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Council that rubbished "completely untrue" claims about controversial cycle lane being too wide set to begin work on next section

The local authority blamed "unfounded social media speculation" for rumours the route might need to be dug up again to make the road wider, with works on the next section of the ambitious project now set to begin...

The next stage of an ambitious 'Gloucestershire Cycle Spine' cycling infrastructure project, which will link major towns and cities in the county, is set to begin, works coming months on from the county council hitting back at "completely untrue" and "unfounded" social media speculation" about the project.

Gloucestershire County Council was responding to rumours that a part of the cycle lane on the B4063 was too wide and had made the road too narrow for vehicles, meaning it would need to be dug up again. However, Gloucestershire Live reports that the false claims were promptly rubbished by the local authority who said there was no such issue on the section between Brickhampton Golf Course and the Dowty traffic lights.

> Council refutes “unfounded social media speculation” that new “wide” cycle lane has made road too narrow for motorists

However, the words of assurance have not got through to certain sections of the community, some residents criticising the project ahead of the next set of works, due to begin on Monday.

B4063 project (Google Maps)

One resident who said there "is yet to be an influx of cyclists" added that the "project so far has caused nothing but problems and stress for people who live in the residential areas, people commuting, large vehicles and most importantly the emergency services as the lanes are not wide enough for emergency vehicles to be able to get through the middle".

"Whilst I appreciate it's essential for students and young children to have a safe cycle path to and from school it is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary that it has to be as wide as it's planned to be whilst making the roads narrower," they added.

Another local said the "ridiculously expensive" construction was off-putting, especially when the Cheltenham Road "is a major through road, with access needed for buses, coaches, the fire station nearby and ambulance station".

> Pop-up bike lanes don't slow ambulances according to… the ambulance service

The 26-mile 'cycle spine' will, once completed, offer a cycling and walking route across Gloucestershire, from Gloucester city centre to Bishop's Cleeve without a need to use main roads.

And the local press reports that there is a depth of public opinion that extends beyond just complaints about the reduced width of the road at one completed section.

B4063 project (Gloucestershire County Council)

"Glad some money is finally being spent on cycling infrastructure," one local said. "This might not have been my priority as a scheme but the whole point of investing in infrastructure is so that more people will feel safe enough to cycle. People seem to want to blame congestion on anything except what actually causes it — which is people driving."

Another added: "It's good to see this scheme progressing. Gloucestershire has so little cycling infrastructure. With more housing being built then congestion is only going to get worse if nothing is done."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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12 comments

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 months ago
12 likes

Ah, the old 'emergency vehicles can't get through'. Amazing the complainers didn't mention 'the disabled'. The local authority can't make any changes to infrastructure without consulting the emergency services. If the emergency services had an issue with the cycle lane they would have mentioned it in the statutory consultation 

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festina replied to BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 months ago
4 likes

The emergency services line is a red herring. Emergency vehicles can't get through because roads are clogged full of traffic. Drivers don't want to be seen to be part of the problem so they blame cycle lanes for there not being enough space. If they really feel this way then lets reduce space for cars even more and add an emergency vehicle lane

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chrisonabike replied to festina | 2 months ago
2 likes

Ah - but those (space inefficient) motor vehicles have to be there!  You can be sure every single driver has an unanswerable response to any question as to the necessity of their trip.

But that doesn't matter, because it's their "right".  I'm mocking but a) UK law and much of culture are fairly firmly on the side of "if it's not banned it's fine" and b) in practice although most trips driven are for leisure there is of course a sliding scale, with citizens having (sometimes quite essential) caring duties towards themselves and others.

Anyway it's the cycling infra which is making a change - so if there are any negative impacts at all, it's the fault of that (and we should rip it out).

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Hywel | 2 months ago
11 likes

I've ridden part of it, and the green surface is horrible on road bike tyres, even at 80psi.  However, the project is superb, and is just what's needed to encourage people out of their cars.

In Cheltenham, over 70% of journeys made by car are 1.2km or shorter.

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Gloucester_Dave replied to Hywel | 2 months ago
7 likes

Traffic is cheltenham is rubbish and cycling so much quicker. Also the cheltenham road is a looP thorigh a smaller village between Cheltenham and Gloucester - if you're in a hurry you'd use the laser straight A40 dual carriage way so don't believe the whiners!

I'm glad they're doing something but it's only nearly good, which given the money is a bit of a waste. There is next to no drainage so is full of puddles days after rain.  The green surface is awful to cycle on (some people reporting flats due to it) and the side roads where we have priority have a terrifying lack of visibility across them - I've had a couple of very near misses. It was so much better before they put the green rumble strip finish on! And the construction seems to go out its way to cause congestion. That said, better with it and much quicker than driving  

 

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belugabob replied to Gloucester_Dave | 2 months ago
5 likes

I see what you mean about the A40 - folks will moan about anything, in a desperate attempt to oust anything cycling telated

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jamesha100 replied to Gloucester_Dave | 2 months ago
6 likes

This is in my neck of the woods and I welcome it but it does seem to have made the road quite narrow but fine for buses/lorries to pass each other if driven sensibly. As stated above motorists have other options for getting between Gloucester and Cheltenham so this should only be carrying local traffic. One guy in my office commutes on the bike lane most days and loves it with a few reservations similar to those noted above. His frequency of cycling has trebled since the cycle lane was created. Most local sentiment is negative though as car use is very entrenched.

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ShaneDG replied to jamesha100 | 2 months ago
1 like

I had a quick look at the layout of the road on google and it does appear the old configuration was overly gernerous in terms of lane widths at the junctions.

DMRB allows for lanes as narrow as 2.5m at junctions and ghost islands. the current lanes appear to be the max 3.65m this means tou could safely "Steal" 1.3m for a wider cycle lane and still leave a comforatable 3m lane for each marked manoeuvre at that junction.

Also regarding emergency vehicles. The legal maximum width of a Fire Engine in the UK is 2.3m, ambulances are typically 2.0m so ample space in a 3.0m wide lane.

Lastly in the narrow road scenario the highway code recommends that you slow down and pull in to allow the vehicle to pass.

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Bungle_52 replied to Hywel | 2 months ago
3 likes

I used this route with my wife last weekend to get our seed potatoes from Dundry nurseries which is just off the route. I would not normally cycle using this route but my wife has become nervous of cycling on the road having had recent experiences of inconsiderate and intimidatory driving.

It made for a pleasant, leisurely ride not having to worry about drivers for the majority of the route from Bishops Cleeve. We used the racecourse to keep off the roads between Bishops Cleeve and Cheltenham then got on the Honeybourne line before joining this route near the station. It turned out a lot better than I expected.

This section is far from perfect. It looks like it hasn't been cleaned since it was put in (not a problem for us as we both have Marathon tyres) and there were a few puddles even though it has been dry for a good while (would be a problem in winter). The rumble strips are annoying. The give way signs for cars at side roads are encouraging but I wouldn't trust cars to stop. Traffic light timings didn't seem to favour cyclists which was a little frustrating. Then of course there were the obligatory parked cars but they were blocking the walkway rather then the cycle path. A few shared use bits which seemed quite narrow.

As for narrow lanes I didn't see any drivers having a problem and traffic was moving smoothly with very little speeding.

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wtjs | 2 months ago
15 likes

it is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary that it has to be as wide as it's planned to be whilst making the roads narrower

'I'm not against cyclists, as long as any provision for cyclists doesn't make the road narrower and I can't make up stories about traffic jams, pollution all being the fault of cyclists who are either too numerous or there aren't any at all so the cycleway was a waste of money, and anyway, ambulances...'

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brooksby | 2 months ago
7 likes

Quote:

One resident who said there "is yet to be an influx of cyclists"

Isn't the point of schemes like this to make it safer/easier for people not in cars to get around the county and/or between the towns?  I don't imagine that anyone - except "one resident" as quoted - seriously would think that hordes of cyclists would immediately descend on these new cycle routes, but rather that there might be a gradual increase over time as the few who do wish to cycle there safely get the word out.

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Surreyrider | 2 months ago
9 likes

I lived round there way back when and a cycle lane all the way from the city to Cleeve via Cheltenham would have been fantastic back then.

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