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Cyclists 'endangering lives' by cycling on dual carriageways (say motorists)

Riders say nearby cycle paths are badly maintained - but they are 'swept annually'.....

A woman in Angus, Scotland, who took to Facebook to complain about cyclists riding on a stretch of dual carriageway has been slapped down by cycle campaigners who say that the nearby cycle paths are badly maintained.

Carnoustie woman Claudia Burgess saw the two cyclists on the A92 and took to Facebook to vent her frustration.

She posted: ''Why put yourself and other road users at risk.

''The road has a 70mph speed limit and if a lorry is in the nearside lane doing 50mph or 60mph and a car is passing on the outside lane, it won't leave much room for the cyclists.''

Dr Kevin Smith, a lecturer at Abertay University lecturer added to the criticism, telling The Courier: ''I have observed, as both a motorist and a cyclist on the adjacent path, cyclists on this stretch of road endangering their lives and frequently causing motorists to make a sudden, and hence potentially dangerous, manoeuvre to avoid them.

''It is such cyclists whose sanity seems to be in question. Moreover, given that the law prohibits cyclists from motorways, which seems only sensible to me even though I am greatly in favour of enabling cyclists' freedom in general, it would seem correct to prohibit cyclists from this motorway-like section of the A92 from Monifieth to Arbroath.''

The A92 is in fact a dual carriageway, which cyclists do have the right to use, although cars can travel on these roads at up to 70 mph.

The treasurer of Angus Cycling Club, Bryan Williams, argued back, saying that cyclists were well within their rights to ride on the roads, and blamed the poor state of cycle paths for forcing riders onto potentially dangerous roads.

He said: ''The state of the cycle paths in general is not good.''There is a lot of road debris and bits of glass on them, where you can risk a puncture and all sorts.''

''It's certainly not illegal [to ride on dual carriageways] but, on the whole, we tend to stay off busy roads, more for comfort than anything else,'' he said.

A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland, which looks after roads in the area said: ''We maintain the section of the A92 from Dundee to Arbroath and the cycle path is kept in good order.

''It is generally swept annually and local areas cleaned as and when necessary if broken glass or debris is noted during our regular inspections.

''Despite this some cyclists - particularly long-distance cyclists - prefer to travel on-road.''

Earlier this year we wrote about how a judge has been campaigning to keep cyclists off many A roads.

Judge Tonkin suggests that it would improve safety “to remove all cyclists from any dual-carriageway which is not subject to a speed limit of 30, or possibly 40, mph.”

He goes on to say, “This would not prevent cyclists from using dual-carriageways in urban areas but would take them away from some of our more dangerous trunk roads where traffic is both heavy and fast moving.

“Any cyclist, particularly a lone cyclist who is not wearing high-visibility clothing, is at huge risk on such roads from vehicles approaching from behind at a (legal) closing speed of up to 60 mph. At such a closing speed a relatively small and very vulnerable “object” is coming into view at the rate of 60ft per second and in a moment’s inattention irreparable damage is done.”

As Carlton Reid has pointed out, there are a few problems with this idea. Even if it only applies to dual-carriageway A roads, in some places such a road is the only way to get fro A to B. Judge Tonkin is effectively saying that non-urban cycling should be banned from such areas.

He also overlooks that it's already possible for A-roads to be restricted so that cyclists cannot use them, via traffic regulation orders.

What's more worrying than a judge forgetting that particular bit of the law, is his use of language. Judge Tonkin speaks of “huge risk”' but in fact the number of deaths of cyclists as a result of being hit from behind on an A-road is small. To solve the problem by banning cyclists from such roads, and to therefore set the precedent of overturning cyclists' general right to use the public highway, is using an atom bomb to crack a walnut.



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