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Is it a wide bike lane? Is it a parking bay? Confusion reigns in Loughborough

Council perplexes drivers with unusually generous cycling space

Leicestershire County Council has caused a bit of confusion by painting sensibly-wide cycle lanes in Loughborough, but perhaps marking them less clearly than they could have. As a result, drivers are mistaking them for parking bays.

Cynics might say that too many drivers think bike lanes are some sort of parking facility anyway, but in this case there’s good reason.

The advisory lanes – marked with a broken line – are in Fennel Street and Lemyngton Street and are 1.5m wide. The council says that’s a standard width; given the teensy bike lanes in many places, that implies there are as many standards for bike lanes as there are for headsets.

According to the Loughborough Echo, the lanes get wider along Lemyngton Street, which was widened last year as part of the construction on the Inner Relief Road in the town centre.

The width of the lane and lack of parking restrictions means it’s easily mistaken for parking space.

One motorist, who asked not to be named, told the Echo the spaces looked wider than regular cycle lanes, and said: “I was surprised to see parking because it’s going to be such a busy road with heavy traffic but there were white lines on both sides of the road and cars were parked down both sides so I assumed they were parking spaces.

“Every day from 7.30am these parking spaces are full and the same cars are still parked there later in the day.”


Lemyngton Street before widening (©Google StreetView)

Google StreetView shows that Lemyngton Street had double yellow lines in the spot where the Echo’s photograph of cars parked in the lanes was taken.


The new parking space bike lanes on Lymington Street (© Loughborough Echo)

However, round the corner in Fennel Street the continuation of the lane already has double yellow lines and drivers are still parking in it.

The council says the lanes were painted on September 25 last year, and it intends Lymington Street to be no waiting and no loading at any time. New traffic regulation orders will be advertised in Febriuary and, along with double yellow lines, will come into action in spring.

Perhaps the council will also consider marking the cycle lanes with the solid white line that designates a mandatory lane, and help reduce confusion.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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