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Police officer: cycle path too risky to use with family

Ch Insp Mark Evans says a cycle path along the A38 near Bristol, which crosses a motorway slip road, has been built without thought to safety

A senior police officer has said he wouldn’t put his family at risk by using a cycle track, which crosses a motorway slip road, with them.

Ch Insp Mark Evans was invited by cycle campaigner, Richard Burton, to cycle on a shared path alongside the A38 from Almondsbury to Aztec West near Bristol.

However the route crosses a roundabout at the entrance to an M5 slip road with no traffic lights for pedestrians and Ch Insp Evans says deciding when to cross requires “an educated guess” to avoid traffic entering the motorway.

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He said the cycle provision has been put in on this route without enough thought of safety.

“The actual cycle track is too narrow for traffic to come both ways, it’s only suitable for bikes, not for bikes and pedestrians. It forces bikes out onto the road. If I was with a family would I use it? No I wouldn’t put my family at risk using those cycle paths,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

“I’m an experienced cyclist and personally I’d use the road, it seems safer for me to use the road than it does to use the cycle routes designed for cycles.”

He said at the point allocated for crossing it’s not possible to see the traffic lights on the roundabout, so cyclists and pedestrians have to make an “educated guess” about when to cross the motorway junction.

Highways England, the new government-owned company responsible for Britain’s main roads, has been given £100m to “cycle proof” the core road network, so that those on bikes can more easily use main roads without mixing with traffic. This work, announced earlier this year includes cycle lanes and crossings created and improved at nine motorway junctions.

It appears the shared route along the A road has been resurfaced as part of Highways England's work on Junction 16, but nothing has been done to improve the painted crossing at the motorway slip road, which is faded. 

Sean Walsh, south west cycling champion for Highways England, said: “Safety is the top priority for Highways England and we work closely with vulnerable road user groups, including cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, to ensure that we accommodate their needs.

“We encourage sustainable modes of transport and the valuable role they can play in reducing congestion and ultimately pressure on the strategic road network.

“On that basis we are looking to remove any barriers posed to cyclists by our road network.

“We are currently looking at undertaking work at the roundabout under junction 16, and we have been working with local partners in South Gloucestershire and the South Gloucestershire Cycle Forum.

“Progress is being made and we will be able to provide further information in the very near future."

Sam Jones, from Cycling UK, told “I think we would agree with the Inspector Mark Evans, that this doesn’t look like a particularly well thought-out or safe cycling infrastructure as it abandons the cyclist at the point where they need most help – at a junction.”

According to the BBC a Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said the crossing “met national guidance”, but conceded it is “not designed for family cycling” and the recommended route for “less confident cyclists” is a different shared use path off the carriageway.

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