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Newcastle motorcyclists claim 'Orca' cycle lane separators could prove lethal

Similar products known as Armadillos have previously come in for criticism from cyclists

The North East Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) says that lane dividers installed along Great North Road in Gosforth could result in someone being killed. Newcastle City Council has installed the ‘Orcas’ to separate a cycle lane from the road.

On its website, the group describes the Orcas as “narrow humped back obstructions on the flat road surface that have not been passed for use by the Department of Transport.” The group suggests that any motorcyclist or scooter rider who hits one “will at best be thrown to the ground and at worst killed by forcing them into collision with another motor vehicle.”

Chronicle Live reports that MAG has called for a meeting with councillors to discuss the issue.

Katalina Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the group, said: “It’s mad. In order to try and protect cyclists from cars they have sacrificed the safety of motorcyclists and scooterists by reducing their available road space and then throwing obstacles in their way. In Manchester, where these were trialled, even the cyclists are against them.”

Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester has documented many of the places in which similar lane dividers, known as 'Armadillos', have been employed in the city, and as you might have gathered from the blog’s title, it hasn’t been entirely complimentary. Criticisms include that they aren’t large enough to deter drivers while still being of sufficient size to be a hazard for cyclists; that they can be hard to see; and that they aren’t particularly durable.

A Newcastle City Council spokeswoman described the Orca separators as ‘light segregation’ and admitted that they are not approved by the Department for Transport (DfT).

“No segregation would mean that only the white line was provided, and this is only sufficient on quieter or lightly trafficked streets. On busier roads, this provides no physical protection to cyclists, and would not encourage increased usage of safer cycling infrastructure as is the aim of the safety fund that paid for these changes.

“While these orcas do not require DfT approval, there is a legal requirement for the cycle lane separator to be installed behind a continuous white line at the edge of the carriageway, which clearly indicates a mandatory cycle lane.

“The DfT’s view is that such items are considered as street furniture, in a similar way to bollards or guardrail, which could also be placed behind the edge of the carriageway without any approval required.”

The spokeswoman said that a risk assessment had been carried out for various different measures and that no evidence had been found to suggest that this form of lane divider should not be considered on the grounds of potential health and safety concerns.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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