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Cycling group insists much-criticised "glaring mistake" bike lane is actually a "non-issue"

Confused locals shared pictures of the new infrastructure, which features a pedestrian crossing post and a bench in the middle of the shared-use route

A new cycle lane in Southampton has prompted much ridicule online, with local residents and some cyclists dismayed at pictures which emerged of the infrastructure, complete with pedestrian crossing post and a bench in it. However, a local cycling campaign group has said it is "basically a non-issue".

Works on the cycling infrastructure on Radstock Road and Manor Road South were completed at the end of last month, local paper The Daily Echo the first to publish residents' concerns and photos of the route. Since then more images have emerged on social media, mainly of the bench seemingly installed on the cycle route, and a zebra crossing post also in the middle of the infrastructure, just metres from where a bike is painted on the newly laid surface.

Conservative councillor Jeremy Moulton described "installing a bench in the middle of a cycle lane in Woolston" as "bonkers" and accused the Labour-run council of "mad transport schemes".

Another post commented on and shared by hundreds of residents sparked discussion, one reply saying "I like the way they've put the light right in the middle of the lane", another suggesting "cyclists better have their wits about them".

Radstock Road cycling infrastructure, Southampton (Josephine Northover/Facebook)

[Josephine Northover/Facebook]

The confusion continued in a group called 'I would cycle in Southampton if...' that is dedicated to "gathering as many members as possible to prove to Southampton City Council that the people of Southampton do want to cycle on a regular basis, and would cycle far more often if a well thought out cohesive cycling infrastructure was built".

"I looked at it yesterday... I just don't understand," one member said, sharing the picture below.

Radstock Road cycling infrastructure, Southampton (William Hoof Roberts/Facebook)

[William Hoof Roberts/Facebook]

"What I find odd," another member replied. "Is the line down the middle. If it's actually a shared surface. Surely the line implies to people that bikes stay right, people go left, but that isn't actually the rule and the design, with a pole in the right-hand 'lane forces cyclists to the left. Feels like it's going to create unnecessary conflict."

"A non-issue"

However, addressing the situation, the Southampton Cycling Campaign told road.cc it is "basically a non-issue" and that the infrastructure is "just a crossing to connect old paths to a route to the station and for kids to get to school".

"Yes, the markings for shared-use could be clearer with bike markings in the middle. The shared-use is just a short section so the crossing can be used from both sides and in all directions. The confusion is partly the previous kerb-line, but Southampton City Council has agreed to put more of the 'share with care' signs or similar on the ground.

"Southampton is doing well with cycle infrastructure, considering the usual restrictions. We've got officers who actually cycle and they have achieved a lot," a spokesperson for the group told us, referring to the city council's clarification that the entire short section with the zebra crossing is shared-use, and is not segregated into cyclists one side, pedestrians on the other.

A spokesperson for the council also said that while the bench and crossing indicator will not be removed from the route, the "markings will be amended to make this even clearer".

"The new parallel pedestrian and cycle crossing provides a safer route to the nearby St Patrick's Catholic Primary and Ludlow Infant and Junior Schools and is raised to help slow speeds," the council said in a statement.

"The pavement south-east of the junction has been widened with new seating and greening provided. This area is now a shared-use path, meaning people can use the whole area on foot or by bike.

"The cycle symbol on the pavement was installed alongside the shared-use signage to make it clear cyclists are permitted on this section of former footway, now a shared area which is dissected by the old kerb line. The markings will be amended to make this even clearer."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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15 comments

Avatar
Simon Black | 8 months ago
0 likes

Of course it's a non-issue - cyclists rarely use the cycle paths that are built for them, they'll just ride in the road. It all boils to down to councils wasting money on cycle paths and cycle lanes, half of the lycra clad tour de France wannabes won't use a purpose built cycle path or lane and would rather risk their lives and ride 2 or 3 abreast in the road anyway.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Simon Black | 8 months ago
5 likes
Simon Black wrote:

Of course it's a non-issue - cyclists rarely use the cycle paths that are built for them, they'll just ride in the road. It all boils to down to councils wasting money on cycle paths and cycle lanes, half of the lycra clad tour de France wannabes won't use a purpose built cycle path or lane and would rather risk their lives and ride 2 or 3 abreast in the road anyway.

If the cycle lanes are poorly built/designed then cyclists are going to avoid them. My personal non-starter is when cycle lanes cede priority at all the side roads, but you don't if you stay in the main traffic flow.

If you compare well thought out facilities in other countries, you'll find that most cyclists use them. It's almost as if cyclists know what's best for them.

Avatar
ktache replied to hawkinspeter | 8 months ago
6 likes

Careful, feeding it will just encourage it...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Simon Black | 8 months ago
2 likes

Don't worry!  Either natural (or artificial...?) selection will take out the entitled who're just out for a jolly, or there'll be a national gridlock / collapse of the power system / we'll all be underwater and no-one will be driving.  So either way the issue will resolve itself.

Wait a minute - did I just say the same thing twice?

Avatar
polainm replied to Simon Black | 8 months ago
3 likes

Simon Black wrote:

Of course it's a non-issue - cyclists rarely use the cycle paths that are built for them, they'll just ride in the road. It all boils to down to councils wasting money on cycle paths and cycle lanes, half of the lycra clad tour de France wannabes won't use a purpose built cycle path or lane and would rather risk their lives and ride 2 or 3 abreast in the road anyway.

First off 'wasting money' is a hilarious inaccurate Farcebook/Xcrement echo chamber rant. There are roundabouts being built for drivists costing more than the entire cyclists' infrastructure annual budget. HS2? The cost-benefit ratio of cycle infrastructure always outweighs any motor vehicle infrastructure. Go and read about this. 

Second; what is it with this BORING 'lycra lout' rant, and TdF wannabes? I bet that's the only cycle race you know of too. Do you swim in jeans? Go jogging in wellies? Every time I read that lycra lout phrase I envisage the reader as a frothing-at-the-mouth Range Rover driver, overweight, lifelong Tory devotee, whose main source of 'news' is the Daily Mail. Even cycling in normal clothing is a problem for the obnoxious driver. 

Finally, oh dear, two abreast. That Highway Code booklet you read briefly 40 years ago, should be read often, to refresh Daily Mail brain, because it's about sharing the roads. Riding two abreast is legal, much like driving with two seats side by side. In cycling groups this often makes sense because the length of the slower moving traffic is much shorter. All spread out single file makes an overtake with two tonne SUVs much more dangerous to those people cycling, and encourages punishment passes, leaving a car width of space on the driver's side, while blasting people off the road on one's ignorant side, that's the Daily Mail side, the gutter.

Avatar
Tom_77 replied to Simon Black | 8 months ago
5 likes

Simon Black wrote:

rarely use the cycle paths

lycra clad

tour de France

ride 2 or 3 abreast

HOUSE!

Avatar
polainm replied to Tom_77 | 8 months ago
3 likes

Surely needs 'don't pay Road Tax' and 'uninsured' for a full house? 🤪🤪🤪

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mark1a replied to polainm | 8 months ago
1 like

Also no mention of hi-viz and number plates, so I think this is just a line win.

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peted76 replied to Simon Black | 8 months ago
3 likes

Simon Black wrote:

Of course it's a non-issue - cyclists rarely use the cycle paths that are built for them, they'll just ride in the road. It all boils to down to councils wasting money on cycle paths and cycle lanes, half of the lycra clad tour de France wannabes won't use a purpose built cycle path or lane and would rather risk their lives and ride 2 or 3 abreast in the road anyway.

Welcome to the forum Simon Black. I'm sure you're opinion will be a valuable addition for us all  1

Avatar
mattw | 8 months ago
5 likes

It's poor of the cycling campaign to accept it.

They are signalling that obstructions are acceptable, and high quality is not that important.

All that seat needs is a mum with a pushchair next to it and the track is blocked. People using seats for a rest should have quality spaces, too.

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webbierwrex | 8 months ago
5 likes

Hold the phone! Are you telling me cycle lanes aren't meant to have sign and lamp posts in them?

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chrisonabike | 8 months ago
9 likes

I'll take the local knowledge that this is no issue in practice but raise the fundamental issue - shared use!

Driver-centric councils! If you want almost no change to numbers of people walking and cycling and for people to keep complaining about "bloody cyclists" AND you want to get some bonus money to keep local crews building stuff ... keep "building" shared use paths! You won't need to do stuff like address junctions (or even side-road crossings, like here) or otherwise bother the motorist!

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Boopop replied to chrisonabike | 8 months ago
0 likes

I think it does depend on a couple of things though.

A: Where is the cycle lane? If it's next to a busy A or B road, where there's rarely going to be anyone walking a shared space isn't an issue. My only concern is blind corners.

B: What are the constraints of the road you're building on? There's a main road near me which I'd love to have had a proper segregated cycle track, but there's just not enough space without making it one way, and it's the only direct route between a town and a village. Instead we've got a shared space recently, which was made possible by widening the pavement. Now all it needs is bollards to stop drivers parking on it at schooltime 🤦‍♂️

Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

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chrisonabike replied to Boopop | 8 months ago
0 likes
Boopop wrote:

I think it does depend on a couple of things though.

A: Where is the cycle lane? If it's next to a busy A or B road, where there's rarely going to be anyone walking a shared space isn't an issue. My only concern is blind corners.

Well here's where "what do you want to achieve?" matters. Such interventions as you mentioned might make it nicer for a few existing cyclists who aren't up for using the road, or a bike bus for kids.

Or it might be possible for 2 or 3 people to walk - and yourself to cycle - between two places where there was zero chance before (busy country road).

In the UK, even this can seem a bit of a stretch, and isn't easy to make happen.

However I think people asking "is this value for money?" would have a point, at this level of ambition.

If the idea is to actually change something - say something more than "doubling the cycling! (Perhaps even from 1 to 2%!)" - then this level of ambition and intervention - "cycle lanes" (not "cycle paths" eg. not separated from the road) and shared space - is almost certain not to do it. I know that because we've been doing that "a bit here, a bit there" for at least my lifetime!

Don't get me wrong, I stay in Edinburgh where some shared use paths* make cycling very good for me (having
organised myself / where I live). They are appreciated by lots of folk walking their dogs and kids. But they (and other things) haven't made the place a city of cyclists, or even especially great for walking.

That needs a *network* of decent provision going where the roads go, where pedestrians and cyclists don't get in each others' way. Which in most urban areas is more or less likely, but particularly so where you've highlighted - the places in urban areas where the cars go now. Because that is where people (by any mode) want to go!

That is the "good" I'd like to see. Not perfect. But better than "not good enough to make a change, really".

Not at all easy in "our streets are too narrow" / "but it costs money" / "but everybody drives, they won't walk or cycle" and recently "we're on the side of drivers" UK. But definitely possible, because it has happened in multiple counties. (It's even possible to see it in a few places in the UK - if you squint a bit!)

* North Edinburgh paths, former railway - so completely separate from motor traffic, not really issues with width, running for some miles and connecting several of parts on the city, not just A-B. But also not going either from South to North or from East to west and not going to the centre! A series of sections going E-W through the city is getting built now, we'll see...

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chrisonabike replied to Boopop | 8 months ago
3 likes

I can't summarise better than Carlton Reid (on Stevenage) - "Where driving is easy, Brits drive".

It's the relative ease of journeys which is important. Not convenient *enough* for cycling (relative to driving)? It's a rather expensive special interest provision for a few - and many existing "cyclists" will also sensibly keep using the road...

https://roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/stevenage/

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