily he wasn't...

A cyclist in Cambridge who came off his bike when he hit a telegraph pole embedded in the cycle path has blamed the council for a ‘cock up’ in leaving it there.

Andrew Fowler, 51, said that when he clipped the pole with his handlebars in the early hours of the morning, he fell off, landing on his backpack.

He said he wasn’t injured, but feared another similar incident could be a lot worse.

As can be seen in the photograph on Cambridge News’s website, the path is wide, with at least a metre and a half’s clearance on one side, but Mr Fowler claims it cannot be seen in the dark.

Cambridge Council has said it will be removed, and in the meantime has applied reflective tape to make it more visible.

Mr Fowler said: “Why has it got a telegraph pole in the middle. For the amount of money couldn’t they have moved it to the grass? I think they’re scrimping and saving too much. It’s dangerous, especially in the dark.

“They seem to have rushed into it. When you plan something like that, surely someone should say,’hang on, there’s a telegraph pole there, surely that could be a problem’, but no one seems to have thought of it.

“It’s a total council cock-up. It’s something they need to look at.”

It’s not clear whether Mr Fowler had lights on his bike at the time, but when he returned to the site with a photographer from the local paper, he was not sporting any.

He added: “It was a few days ago and it was raining.

“A car went past and its lights were on. I couldn’t really see properly and I was totally disorientated.

“I was going quite quick...Luckily I wasn’t hurt but it could have been a lot worse.

“It’s fair to say if someone is hurt there may be a claim there.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesmen said: “The pole was an existing one which will be moved to a location within the grass verge before the final surface of the cycle path is laid.

“We are working with the utility company responsible for it to organise its relocation as soon as possible.

“In the meantime our contractors have applied reflective and warning tape to the pole to alert riders to beware and we would always urge cyclist to be aware of hazards and obstructions as all times when using cycle paths.”

It’s not Mr Fowler’s first encounter with the authorities over road safety.  In 2010 he claimed that Gatso speed cameras were likely to issue false speeding tickets in freezing weather.

After being caught driving at 41mph in a 30mph zone in Cambridge he said the cameras were only calibrated for accuracy between 0*C and 70*C, and at lower temperatures vital timing circuitry is slowed inside the unit.

It’s unknown whether his Crown Court appeal was successful, but given that it would have opened the floodgates for other similar appeals had it been upheld, it seems unlikely that it was.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

18 comments

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tourdelound [169 posts] 3 years ago
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Seems par for the course, for cycle lanes in the UK.

In the area where I live, we have a mature tree, road sign posts, and even a 6*6*4ft concrete block obstructing various "DEDICATED" cycle ways, as well as the obligatory motor vehicles, that the police have absolutely no inclination to ticket or get moved.

 102

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jova54 [676 posts] 3 years ago
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Shock News!!! "Stupid cyclist blames someone else for his problem".

Looks like the council have been trying to improve the infrastructure and are waiting on a certain telecommunications company to do their bit.

If you hit a stationary object in the dark either you should slow down or get some better lights.

I'm glad to hear the telegraph pole wasn't injured in the encounter with Mr Fowler.

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Paul M [363 posts] 3 years ago
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jova54 wrote:

Shock News!!! "Stupid cyclist blames someone else for his problem".

Looks like the council have been trying to improve the infrastructure and are waiting on a certain telecommunications company to do their bit.

If you hit a stationary object in the dark either you should slow down or get some better lights.

I'm glad to hear the telegraph pole wasn't injured in the encounter with Mr Fowler.

I do wonder whether this is a wind-up. The telegraph pole clearly should have been wearing high vis, because heaven forfend that drivers (so to speak) should be expected to be able to see it anyway. Sounds like a clear case of victim-blaming to me.

And when was the last time you saw a telegraph pole in the middle of a road? Apart, that is, from a spoof website put up by one of those "crap cycle lanes of.." compilers?

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clwydrider [17 posts] 3 years ago
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Sounds like the cyclepath was not complete as it states the final surface is not laid. If it's a bt pole I can understand the delay as they are a nightmare to work with. They will charge a four figure sum just to survey the site and give you a quote to move the pole! I am sorry but you run into a stationary object generally it's your fault

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davkt [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Lucky it wasn't a kid he ran into if can't stop or take avoiding action in what his lights show him!

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Arthur Scrimshaw [68 posts] 3 years ago
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There's a concrete bollard in the centre of a cycle path on my commute, I'm aware of one rider who has hit this, luckily without serious injury. It's at a road junction so easy to see how he could have been distracted?

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felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
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Its interesting to try to imagine this incident happening to a car, and resulting comments.
It's a bit of a leap, because it is inconceivable that a road would be built with a solid obstacle in the middle of it. However, there are incidents when drivers do silly things, like running off the road at a tight corner, Round here in the Fens they occasionally drive into rivers.
If a driver does something like this the call is to remove the bend, or put up barriers on the river bank. Highwayment even try to move road furniture, like lampposts or bus shelters to the back of the pavement. Even "dangerous" roadside trees are removed.
The basis idea is to make the roads safer for idiot drivers.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1793 posts] 3 years ago
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On the one hand - yes the modern way is to blame the authorities for every accident you have, which is a bit of a shame . But on the other hand, it is, indeed, inconceivable that a road would have been open for use with something like that in the middle of it.

But what bemuses me is, I'm sure I only read something on the web just the other day highlighting exactly this telegraph pole path as a farcical facility that someone would probably crash into in the dark.

Also, if this were to be reported in the way that cyclist/lorry interfaces are in the media*, it surely would be headlined "telegraph pole collides with cyclist".

* e.g. http://www.itv.com/news/london/story/2013-09-26/cyclist-collides-with-lo...

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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You should see the absolute Incompetent balls up Barrow District Council have made of the cycle path around the docks ... bloody disgrace ! Absolutely no common sense thinking at all.

steel posts painted black in the middle of the path, badly placed gates, and barriers painted battleship grey with no reflective signs . . . and that's by no means all,

I think they do it on the cheap so they look good with x number of miles of cycle routes, don't seem to matter if they are safe, useable or full of parked cars!  14

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Goldfever4 [325 posts] 3 years ago
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I hope the telegraph pole wasn't damaged by this chump's enormous thick head...

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Dizzy [68 posts] 3 years ago
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For the past year all the old concrete lamposts in this area have been replaced with metal ones.
They have just put one about 2 feet into the middle of a shared use cycle path, right on a very tight corner. The old concrete one was recessed into a wall. The posts are painted dark green & hard to see in the dark, you now couldn't have 2 bikes pass each on that stretch, so if a rider was to come round the bend with either another cyclist or a pedestrian oncoming, It is an accident waiting to happen.
Really don't think council planner actually use their brains sometimes

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sm [405 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh dear, it really is silly season for cyclists. I'd say I'm embarrassed to be a cyclist but I think this is more a case of worrying for the intellect of the human race!

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andyp [1501 posts] 3 years ago
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'so if a rider was to come round the bend with either another cyclist or a pedestrian oncoming...'

....they could use their brakes?

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gazza_d [471 posts] 3 years ago
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I would bet my dinner on no plans to move the pole before the complaint and press coverage.

We had a pavement along a dual carriageway widened and converted to shared use last year.

I complained to the authority's cycling officer as lampposts etc were (and are) still within the width of the path and was informed that it would have been too expensive to move them. I was also told that since they were at the side they should not pose a risk. It does effectively turn a 2metre path into a 1.5 metre though, which is cheating quite a bit.

Half baked and lazy designs like this are all over and just demonstrate that cycling is not taken seriously.

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dp24 [204 posts] 3 years ago
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We've got a new shared-use one they've 'finished' near us in the last 6 months. The side of the path marked for cycles is dotted with lampposts, road signs and telegraph poles.

Yes this guy is a bit of an idiot, but it's a perfect example of the half-arsed infrastructure we're 'blessed' with in this country.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 3 years ago
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Dizzy wrote:

For the past year all the old concrete lamposts in this area have been replaced with metal ones.
They have just put one about 2 feet into the middle of a shared use cycle path, right on a very tight corner. The old concrete one was recessed into a wall. The posts are painted dark green & hard to see in the dark,

Doesn't the bloomin great lamp help?

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Al__S [1254 posts] 3 years ago
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The path wasn't finished- not final surface, and a bit further on still mud. Pretty daft that the pole wasn't moved before they started building, and the contractor really should have cordoned off a path that wasn't finished.

Regardless, you'd have to be a right prat to trundle into the pole like this pillock

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WolfieSmith [1382 posts] 3 years ago
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It took me 5 years to get a 10 yards stretch of a cycle lane restored after a utility company dug it up and failed to replace it afterwards. The council were adamant that they had to identify the ulitilities company and get them to make good - but with no records that would probably not happen.... The local cycle officer was next to useless too.

This lazy stalemate was finally broken by getting a councillor involved who kicked the council highway department firmly up the arse and got the lane rebuilt, with drop kerbs, within a month.

The lesson here? Don't waste time talking to council employees. They are on the whole mindless or malicious in their procrastination. Seek out your local councillor who needs the votes and perhaps a local newspaper photo opportunity and get them to deal with the reptiles for you.

As for the accident being the cyclist's fault. Good on him I say. I've threatened to fall off and sue over loose gravel on local road repairs. It's amazing how quickly it was swept once there was written records of a potential hazard with a quick fix solution.