Hertfordshire County Council says bike lanes on narrow roads result in more close passes

A council has said it won’t reinstate cycle lanes on a road it has just resurfaced – because the narrowness of the carriageway puts cyclists in danger if the lanes were in place.

In a tweet posted yesterday, Hertfordshire County Council said: “Following a safety review, we won't be replacing the cycle lanes in North Road, Hertford after the recent resurfacing.

“Our safety engineers found the narrow cycle lanes were doing more harm than good, by encouraging drivers to pass too close to cyclists.”

A section of the A119 North Road was resurfaced last month between St Andrew Street and the roundabout with the B1000 Welwyn Road, while in May, similar works were carried out on the section of the A119 between Hertford and Watton-at-Stone.

The council’s view that the bike lanes put cyclists at risk ties in with the findings of a study from Australia that we reported on back in April.

> Painted cycle lanes result in closer passes by motorists finds study

The study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, followed 60 regular bike commuters in Melbourne.

Their bikes were fitted with a device called a ‘MetreBox'  to calculate the distance drivers gave when overtaking.

Among the findings was that passing events that happened on a road with a painted bike lane or a parked car had an average passing distance 40cm less than on a road without a bike lane or parked car.

Lead author Dr Ben Beck, Monash University's Deputy Head of Prehospital, Emergency and Trauma Research, said: "Our results demonstrate that a single stripe of white paint is not sufficient to protect people who ride bikes.

"In situations where the cyclist is in the same lane as the motorist, the driver is required to perform an overtaking manoeuvre.

“Whereas in situations where the cyclist is in a marked bicycle lane, the motorist has a clear lane ahead and not required to overtake.

“As a result, we believe that there is less of a conscious requirement for drivers to provide additional passing distance."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.