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Anti-cycle lane campaigners conga along seafront to protest new “Mickey Mouse” road layout

Opponents of Clevedon’s active travel scheme also claimed that “high speed lycra clad cyclists” pose a danger to children on the town’s new bike lane

Campaigners opposed to the installation of a segregated cycle lane and one-way system along Clevedon’s seafront formed a conga line at the weekend to protest against the new road layout, which they say has turned the North Somerset town into “Balamory from hell”.

On Sunday afternoon, around 300 activists paraded along the promenade as part of a protest organised by the ‘Save Our Seafront’ campaign, a local residents’ group demanding that North Somerset Council scrap its almost-completed initiative to create space for active travel and reconfigure parking in the town, SomersetLive reports.

The campaign’s latest demonstration was organised to highlight what it regards as the council’s “ridiculous” decision to paint ‘wavy’ lines on the new one-way road, which the local authority says will help reduce driving speeds as well as curbing the “potential abuse of parking” along the seafront.

> Controversial cycle lane roadworks blamed for “killing Christmas trade” 

As well as the new ‘wobbly’ lane, North Somerset Council’s plans to improve Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon also include the creation of a bidirectional 400-metre-long cycle lane, new cycle parking provision, widening the pavement along the seafront, and building parklets outside cafés.

Additional car parking has also been created at the eastern entrance of Hill Road to replace those spaces removed due to the installation of four new pedestrian crossings as well as loading bays to service local businesses.

The speed limit on the seafront and surrounding roads – where in September 2020 a cyclist sustained critical injuries in a collision involving a motorist – is to be reduced to 20mph, and it will also be made one-way.

According to the council, the scheme “aims to encourage more walking and cycling in the town” as part of its “commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles and tackling the climate emergency”. 

> Ex-cabinet minister Liam Fox protests against planned seafront bike lane funded by government money

However, while a public consultation found that 50 percent of locals supported the plans, compared to 42 percent who opposed the scheme, since the initiative was announced ‘Save Our Seafront’ has led a high-profile campaign against the redevelopment and penned a petition to the council which attracted over 6,000 signatures.

The Conservative MP for North Somerset and former cabinet minister Liam Fox is among the locals opposed to the measures, and in early 2022 tweeted that “huge numbers” joined a protest “on a cold and windy January day against North Somerset Council’s plans to destroy our seafront with a cycle lane that is neither needed, wanted, nor a good use of scarce resources.”

Last month, we reported that the roadworks required to finish the project have also been blamed for driving away customers from local shops and restaurants, and “killing Christmas trade” – despite most traders in the town declaring their support for the new active travel measures.

And now, Save Our Seafront has turned its attention to the newly painted road layout on the promenade – converted to a one-way street to allow for the installation of the bike lane – which has seen its wavy lines attract the attention of the national press, who have dubbed it a “snake lane” and a “driving lane for drink drivers”. 

North Somerset Council says the wavy lines are “a design feature to reduce the potential abuse of parking at these locations and help make the road feel narrower, which is a technique used to slow traffic speeds.”

“A wavy line provides uncertainty to the driver and is proven to help reduce unwanted parking,” a council spokesperson told the Metro last week

“Causing confusion to drivers is never a good idea”

Nevertheless, the unusual design has prompted the opponents of the scheme to renew their campaign with a fresh wave of protests and petitions claiming the layout will make the seafront more dangerous and harm businesses.

“The curving lines on Clevedon seafront are Mickey Mouse crazy. Causing confusion to drivers is never a good idea,” Save Our Seafront spokesperson Cathy Hawkins told SomersetLive.

“We are against the changes for many reasons and want the seafront to be put back to how it was. But we are primarily concerned about the safety issues, loss of parking, and the effect on local businesses in the area who are 100 percent against the scheme.

“We received safety information from North Somerset that shows, in the last five years, there have been only two personal injury accidents in the whole scheme area. This is an exceptionally good safety record and suggests the expression when auditing road schemes, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it’.

“Both accidents involved injury to non-motorised road users (one pedestrian and one cyclist), and the changes are likely to increase the potential risk for similar accidents of both natures.”

The activist, however, failed to acknowledge that one of those incidents, as noted above, involved a collision between a cyclist and a motorist, leaving the person on the bike with critical injuries.

Hawkins also told the local newspaper that the group has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, to ask whether any mechanisms are available to bring the scheme to a halt on safety grounds.

“We protested the changes on Sunday in the hope that North Somerset will at last listen and talk to us about our safety, parking concerns and the detrimental effect on trade for the local businesses,” Hawkins continued.

“We have begged them for over two years to meet and talk to us about this scheme, but they have always refused, and despite the leader of the council, Steve Bridger, saying that he will engage with the community and listen, he has failed to do so, even when we wrote to him personally to request a face to face meeting.

“This lack of engagement and our real concerns that the silly wriggly line making the seafront look like Blobby Land is dangerous for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians means we have had to take this direct action and have more actions planned.”

Soon after the wavy lines were revealed along the seafront last week, Conservative MP Fox once again criticised the initiative, which he dismissed as “not necessary”.

“A vast amount of public money is being spent to solve a problem which does not actually exist,” the former Secretary of State for International Trade said.

“We do not have major road safety issues on Clevedon seafront at present, despite it being a Victorian amenity. We will, however, have safety issues in the future as a result of the incompetent plans of the current North Somerset Council.

“The project is not popular, not safe, not affordable, not properly consulted upon and not necessary. It damages historic amenity, will disadvantage visitors, especially the elderly, will disrupt local trade and impede access to local residents.”

Sharing a post from Clevedon Conservatives highlighting the new road layout, the party’s Yatton branch also echoed Fox’s claims that the scheme will pose significant risks for locals, including the potential for “car doors opening into [the] cycle lane” and the apparent danger of “mixing high speed lycra clad cyclists with children”.

Responding to Sunday’s protest, North Somerset Council once again defended the layout and wavy lines, which it says are due to be finished with a surface treatment in the spring.

“Safety is a priority and a road safety audit was completed when the scheme was designed. There will also be a further one undertaken when it’s completed,” the spokesperson said.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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81 comments

Avatar
Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
3 likes

For anyone still interested Liam Fox is still not happy with Clevedon seafront cycle lane and has managed to secure a debate in parliament.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2023-03-09a.512.0&s=cycling#g...

Some comments about the wiggly lines being illegal, some concerns about drivers having to cross the cycle lane to get to the seafront after parking and complaints from the local pubs ad cafes about business being affected.

here are links to previous dicussions of this topic.

https://road.cc/content/news/liam-fox-protest-seafront-bike-lane-funded-...

https://road.cc/content/news/cycle-lane-roadworks-blamed-killing-christm...

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brooksby replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Liam Fox is one of those MPs where you constantly forget that he IS your MP (he's my MP).  It's depressing that of all the things wrong in this constituency he finds time to witter on about Clevedon seafront, but then much of the elderly population of that town are responsible for keeping him in office - pin a blue rosette on a donkey (or an ass!) and they'd vote for it...

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NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
1 like

Clevedon seafront road markings mysteriously vanish leaving locals baffled

https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/clevedon-seafront-road...

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brooksby replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
2 likes

Quote:

Concerns had previously been raised about the width of the 'buffer zone' with people fearing people exiting their cars risked walking into the path of cyclists using the lane.

Yeah, because it's the people getting out of their cars into the cycle lane who are most likely to be hurt... 

More likely, someone measured a car door and realised that they were creating a marked door(ing) zone...

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NOtotheEU replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

From what I can tell from the picture they've removed the part at the top of the hill where there was no buffer zone at all. That starts lower down and it seemed just about OK to me, although more is always better.

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brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

North Somerset Council's cycle forum recently met.  This is an extract from the minutes, regarding the Clevedon thing:

Quote:

[There was a] Consultation 18 months ago, econsult, social media, posters and worked with variety of stakeholders.

Concept design changed to take on board feedback i.e. New bus stop outside pier, driveway entrances.

Parking moved from echelon to parallel parking.

1000 responses 50% in favour, 42% against.

Note national press this week, mainly about the ‘wiggly line’.

Support remains from Pier Trust, ward member, leader and exec member

The short stretch of “wavy line” at the roadside is a design feature that discourages parking by the pedestrian crossing points.

The markings are not yet complete and once the road’s top buff coloured surface has been applied, full effect will be realised.

As good weather is needed to lay and dry the buff surface, this work will be carried out in the spring.

Will open the prom for those arriving by car, foot and cycle. 

Once Pier to Pier Way is open it will be well used and make clear sense. 

Bus stop is being moved. 

Nationally [this is] not an unusual scheme, local opposition has raised press interest. 

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Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago
1 like

You can imagine the numbers of doddery old puffins who'll be walking zombiesque amongst the cycle lanes. They wouldn't do it on the road, where they'll quickly turn into road kill.
But these puffins are happy to block up the cycle lanes with their rubber necking and dog lead n ice cream dropping carnage.

Progress is dead in these backward places.

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David9694 | 1 year ago
3 likes

"Controversial" = a few drivers don't like it. 

This is among the stories We've been featuring on Drivers and Their Problems. This article turns out to be a meeting of Clevedon Town Council's Highways Committee - a non-story, then.  

Controversial seafront road scheme to come back under spotlight

Campaigners formed a conga line in protest against the changes last week

https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/controversial-seafront...

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Bob L | 1 year ago
8 likes

I live about half a mile from this, so needless to say I've been following closely and trying to debunk most of the anti cyling arguments.  The basic drama people have with the changes is less parking and the fact that you cant sit in a car and look out to sea without turning your head, now the parking is parallel to the beach - thats it.  Appartenly the changes ruin the victorian seafront (not sure cars were around in victorian times but hey-ho).  Brilliantly the campaigners feel the project is a waste of tax payers money, but want further public investment to change it back to how it was.  And as for the wiggly line, looks wierd, seems to work - everytime someone drives past, they go "WTF" and slow down. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Bob L | 1 year ago
5 likes

Bob L wrote:

The basic drama people have with the changes is less parking and the fact that you cant sit in a car and look out to sea without turning your head, now the parking is parallel to the beach - thats it.  

Brilliant! One of the arguments put forward, in all seriousness, against restricting cars in Richmond Park to the boundary carparks (with suitable exemptions for the disabled) was that the central car parks (Pen Ponds and Isabella Plantation) have better views, so it wouldn't be fair on people who like to drive up there, eat their lunch in the car and then drive home again.

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OnYerBike replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes

Ditto for Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.

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David9694 replied to Bob L | 1 year ago
2 likes

Who's initiative actually is this - North Somerset or Clevedon Town Council?

Whichever, I'm glad they have stuck their guns throughout the whingeing by the noisy few.  Perhaps this year I'll come and see it for myself. 

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
0 likes

Surely if these protesters wanted to complain about something, the hideous pink building should be first on their list?

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David9694 replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
1 like

That was the Ballamory bit. 

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AltBren | 1 year ago
0 likes

Those wiggly lines are horrible though.. If more parking isn't appropriate, would orange no parking not be better..?

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brooksby replied to AltBren | 1 year ago
5 likes

AltBren wrote:

Those wiggly lines are horrible though.. If more parking isn't appropriate, would orange no parking not be better..?

Locals would probably complain that it wasn't an appropriately Victorian colour...  3

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AltBren replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

It does seem that if the lines went, the none mentalist protesters would too..

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hutchdaddy | 1 year ago
2 likes

Clevedon seems to be such a sad place, Liam Fox is just making it all sadder.

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pockstone replied to hutchdaddy | 1 year ago
1 like

I wish Liam Fox and his ilk had restricted themselves to making Clevedon a sadder place. It's a shame they felt the need to shit on the whole country.
(No disrespect to the people of Clevedon but they did vote for him.)

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Fursty Ferret | 1 year ago
6 likes

Looking at the picture in his tweet suggests a particularly narrow demographic that's complaining about it. I thought organised protests against new infrastructure were outlawed by this government. Has anyone told him?

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Car Delenda Est replied to Fursty Ferret | 1 year ago
4 likes

Yes how criminally disruptive of them

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Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
3 likes

Observations. This is part of the new pier to pier way which puts it into context. On it's own it would be 500m of isolated cycle path. It's only taken 41 years so far.

https://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/business/regeneration-development/pier-pie...

There are now bike stands where the wavey lines are so presumably they are an attempt to stop motorists parking by them and blocking their use.

I went to see it last friday. Construction still going on. It was blowing a gale and we were turned away from two cafes on the sea front as they were full up, as were two brave cyclists. Obviously business is really suffering.

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Awavey replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
2 likes

On it's own I'd agree it does look very silly, but I appreciate it's not finished yet and so wouldnt be as concerned how it looks now as those individuals.

But I think its clearly a failure on someones part, in the council,to adequately communicate the changes and how this will fit in overall when completed.

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Car Delenda Est replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes

When NIMBYs complain about something on a purely aesthetic level it's generally thinly veiled racism or classism. Clearer communication would only help them organise against it.

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Mungecrundle replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
4 likes

I've been to a few local meetings concerning solar farms and changes to local roads. I can assure you that no amount of clarity and reasoned explanation will make the slightest impression on those who have already decided what fits their agenda.

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brooksby replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
2 likes

Bungle_52 wrote:

There are now bike stands where the wavey lines are so presumably they are an attempt to stop motorists parking by them and blocking their use.

Which makes them make more sense.

Reading some of the newspaper comments, it almost seems that people were expecting that they'd have to drive in a wavy route past them (staying a constant distance from the white line) 

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Rik Mayals unde... | 1 year ago
13 likes

It always makes me laugh when I hear the term, 'lycra clad'. What about 'jodhpur clad' horse riders? Or 'lead clad' dogs? Or 'shorts clad' runners? Or 'rucksack clad' hikers? Or 'High Viz clad' road workers? 'Uniform clad' police officers? We never hear those. Could the 'lycra clad' term could be classed as hate speech?

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Organon replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
4 likes

It would make a terrible cladding material anyway. Norwegian Spruce with a carbonized finish would be better.

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Car Delenda Est replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
3 likes

MPs, especially Tory ones, should be focusing on the illegal flammable cladding clad tower blocks that have remained since Grenfell.

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Browsie replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
7 likes

You forgot to mention the most " self important" group of all, the 'metal clad drivers'🤔.

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