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Cyclist says motorists should be prevented from parking in bike lane “before someone gets killed”

Paul Harris was injured after colliding with a cycle lane separator on Middlesborough’s Linthorpe Road, two months after a 78-year-old pedestrian tripped on one of the markers

A cyclist has criticised the layout of a new cycle lane in Middlesbrough, which he claims forces people on bikes to “constantly” dodge parked cars, buses and pedestrians, after he was hospitalised following a crash on the controversial route.

On Monday afternoon, 50-year-old Paul Harris was thrown over his handlebars after colliding with a cycle lane separator on the Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough. The cyclist was then taken to hospital, where he received treatment for a bruised and protruding collarbone and three stitches above his left eye.

The 50-year-old’s nasty spill comes less than two months after a 78-year-old woman was left with a broken wrist, a black eye and concussion after tripping over one of the bike lane markers on the same road.

The separators, known as ‘Orcas’, form part of the newly installed cycle lane on the Linthorpe Road, which Middlesbrough Council hopes will provide cyclists with a “quick and safe” route into the town centre while also creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment with improved road crossings.

> Pensioner left with broken wrist and black eye after tripping over cycle lane separator 

However, the new low ‘Orca’ barriers, though designed to protect cyclists from motorists through ‘light segregation’, have come in for criticism from those who say they aren’t large enough to deter drivers from entering the cycle lane, while still being of sufficient size to be a hazard for people on bikes.

Teesside Live reports that the recent spate of incidents involving both cyclists and pedestrians on the new bike lane has prompted Middlesbrough Council to confirm earlier this week that, in response to “public feedback”, it is replacing the rubber dividers with upright poles in order to “reduce the potential trip hazard to pedestrians”. The installation of the new wands – which the council hopes will make the cycle lane more visible to all road users – will commence on 14 November.

Orca lane divider (image via North East Motorcycle Action Group)

Orca lane divider (image: North East Motorcycle Action Group)

However, cyclist Paul, who says he has ridden his bike on the Linthorpe Road for years without any issues, has claimed that a more comprehensive overhaul of the new cycle lane – which he notes is still littered with parked motor vehicles – is required “before someone gets killed”.

Responding to the council’s decision to introduce more visible upright wands, the 50-year-old told Teesside Live: “No, I don't think it’ll help, that’s just extra money that they’re going to waste time on. Even if they decided to put a stretch of lights down Linthorpe Road as they do at Blackpool Illuminations, there would still be a problem.

“The problem with the cycle route is that cars are still parking there, delivery drivers are still parking there, and the bus stops are still there, you have to cycle over the bumps to pass the bus stop so you’re constantly checking the traffic.

“It’s a cycle lane, it’s not meant for cars to park along and it’s not for pedestrians to walk up and down.”

Paul continued: “The council should be going around and speaking to the public to see what we think of it first, or show us diagrams of what the cycle will look like. But they don’t, instead they just build it, spend all that money on it and then when there have been accidents they take it away.

“Well to me that’s too little too late. Why should somebody get hurt just for the council to then turn around and say they’ll take it away? If people keep getting hurt in all these accidents, then they never should have built it in the first place.”

> Cycle lane will be "clear getaway" for shoplifters and drug dealers, business owners claim 

Announcing the changes to the cycle lane on the Linthorpe Road, a spokesperson for Middlesbrough Council earlier this week said: “The Linthorpe Road cycle lane is similar to schemes in other towns and cities, and is part of an approach that will deliver an efficient and sustainable transport system that benefits all road users.

“The feedback from cyclists has been overwhelmingly positive, but such changes take time to bed in, and we always welcome the views of road users and pedestrians. In response to the feedback received, the decision has been taken to replace half of the rubber markers with upright poles to improve visibility.

“The work will be carried out overnight to minimise disruption, and we’re grateful to members of the public and local businesses for their patience and understanding.”

Ryan joined 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 Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’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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Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago


Gosh, who'd a thought it:


A Lay Bah Council. A LAYYYY Bah Council.


lesterama replied to Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago

Yawn. A lot of councils are crap, unfortunately.

Matthew.W replied to Flintshire Boy | 1 year ago

Flintshire Boy wrote:

Gosh, who'd a thought it:

A Lay Bah Council. A LAYYYY Bah Council.

It is actually a direct-elected mayoral unitary authority. The current mayor, like his predecesor, is declared as an independent but has a background in investment banking and fund management.

swldxer | 1 year ago


brooksby replied to swldxer | 1 year ago


HoarseMann replied to swldxer | 1 year ago
Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

If I've read the responses from the consulation the council should be congratulated in pushing through the lane against considerable opposite - only to score a spectacular own goal by discussing Wands and then placing Orca's instead.

(This is my interpretation - happy to be corrected by a local).

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